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Letters to the editor – Wednesday (8-12-15)

School board member wishes he’d been there

My apologies to the citizens of Rowan County and two of my colleagues for leaving them stranded at Monday’s Board of Education meeting. I left early due to a family issue, leaving a five member-board: Chairman Josh Wagner, Mr. Travis Allen, Mrs. Susan Cox, Mrs. Jean Kennedy and Dr. Richard Miller (Mr. Dean Hunter was out of town.)   

The first meetings each month are by design a work session where issues are discussed,  then set aside for a formal vote at the following business meeting.

The $500,000 needed for furniture for the central office building was initially donated by a private donor. When construction costs climbed above what was anticipated, the donor was lobbied to allow the donation to be re-purposed to cover the overage. This left funding for furniture in the void, with no clear plan on how it would be funded other than taking it from our already stressed budget.

When $500,000 for furniture appeared in the July budget resolution, I was clear that I would not support pulling $500,000 of taxpayer money that could be used for other pressing needs out of our budget to pay for furniture that had earlier been covered. The absence of my vote Monday left a majority who pushed for a vote on an issue that should have been postponed until the business session on Aug. 24. The vote to take the $500,000 from our reserve to pay for previously funded furniture was 3-2, with Chairman Wagner and Mr. Allen dissenting.

In the end, a vote by a minority of the board, a vote that should have been delayed until Aug. 24, adds another $500,000 of taxpayers’ dollars to their initial $6.5 million expenditure, putting the cost of the building at $8.5 million.

Half a million dollars would have gone a long way in addressing safety needs.

— Chuck Hughes

Salisbury

Hughes is a member of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education.

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