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County boards keeping lines of communication open

By By SARAH HODGES
Staff Writer
The Beaufort County commissioners and the Beaufort County School Board members met Tuesday for their first joint session of 2003.
After a brief budget review for the benefit of the new commissioners, Superintendent Anthony Parker presented an overview of the No Child Left Behind legislation, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush more than one year ago.
"This is completely different than anything we have dealt with before," Parker told the group.
(In today's edition, the Daily News begins a two-part look at the key elements of the act and the plans for implementing this groundbreaking effort by the federal government to improve public education.)
Initial responses from commissioners Tuesday centered on their concerns that the act is another federal mandate without additional funding.
Both groups agreed the greatest impact will be on the teachers, as they work to make the new rules a reality. School Board Chairwoman Betty Randolph challenged the commissioners to help the board find "creative" ways to counteract potential problems with teacher retention due to the legislation.
Parker also introduced the school's legislative agenda for the year. The top item was a proposal for developing a funding agreement or compact which would entail the county making funding commitments to the schools for a stipulated period of time.
The recommendation would establish a four-year funding agreement, much like plans already in place for Pitt and Cumberland counties.
The second local issue involves the establishment of a plan of action for meeting the growing maintenance needs of the county's facilities. The legislative agenda stresses the importance of a comprehensive bond referendum to address the long-range facility needs.
The top priority of the state agenda remains the adoption of a public schools budget by July 1 of each year, as opposed to the most recent years, when the state's legislature did not pass the budget until late fall.