Discussion got heated at a Lincoln County Board of Education committee meeting May 7 after Superintendent Lory Morrow announced a new funding-approval process that Lincoln County Schools will be required to implement July 1.
“We are now being asked that we submit invoices to the county,” she said. “Those invoices will go to them and they will pay for the work that we need to have done.”
Morrow admitted that in the beginning she wasn’t sure whether she approved of the process until she and Pam McBryde, LCS director of financial operations, discussed it with County Manager Kelly Atkins.
“It will help with transparency, some accounting of what we use and what we spend,” Morrow said. “I’ve been assured that there won’t be any issues with approval. We’ll still be in charge of our projects and the work.”
In the past, LCS has received facility-related money in equal monthly installments. The Board of Commissioners changed that during a budget workshop in March.
School board member Heather Rhyne was particularly upset with the new procedure.
“Can you explain why it’s more transparent given all of our records are public?” she asked. “It’s my personal opinion that this is a huge overreach and micromanagement. Maybe they feel like this is sticking it to us because they were challenged at a meeting. They’re not sticking it to us – they’re sticking it to 11,400 children. That’s unfortunate.”
Board member Mark Mullen wondered if charter schools would have to follow the same procedure. Morrow said she didn’t know. Mullen also expressed concern about the timeliness of funding from the quarter-cent tax increase.
“When we were talking to Kelly about the two different buckets, the capital and the quarter-cent sales tax, if we need to spend it all up front or a large portion of it; we can do that, we just have to remember our budget,” Morrow said.
McBryde said she was concerned about the manpower necessary to carry out the new requirements. But she added that there are benefits to getting larger expense paid up-front rather than waiting for funding over time.
Throughout the discussion, board member Cathy Davis supported the new procedure.
“I don’t care how we get the money as long as we get it,” she said. “Especially since I think we’re going to get more money than we have received in the past. That’s not a relationship I’m willing to jeopardize.”
Morrow agreed to go back to Atkins to get answers to the questions and concerned raised by the board.
Also at the meeting, Associate Superintendent Aaron Allen reported on a drill April 5 at West Lincoln Middle School to practice reuniting students with parents in the event of an emergency.
Allen said that he was pleased with the results of the drill and the partnership with other county agencies. He said was particularly satisfied with the execution of the plan when the mock exercise “incapacitated” administrators.
“This allowed our teachers and others to step up and show they can take care of situation when others are not available,” he said. “Nothing in this exercise was in failure.”
The results of the drill will be presented to the N.C Association of School Administrators over the summer. Lincoln County Schools was the first district to practice the drill with students and teachers during an actual school day.