Letters to the editor - Tuesday (7-16-2013)

  • Posted: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 12:20 a.m.

Funding of public schools affects other institutions

Recent efforts by the North Carolina State Legislature and Rowan County commissioners to underfund the Rowan-Salisbury School District concern me not only as a parent of a child enrolled at Elizabeth Duncan Koontz Elementary School but also as academic dean of Hood Theological Seminary.

Since its inception in 1879, Hood has been committed to providing its students with a theological education that is both affordable and of exceptional quality. Members of Hood’s full-time faculty, all of whom have earned degrees from elite institutions such as Harvard, Yale, Emory and Vanderbilt, have made this commitment their own and work for less on average than faculty at other seminaries in order to reduce the amount of debt its graduates, most of whom make modest salaries serving small churches, must carry.

For this reason, Hood has a vested interest in a strong, well-funded local public school system in Rowan County, as it helps us to retain and recruit the best up-and-coming Christian scholars, many of whom have young families, not just to Hood but also to our city and county. When Hood has to compete nationally for young faculty with seminaries located in parts of the country with high quality, well-funded public schools, I fear that recent actions to underfund Rowan-Salisbury public schools will place us at a competitive disadvantage. (The private school option effectively functions as a salary reduction for potential faculty members and their families.)

Ours is just one example of why well-funded public schools are important not just to public school students and their families, but also to the Rowan County businesses and institutions that, like us, have to compete nationally to attract skilled labor. I ask that our local political officeholders — and voters in future local elections — keep this in mind.

— Trevor Eppehimer


Mediation is in good hands

While I regret that the county commissioners and board of education members have been forced into mediation on budget issues, I was very pleased to learn that Bill Whichard is the mediator.

I want to let the county commissioners and school board members know that they are blessed to have someone of Bill’s experience, intelligence, and objectivity to fill this important role. We have been friends for at least 30 years and I can truthfully say that I know of no finer public servant in our state than Bill. He has served in both the North Carolina House and Senate and on the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, as well as serving as dean of the outstanding Campbell University School of Law. He has served with distinction in each capacity.

I first became acquainted with Bill through a connection with his wife, Leona. We were both volunteers for the American Cancer Society dating back to the ’70s. I observed Bill’s service in the General Assembly and on the state’s two highest courts and was never disappointed in his work. We currently serve on the boards of the Public School Forum of North Carolina and the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching. We also are members of the Watauga Club, which spearheaded the founding of North Carolina State University.

Bill will approach this important assignment in Rowan County as he has every job — both paying and volunteer — with fairness and objectivity. He will consider the facts and has no personal agenda and certainly has nothing to gain personally from his role as mediator. The students, educators, and other taxpayers will all receive a “fair shake” from Bill Whichard as will the school board and county commission.

— Phil Kirk


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