Monday, February 26, 2024

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Graham, NC 27253
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ABSS: PR first; substance, if any, later

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We keep thinking that surely the superintendent and other school system officials would learn their lesson about being more transparent and honest.

And dealing more in substance than publicity stunts.

But given a choice between show-boating – with vapid, hyperbolic rhetoric – versus substantively addressing any issue, school officials seem of late always to gravitate to shallow publicity stunts.

Drawing a page from the political adage not to let any crisis go to waste, school officials have pounced on Tuesday’s heavy storms as yet the latest justification for seeking more money from the county commissioners – this time, ostensibly, to pay for roof repairs at seven schools that leaked during the rainstorm – while simultaneously blaming them for what they call “inadequate funding from our county.”

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Granted, Tuesday’s storms were what farmers of old would refer to as a real gullywasher.

Still, one wonders whether any of the seven schools that ostensibly sprang leaks didn’t have any previous signs of a leak during lesser storms?

And, of course, we think it natural to wonder “whose fault” it is that schools have leaks.  Is routine maintenance being performed?

Of course, the reflexive response from school officials is always that commissioners haven’t provided enough funds to take care of all of their needs – in this case, maintenance.

Yet, we find it interesting that only one of the schools that had leaks (Eastern High) has been on any sort of list of schools with roof problems and funding requests to the county, previously identified by the school system.

Predictably, the school system’s first instinct was to seek more tax dollars – as though the commissioners preside over a limitless well of tax dollars just waiting to be tapped for the school system.

Most individuals, and well-operated public institutions, usually maintain what is, appropriately termed, a “rainy-day fund.”  Its purpose is, precisely, to have a kitty set aside for unexpected expenses.

So, we wonder, where is ABSS’ pot of money for unexpected expenses, like leaky roofs? (That pot’s already empty, since it was used for mold remediation.)  We suspect this storm is now to be the pretext, as the mold was, for seeking more and more funding.

We also wonder, doesn’t the school system have any sort of insurance to cover these or similar problems?

Some of the schools listed appear to have had work done rather recently.  Are there not warranties that might be applicable?

The school system put out a press release, one not apparently attributable specifically to the superintendent (although we hold him responsible for things put out in the name of the school system) Tuesday night, claiming that the storm “of course has exacerbated these ongoing issues as a result of inadequate funding from our county.”

The statement also says, “This aftermath from this storm is just one example that shows the need for increased support.”

So, we wondered whether the county commissioners have received any request from the school system to address these urgent roofing matters?

Nope.

Neither county manager Heidi York nor county commissioner chairman John Paisley, Jr. had received any call or correspondence from the school system on the topic, as of the close of business Wednesday.

So, while they have time to put out new releases with rhetorical flourishes, school officials just haven’t gotten around to submitting any actual request – to the people they want to blame.

Of course, when they submit their request, we suspect commissioners will have some of the same basic questions that we and members of the public have about demanding accountability for the money already supposedly spent for roof repairs and other maintenance, as well as where the “rainy day” funds went.

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