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Debra Goldman on the budget and the board meeting changes

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Wake County school board vice chairwoman Debra Goldman is expressing her unhappiness with the new budget and her support for the changes in board meeting structure.

In a blog post Friday, Goldman writes that she voted against the revised budget adopted earlier this month because she didn't feel that her concerns were answered about the last-minute staff recommended changes. An example she cites is the proposed changes for Project Enlightenment.

"The Budget came up for a vote and I was the only Board member NOT to vote for it," Goldman writes. "There is a lot of work to do, and though it is described as a 'fluid document,' there is a tremendous amount that concerns me, on many topics."

Another concern that Goldman raises is the budget change that will result in booster clubs now paying for the watering of the athletic fields at schools. She's worried that booster clubs might not be able to raise the $12,000 to $16,000 per school to cover the watering costs.

"Will the fields potentially go unwatered and wither and die?" Goldman writes. "This could render them unsafe and unusable for the future."

Goldman has on more than occasion expressed her frustration about the budget process.

But while she's down on the budget, she's happy about the board going to one action meeting and one work session a month. Standing committees were also eliminated.

There used to be two action meetings a month with time set aside for work sessions during the committee of the whole meetings.

But Goldman says the two-hour COW meetings didn't given enough time for discussion and often duplicated what was discussed at the committee meetings.

Goldman writes that having one long work session a month in the board conference room will lead to more conducive discussions.

"The bottom line is that I am in favor of the Board being afforded this opportunity to be able to work together," Goldman writes. "This new plan may just be what we were looking for!"

Critics of the board majority don't like how the changes mean there will only be one public comment per month now. Goldman writes that she has "faith in our Board" that public comment will go beyond the required 30 minutes.

As of late, the board has become stricter about telling people they'll have to speak at the end of the meetings once the 30 minutes are up. By then, many speakers who haven't gone up yet have left.

Whether the board will go back to the days of two-straight hours of public comment, something that was done the first few months after the change in control in December, remains to be seen.

Also in the blog post, Goldman explains her reason for opposing spending $2.4 million to design three new schools. She says the board should have waited until the new assignment plan is developed.


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Michael Jordan and his

Michael Jordan and his Bobcats NBA team will donate $250,000 to middle-school athletics programs in North Carolina's largest city.

The Charlotte Observer says the NBA hall-of-famer and North Carolina native will announce the gift Monday.

Charlotte schools cut $1.25 million cut from athletics programs this year and school officials announced a plan to charge students $50 for middle-schoolers and $100 high-schoolers who play.

There are 32 middle schools in the Charlotte area with teams in 13 sports. About 6,500 students play middle school sports.

Jordan attended middle school and high school in Wilmington before playing college basketball at the University of North Carolina and becoming one of the world's best known athletes in the NBA. 


thanks for sharing!

I doubt there is a law

I doubt there is a law preventing WCPSS from relying on booster clubs to help pay field maintenance costs (these include not just watering, but seeding, re-seeding, fertilizing, aerating, etc.).  At my son's school, the boosters had to pay to have irrigation installed on one of the athletic field.

This is one budget item that they need to fix.  Having a properly-watered field is not a "nice to have" item, it is required to reduce injuries.  And leaving safety up to booster funding that may or may not be there is wrong.


Does anyone know if it is legal for the BOE to tell the booster clubs they have to maintain a field that is owned by the school system? What happens if the grass on the fields die because the booster clubs can't maintain a field properly? Are there minimum standards for the fields set by the high school athletic associations or anything like that?


The board doesn't have the authority to tell the booster clubs what they have to do.  But, it can stop spending public money to water the fields and it can tell the booster clubs "If you want the field watered, you'll have to pay for it yourselves." 

As to your other questions, I don't know.  Are unwatered fields unusable?   What if the booster clubs just cuts back on the watering?  Will they have authority to do plant drought-resistant grass? 

It's a lousy situation, but with 20 schools, we're talking about ~ $300K per year.  If this isn't cut, what will be cut instead?  (Unlike the activity buses, I suspect that the district won't be able to use the federal money, which is intended for jobs.)

You want to make a guess

You want to make a guess which kids will be playing on grass and which on dirt?  Hint - sort by F&R%.


btw, where does the $6/ticket for games go?  Shouldn't it go to maintain the facility?  Also, isn't your $300k estimate about two top administrators that could be let go?


it is pretty ridiculous that wcpss continues to pay millions to build stadiums and pay for field space and then turns it's back on the maintenance of these amenities. WCPSS funds less than 1% of athletic expenses not including salaries.Unmaintained fields are dangerous, they are rutted,dusty, muddy and uneven making slips and falls inevitable. Wcpss receives plenty of attention for athletic excellence including millions of dollars in scholarship funding that motivates students to excel.  If wcpss invested some time and creative energy they could certainly help these schools by seeking corporate sponsors, naming rights etc.  


Hasn't the finance committee identified the millions of $ of waste still in the budget that could be redirected to maintaining the fields ?  Curious - does Ravenscroft, Thales, North Raleigh Christian Academy go through this ? My guess is they send a note home - fees just went up x$ to fund ........... end of story.  In Fairfax County they imposed a $100 athletic participation fee. 

All good ideas....

Naming rights are a great idea.   IIRC, the prior board put the kibosh on that idea -- probably time to revisit it.  My impression is that corporate sponsorships already happen; just look at the ads in the athletic programs. 

What percent of athletic expenses are salaries?  It seems me like saying "boosters pay everything but salaries" is like saying "the lawn service does everything but cut the grass."  Plus, you've already pointed out that the district pays to build the stadiums, which has got to be one of the biggest costs. 

Did the board really say "we're not going to maintain fields anymore" or did it just say "we're not going to pay to water the fields anymore"?  

Don't get me wrong -- high school sports are an important part of high school and support the school's mission.   I also think watering the fields is the district's job -- it owns the fields; it ought to care for them.  But, times are tight, which means that somebody's ox is going to be gored. 


Did the board really say

Did the board really say "we're not going to maintain fields anymore" or did it just say "we're not going to pay to water the fields anymore"?  


I'm wondering this too.  Like you, I agree that watering the fields should be the district's responsibility.  But it's nice to get an understanding on exactly what was said and/or done.  It can easily get blown out of proportion (or understated) when we don't have all the facts. 

This is similar to why I was asking people so many questions about the activity buses.  It's very easy to jump to the conclusion that kids won't be able to get the tutoring they need or go to band practice if the buses aren't running.  But at our middle school, there are several teachers who offer afterschool tutoring but only until 3:30.  Parents are instructed to pick up their kids because they can't hang around unsupervised until the activity buses run at 4:30.  My son had an afterschool orchestra rehearsal or two but an actiity bus was never offered to me as an option.  It was "pick up your kid at 4:30".  The only way that I knew there was an afterschool activity bus is because I searched for it on our school's website.

I do not doubt there are some schools that offer tutoring later in the day (I believe it was RMC whose daughter used such a program), but how widespread is that?  If we do reinstate activity buses, are there still kids who are not being served by them?  It's definitely an issue if kids are still not able to use tutoring services because they can't get a ride home even if activity buses are reinstated.


My HS child isn't involved in sports, but is in the band and my understanding is that the band boosters pay for the same sort of items that the sports boosters do. So, this is what we pay for:

instruments, instrument maintenance, flag corps uniforms, flags, band uniforms (though the school system does give us a small amount of money every 10 years for uniforms -- band uniforms are durable so we just don't replace them but I think sports teams get new uniforms on a fairly regular basis), bus transportation to competitions, competition fees, payment for drill instructors, we've agreed to cover the amount of extra pay for the band director that was cut by the district, new music (marching band and regular band), cost to choreograph the new show every year, snacks and drinks for the kids at rehearsals, competitions and games, away band camp fees, and I'm sure there is other stuff I'm forgetting.


Salaries - you know the $1,500 teacher supplemental that was cut by 40% down to $900.

As far as naming rights - Sutton brought this up months ago. 


"If wcpss invested some time

"If wcpss invested some time and creative energy they could certainly help these schools by seeking corporate sponsors, naming rights etc. "

I am sure they could also. How about the Millbrook- Marlboro field? Or maybe the Broughton Bud-Lite stadium? Imagine the possibilities...

Broughton Bud-Lite

just don't let McLaurin's hubby have a say....

I'd hate to kill the concept

I'd hate to kill the concept before first investigating whether guidelines could be established to keep naming rights G-rated.  We don't want to end up with Fracture Field or Concussion Court.


Don't even get started on what Garner's stadium could be named.   (Hint: team name.)

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.