Board opposes school consolidation move


First Posted: 4/6/2009

ELKIN The Surry County Board of Commissioners last night took issue with a General Assembly proposal that would effectively force the consolidation of the countys three school systems.
The bill, introduced by 19th District Sen. Tony Rand, Fayetteville, would essentially fund just one school system in each county, making city school systems such as Mount Airy and Elkin economically unfeasible.
Monday night, at the urging of Board Chairman Craig Hunter, the commissioners unanimously adopted a resolution urging the General Assembly to not allow the bill to pass.
Dr. (Jim) Harrell Jr., I know this is going to be a surprise to you, Hunter said to his fellow board member. I have never seen anyone advocate for education as much as you do. I would like to propose tonight in front of everybody and I have studied this we can find no reason why our school systems should be merged. We are very proud of all three school systems. They are all excellent. I went to Mount Airy High School, my wife is on the board there, I coach there. Dr. Harrell, I know that you graduated from Elkin High School. We find no benefit to merging the three school systems, Hunter said.
I would like to ask Dr. Harrell to pass a resolution opposing a Senate bill 265. We believe it will be a financial hardship on our county and on our school systems, Hunter continued.
Commissioner Harrell agreed to make a motion, which was seconded by Commissioner Bill Hamlin and then passed by the full board, eliciting applause from audience.
Im very happy for them to leave us alone, Hunter said.
The bill, which was filed on Feb. 23, has been with the education/higher education committee since Feb. 24. If that committee approves it, the measure would go to the appropriations committee and, if eventually passed by the full General Assembly, would take effect July 1.
The resolution came after Elkin school recognitions presented by Commissioner Harrell.
In other business Monday night the board:
Set a public hearing for May 4 on a petition Bates presented for a road closing at Westview Drive and White Pines Country Club Road.
Scheduled a public hearing on a zoning petition from the Mount Airy/Surry County Airport Authority. Bates told commissioners that in order to extend the length of the runway, a height ordinance along the runways will need to be passed. Chairman Hunter asked Bates if in addition to publishing newspaper advertising for the amendment if an announcement could be mailed to every household affected. Bates responded that 1,000 or so homes would have to be included in that. The commissioners agreed to stay the course with the advertising already in place.
Approved a request by Adam McHone, Surry County Parks and Recreation director, to apply for non-matching funds up to $20,000 to complete putting up signs for the Surry County Bikeway project. McHone said the county would only be financial responsible for the placement of the signs. The signs will be produced at N.C. Corrections Enterprises of Raleigh. Commissioner Johnson made a motion to approve and Commissioner Miller made the second. The motion passed unanimously.
Set a public hearing for May 4 on a petition Bates presented for a road closing at Westview Drive and White Pines Country Club Road.
Scheduled a public hearing on a zoning petition from the Mount Airy/Surry County Airport Authority. Bates told commissioners that in order to extend the length of the runway, a height ordinance along the runways will need to be passed. Chairman Hunter asked Bates if in addition to publishing newspaper advertising for the amendment if an announcement could be mailed to every household affected. Bates responded that 1,000 or so homes would have to be included in that. The commissioners agreed to stay the course with the advertising already in place.
Approved a request by Adam McHone, Surry County Parks and Recreation director, to apply for non-matching funds up to $20,000 to complete putting up signs for the Surry County Bikeway project. McHone said the county would only be financial responsible for the placement of the signs. The signs will be produced at N.C. Corrections Enterprises of Raleigh. Commissioner Johnson made a motion to approve and Commissioner Miller made the second. The motion passed unanimously.
County Manager Dennis Thompson announced that he and Commissioner Paul Johnson would be attending the N.C. County Commissioners on April 16 in Iredell County.
Thompson also announced that the countys N.C. Assembly Day is April 29. He said Commissioner Johnson and himself have plans to attend.

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