State Bill Would Thwart School Boards’ Right To Sue County Commissioners For More Funds

By Rachel Nash Posted April 23, 2013 at 2:37 pm

The Chapel Hill Carrboro School District faces a projected $4.8 million shortfall next year— and the likely hood of requesting additional funding from the county is almost certain.

Jeff Nash, Executive Director of CHCCS Community Relations, says he’s traced the districts records back to 2001 and found no indications of a law suit against the Orange County Board of Commissioners.

“In Orange County, our school system has a good working relationship with our board of county commissioners. The two have worked so well together and I don’t know if that’s just because the folks have really rolled up their sleeves and continued to be interested in the best things for our students,” said Nash.

Supporters of Senate Bill 674 say commissioners should have the last word in funding decisions. They hope to prevent taxpayer-funded legal action.

“In some part maybe having two school systems in one county— which is only the case in a handful of counties around the state—maybe there’s an added measure of accountability there,” Nash said. “I understand that the commissioners do a good job of making sure that both systems are funded adequately.”

Under current state law, a school board can announce to commissioners that it’s not receiving adequate funds. The next step is a meeting with a mediator, and if that fails, the school board can file a lawsuit in Superior Court to request more money.

“Folks here have taxed themselves at a higher rate and they do that because education is a priority and we like to think that we are seeing great results in a large part because of that,” Nash said.

The CHCCS School Board passed the budget request this month. Assistant Superintendent Todd LoFrese board will present a list of concerns to accompany the budget request during the April 25 joint meeting with the Orange County Board of Commissioners.

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