Commissioner chairman chides interim supt. for dismissive response to legislative investigative report

Does ABSS live in financial ‘fantasyland’?

County commissioner chairman John Paisley, Jr. lambasted the head of the Alamance-Burlington school system on Friday over his dismissive reply to last week’s release of a legislative report on the school system’s finances.

During a special budget meeting on Friday, the commissioners’ chairman recalled his dismay when he heard William Harrison, the school system’s interim superintendent, write off this state-level probe as a “waste of taxpayer money” in an interview with a news station from Winston-Salem.


See coverage of the original report, https://alamancenews.com/legislative-investigation-abss-violated-state-laws-and-its-own-policies-in-no-bid-mold-contracts/

including a COPY of the legislative report itself


Paisley added that his chagrin was later echoed by state senator Amy Scott Galey, who had requested the General Assembly’s so-called “Gov Ops” commission to investigate the school system after questions emerged over the no-bid contracts that the school system issued in the wake of a massive mold infestation last summer.

“We both were shocked that you would go on regional television and say ‘gee, golly nothing’s wrong,’” he recalled. “I found that, and so did senator Galey, absolutely astounding.”

Paisley proceeded to blast the school system for its apparently cavalier attitude to finances, which he insisted is out of step with the realities which confront the county.

“We can’t fix things by going into LaLa Land or Candy Land. . . We five commissioners have an absolute obligation. . . not only to the school system but to the taxpayers . . .We cannot open fantasy doors and give everybody everything they want”

– County commissioner chairman John Paisley, Jr.

“We can’t fix things by going into LaLa Land or Candy Land,” Paisley declared. “We five commissioners have an absolute obligation . . . not only to the school system but to the taxpayers…We cannot open fantasy doors and give everybody everything they want.”

Paisley’s theme was later picked up by the board’s vice chairman Steve Carter, who insisted that the county should take measures to keep the school system financially accountable.

”People recognize that over the past couple of years they have not been appropriate stewards. ABSS needs to step up to the plate and clean up its act…and we need to clean up the problem with school performance.”

– County commissioner vice chairman Steve Carter

”People recognize that over the past couple of years they have not been appropriate stewards,” Carter went on to say of the school system’s top brass. “ABSS needs to step up to the plate and clean up its act…and we need to clean up the problem with school performance.”

These broadsides certainly got the attention of the superintendent, who was later given an opportunity to address some of these charges with the commissioners.

Harrison ultimately chided Paisley for his “misleading and inaccurate” criticism of the school system’s utility projections, another source of friction during Friday’s special meeting.

Harrison also took issue with the commissioners for their generally grim view of the school system’s sense of fiscal responsibility.

“Mr. Paisley, I don’t live in fantasy land. I know what I’m doing . . . I’m not coming in here trying for what I want. I’m trying for what I need.”

[With regard to legislative investigative report]  “What we got from them was a joke.  It epitomizes [the attitude that] ‘we’re from Raleigh; we’re here to help you.’”

– ABSS interim superintendent Dr. William Harrison

“Mr. Paisley,” he went on to address the commissioners’ chairman directly, “I don’t live in fantasy land. I know what I’m doing…I’m not coming in here trying for what I want. I’m trying for what I need.”

Harrison nevertheless acknowledged that Paisley had accurately recounted his response to the legislature’s financial inquiry. The interim superintendent stressed that, while he wasn’t at Alamance-Burlington when the state initiated the probe, he has had enough experience with legislative commissions to form a rather cynical impression of this particular investigations.

“What we got from them was a joke,” he added. “It epitomizes [the attitude that] ‘we’re from Raleigh; we’re here to help you.’”

The school system’s interim superintendent went on to insist that the commission’s questions about the school system’s audit diverted him and his colleagues from their important work on the budget in order to obtain information that was already publicly available. In the end, their inquiries produced conclusions that were “mind-numbingly obvious,” Harrison said.

“It’s as if I were to hire a meteorologist to go outside and tell me whether it’s hot or not.”


Read our editorial page views on the interim superintendent’s attitude: https://alamancenews.com/school-system-leadership-not-legislative-report-is-the-real-joke/