Communities in Schools funding dispute draws state money

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
A dispute over funds for the Communities in Schools program has ended with state funds flowing to the program.
And the county has allocated nearly $11,000 in additional state funds to other programs funded by the N.C. Department of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention program.
Overall, seven programs targeting teens will receive a total of $339,000 in state funding.
A dispute between the Rowan County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council (JCPC) and the Rowan County Board of Commissioners held up the flow of dollars to the Communities in Schools program earlier this year.
Initially, the local council had $363,000 in requests with only $328,000 available.
In May, the local council recommended cutting the funding request for Communities in Schools from $62,000 to $44,000, while approving other requests in full.
The council also recommended whacking the $4,500 for administrative support carried out by a staffer in the county manager’s office.
Also in May, the Rowan County Board of Commissioners voted to fully fund the Communities in Schools request and the $4,500 for administrative support. Commissioners opted to cut all funding, $21,000 from the Teen Court program, one of four programs operated by the Youth Services Bureau.
In the months that followed, the commissioners’ allocation drew questions, and the state withheld funds from Communities in Schools.
Arnold Chamberlain, chairman of the commissioners at the time, and County Manager Gary Page met with top state officials to discuss the situation.
Chamberlain said earlier this month he made it clear if the state decided to overrule the local board, the county could pull out of the program.
A supporter of the Communities in Schools program, Chamberlain said it made no sense to him to cut funding for a program that has a record of working.
Chamberlain’s wife, Jean, and Commissioner Tina Hall are Communities in Schools volunteers.
In late November, the state gave final approval to the funding scenario approved by the commissioners.
And the state provided an additional $10,832 in funding for the Rowan County programs.
Here’s a breakdown of the new funding allocations and the total for the year:
– Youth Services Bureau, juvenile restitution, $4,000 additional, $54,000 total;
– Youth Services Bureau, psychological services, $797 additional, $71,000 total;
– Youth Services Bureau, Youth Train, $51,000;
– Nurturing Program, $1,000 additional, $49,000 total;
– Genesis, sexually aggressive youth program, $38,000;
– Communities in Schools, $66,000;- JCPC Certification, travel, training, administrative support, $5,000 additional, $10,000 total.
Local funding recommendations come from a panel of nearly two dozen appointees by the county commissioners.Many of the appointees are automatic because of state requirements.
New state conflict of interest guidelines are attempting to avoid conflicts of interest where recipients of the funding are among those deciding how the money is spent.
A recent appointment recommended by the JCPC fell through because of conflict of interest.
Anyone interested in learning more about the JCPC or applying for an appointment may contact Laura Russell at the County Manager’s office, 704-636-0361.
You may contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254.