Blinkin’ Chris Fitzsimon and his partner-in-crime Scowlin’ Rob Schofield recently lead a chorus of drive-bys in needling State senate president Phil Berger about alleged public school money woes in his home county of Rockingham. Apparently, the system is struggling to pay for textbooks and supplies and other important components of the education process. *And, of course, it is all the Republican Party’s fault.*
The Blinker & The Scowler neglected to mention a report from August of this year where the Rockingham County school system announced its plans to spend more than a half million dollars on buying EVERY student in the system, regardless of ability to pay, lunch and breakfast on every school day. (Gosh. A half million could buy a lot of supplies, and fund some pay raises too.)
We caught up with state Senator Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph), the senate’s majority whip, to get his thoughts on this revelation:
” Some of the sensational headlines really caught my attention. Apparently, Rockingham County Schools were short on textbooks and teachers don’t have toilet paper. Teachers without toilet paper? Teachers having to beg for basic supplies and unable to send home work packets for first graders? This brought a lot of questions to mind. The school year is less than halfway through and the Rockingham County Schools are in this financial situation already?
Come to find out Superintendent Rodney Shotwell and his Chief Financial Officer Parker Turpin decided to provide “free” meals to all students – at a cost of $514,000. I suppose the “free meals for all” really meant all – including those who could afford to pay and even to those who did not want “free” meals…
Every school system in North Carolina gets basically the same state dollars based on Average Daily Membership. Local tax dollars vary by county and you’ll see varying degrees of funding locally. State dollars account for the vast majority of school system revenue. I know of no other school system in the state that provides “free” meals for all. Apparently Superintendent Shotwell thinks “free” really means free.
Also, every school system in the state gets the same allocation for textbooks and/or computers. How much each system spends on textbooks or computers is up to them. If any school superintendent spends it all on computers, don’t cry about not enough textbooks. Spend it where you need it most – but be willing to live with your decisions.
From where I sit, it looks like Superintendent Shotwell and the Rockingham County Schools leadership team are finding it hard to live with their poor decisions. I am finding it easy to understand why.”