There's still some bad blood between Republican school board members Deborah Prickett and Chris Malone over this month's school budget vote.
As noted in today's Eastern Wake News article by Paul A. Specht, Prickett took exception with the praise that Malone has gotten in Knightdale for having broken with Republicans to pass a budget request asking county commissioners for $8.8 million more.
On Thursday, Prickett emailed the people who spoke up for Malone in last week's Eastern Wake News article to say that she felt like those in Knightdale “didn’t understand the full story” and wanted to explain her vote. Among the people she copied the note to was Paul Coble, chairman of the board of commissioners.
“(T)he fund balance has been a point of contention with the County Commissioners from many years past and was a key factor surrounding this particular budget request,” Prickett wrote. “I requested that we meet again with the Commissioners and try to work through this barrier before moving forward asking for more money.”
The school board’s relationship with Commissioners is key, Prickett noted.
“Now, the proposed budget will be presented to the Commissioners in sort of (an) in-your-face-just-deal-with-it way instead of a thoughtful, well vetted manner,” she wrote.
Prickett then accused Malone of “trying to be political” by saying that the Republican board members were wrong to vote no.
“It’s one thing to explain your own vote, but differing opinions are a fact of life. I think that the six board members voting for the budget with the unresolved fund balance issue were irresponsible which may cost the school system millions of dollars,” Prickett wrote.
Knightdale Town Councilman Terry Gleason, a Republican, said he didn't know why Prickett had written the letter. He had gotten the email because he had praised Malone's budget vote.
“I’m reading it for a third time and still can’t figure out what she’s trying to say,” Gleason said. “She must have been mad when she wrote it because it reads that way. Sometimes people just send emails so they can vent.”
Malone called Prickett’s email “unnecessary.”
“I think my constituents already know her stance,” he said. “All they have to do is pick up the paper.”
Malone admitted he should have phrased his budget vote explanation differently.
“I probably shouldn’t have said my fellow Republicans were wrong,” he said. “I should have just said ’I was following my conscience.’“
In an attempt to temper the flames, Malone insisted Prickett’s email “is not a big deal.”
“When someone forwarded her email to me, I read it. And my response was ’So what?” he said. “Then I closed the email and went back to work.”
Prickett, who after the budget vote endorsed Malone's opponent in the state House 35 primary, was still unhappy about the budget vote on Tuesday.
During board member comments, Prickett said the board could have waited until that evening, May 15, to have adopted the budget. She said the May 1 budget budget was "rushed" with the fund balance issue still "unresolved."
State law says school boards must get a budget to county commissioners by May 15. School staff said that if they had waited until May 15 they would have had to get the county's permission to give partial documents by the deadline with the rest coming later.
Prickett said waiting until May 15 to resolve the fund balance issue would have been a "win win."
"A valuable opportunity was missed in order to build a better relationship with the commissioners and truly advocate for the needs of the students and staff in the Wake County Public School System," Prickett said Tuesday.