School chairman says mediation talks getting worse

SALISBURY — Funding talks between county and school boards are getting worse, Rowan-Salisbury School Board Chairman Richard Miller said Friday.

One day after the latest attempt to resolve funding issues between the two boards in mediation, Miller said, “if anything there was regression.”

Talks are not getting anywhere, he said, “because the county has yet to make any substantial offer of money that isn’t already on the table.”

Talks Monday night stretched to 2 a.m. Tuesday morning, and some commissioners said they expected talks to be closer during discussions Thursday.

But Miller said the opposite was true.

“They brought a lesser proposal back than we had when we left at 2 a.m. on Monday,” he said.

The school board and county commissioners are meeting for mediation in an effort to resolve funding disputes, under a provision in North Carolina General Statutes.

The school board says it needs a $4.7 million increase in current expense funds and another $3.9 million in capital outlay, for a total increase of $8.6 million.

But when county commissioners passed the 2013-14 budget in June, they approved no increase in capital funding and a decrease of $225,000 in current expense funding based on a projected drop in enrollment.

When mediation recessed Thursday night, the two boards could not agree on a future date to resume talks, so their attorneys were directed to work that out.

Miller said no meeting date had been decided by Friday afternoon.

Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.

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