Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cuts in education?

There has been a lot of buzz going around North Carolina lately about proposed cuts to the public schools from the state level. I'll be upfront in not understanding for one second why between Forsyth County and North Carolina, the WS/FC school system is budgeted at $7000 per child, when our small private school accomplishes more on an academic level at a fraction of that cost. Nevertheless, I pay attention. Cuts in the state budget for the '09-10 school year led to 3000 teachers losing their jobs. (1) If we lost 3000 teachers, who is teaching the children? Obviously there was not a mass exodus of students from the public school system, they are still there, but they have no one to teach them now because of a supposed "budget crunch". I thought we had an educational lottery to help cover the expense of the school systems?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics in the U.S. Department of Education, public education revenue is drawn from three sources of government: federal, state, and local. In 2004- 2005, state government provided the largest share of public education revenues: 46.9 percent. Local governments provided 44.0 percent, and the federal government provided 9.2 percent.(2) Based on that, I wonder what North Carolina as a state, and Forsyth County is doing to ensure our children receive the best education possible. From what I am seeing now, the state is looking to cut even more from our children's educational experience through teacher furloughs, cuts in local salary supplements (and other ways) in order to save another $5.2 million for 2010-11. Is this what our children deserve? Isn't there another way?

Today, the N.C. Association of Educators will release its report cards for state legislators, giving them grades according to how well they support education issues. This will be interesting, and I wonder if the results will be published online. However, there is something else I am wondering. Who else can bring our public school system funds to cover the expenses required to help our children succeed academically in this economic climate? We know that the federal government is only responsible for 9%, the state government is 46%, but who do we look to in the local government? The School Board? They are not responsible for the financial end, right? Taxes? Goodness knows that cannot be the only answer.

What got me thinking about this was the role the Clerk of Superior Court plays in local education. In past elections I have seen the signs. I even voted I believe. But who did I vote for? I don't even remember. I do remember wondering what that position was about, and have been learning little by little recently about it. Did you know that any bond forfeitures goes straight back to the county and city school systems? I didn't. What this means, is, when someone is arrested, they are allowed to call a bondsman, and that bondsman will come make bail for them upon the agreed terms of their bail and of course that they will show up for their court date. If they do not show up for their court date, the bondsman is responsible for paying the bond in full. Apparently a bondsman can file a motion with the courts to set aside final forfeiture based on the idea that an order for arrest has been made for the person who skipped their court date. Apparently, this motion can be granted, and the person who skipped bail could be in hiding for however long, and no bond or fines are paid to the county at all.

EXCEPT ... if your Clerk of Superior Court steps in, like Brian Shipwash (3) did a few years ago in a case with two illegal aliens who skipped out on a two hundred thousand dollar bond. In this particular case, the bondsman filed the motion, and under normal circumstances it would had been allowed, forfeiture would have been delayed and the bondsman would have been allowed to continue writing bonds for others, except for the Clerk of Superior Court of Davidson County. In a September 28, 2006 Press release (4), it is said:

"Shipwash ordered that the Insurance Company be restricted from writing bonds in Davidson County, on the basis that the order for arrest had not been served. After meeting with Perry Mastromichalis, Attorney hired by Holeman, the Attorney stated they would be withdrawing the motion to set aside.

Today, Shipwash received $200,000 to go to the Davidson County Schools. Shipwash has collected more than 1.8 million dollars in his 7 ½ years as Clerk. Especially notable, Shipwash has collected more in the last 3 years than was collected in the previous 15."

I believe Forsyth could use a windfall like that. Who is our Clerk of Superior Court, anyway? I had to do some digging, but I was able to find a website of the appointee who is currently running, but that's about it. That makes me wonder if there's much to brag about accomplishment-wise in Forsyth County. Brian Shipwash (who is NOT an attorney, but an administrator) of Davidson County has a lot to brag about on his website and rightly so! I do know that this office is up for re-election every four years, and this year is election year for that position.

Who will be the best person to serve the citizens of Forsyth County in the position of Clerk of Superior Court? If they have the ambition and administrative skills to accomplish things like bringing millions of dollars back into the Winston Salem / Forsyth County School system, they are worthy of our attention, AND our vote.

- Wendy Wood
Facebook: Wendy Wood
Twitter: @CalvaryGirl

(1) Educators face tough climate

(2) Does Spending More on Education Improve Academic Achievement?

(3) Brian Shipwash :

(4) Shipwash Protects School Systems - Nets $200,000.00

1 comment:

  1. Wow...Wendy that is interesting. I tried to look up the job duties of our county Clerk of Superior Court and couldn't find them. Found our county clerk...but that wasn't what your described.

    New York has a lottery too that is suppose to benefit education. What is really does imho is become an way for the government to not alot as much to the education budget. Thus instead of being a boost it is simply a way to "meet the budget".