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Public education forms one of the foundational pillars of the Wilson County community. We have some spectacular private and charter schools. They are serving select students of Wilson County very well. However, they account for only a small fraction of the overall number of students enrolled in Wilson County. Like it or not, our public schools are here to stay.
They are some of the most accurate reflections of our communities. They are points of pride, they are where we come together to ensure that our children are guaranteed opportunities and paths that might not have been available to us. The large majority of our citizens were and are educated in public schools. Our public schools are the workshops where we as community members are tasked with building the future of our towns, our county, our state, our community and our world.
The facts are not up for debate. It is a fact that in the 2017-18 session of the North Carolina General Assembly, House Bill 866 was filed. It is a fact that this bill outlined a school construction bond that was to be put on the ballot for the 2018 elections.
It is a fact that this bill guaranteed $15,343,147 to Wilson County public schools. It is a fact that a sum of money of that nature would signal a significant increase in the county’s public school budget of $129,528,626 from the 2017-18 fiscal year. It is a fact that the Republican-controlled General Assembly passed this referendum on the first reading and then sent it to the Finance Committee to die.
Finally, it is a fact that Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield signed on to this referendum as a co-sponsor.
We have a Wilsonian in the N.C. General Assembly, my dear friend Rep. Farmer-Butterfield, who is fighting for our children and our communities and their schools.
This bill was filed in a bipartisan fashion — with the Republican chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education as a co-sponsor — and even that wasn’t good enough to warrant a second thought from the GOP leadership. North Carolina needs proven leaders to bring about meaningful change.
North Carolinians have always taken pride in our schools. Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield has demonstrated the ability to be the leader we need and a leader who fights for our children. For that, I want to thank her for never hesitating to speak truth to power, and for never forgetting those for whom she serves.
The writer is a retired assistant superintendent of Wilson County Schools.