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County to decide next step in funding dispute

By Staff
Commissioners to hold special meeting Thursday
By NIKIE MAYO
News Editor
Beaufort County commissioners will convene in a special session Thursday morning to decide whether they want to take the board of education back to court over a $412,000 judgment rendered in December.
The meeting begins at 9 a.m., with at least a portion of it expected to be in closed session. State statutes allow boards to meet behind closed doors to discuss litigation-related matters.
Last July, the school board sued the county for additional funding for the fiscal year that will end Saturday. A jury awarded the school system $765,783, bringing the total county allocation for the school year from $9.4 million to $10.2 million.
That July 2006 verdict is still wrapped up in the appeals process. In December 2006, the board of education sought interim funds from the county, contending that it could not sufficiently operate the schools without them.
Judge William Griffin ruled the school system was entitled to $412,457. But Griffin said then that he would “leave the door open” to reconsider that amount after the Beaufort County Board of Education had passed budget amendments for the 2006-2007 fiscal year.
Commissioners will study the latest amendments to the school system’s local current expense fund. That fund saw an increase of $289,159, based on adjustments approved by the school board on June 18.
Spruill said commissioners will ask how this year’s numbers — both projected and actual figures — stand up to last year’s numbers.
Meanwhile, the county is still appealing the verdict from the original funding dispute that had the two bodies locked in litigation last summer. The case is headed to an appeals court in Raleigh on Aug. 23.