Hike funding

Here’s where the funding should go…

If there’s a place between a rock and a hard place in Bladen County’s 2022-2023 fiscal year budget, it’s this: funding for teacher supplements or additional school resource officers.

Both are necessary.

Both are important.

Both are now on the radar.

Only one can be satisfied with this round table.

The Bladen County Board of Commissioners addressed the matter on Monday with mixed results and no decision. You can read more about it on Page 1 today, so we won’t bore you with repeating the information.

What we’re going to do is give our 2 cents.

Bladen County ranks in the cellar when it comes to local supplements for teachers. This is unacceptable. County Chairman Ray Britt said those exact words and we wholeheartedly agree with him.

This fact undermines the school district’s ability to retain and attract teachers.

Here’s the flip side: the student population is shrinking here. Plain and simple. We need fewer teachers now than five years ago, and we will need fewer teachers in five years than today.

As for school resource officers, the local school district has six positions and four are filled. These six positions must rotate between the 12 schools in the district. It is equally unacceptable, given what has happened in this country over the years. As Commissioner Charles Ray Peterson said, “we need to protect our children…now”.

He’s right – just as correct about SROs as Britt is about teachers.

But here is our view: if there is an immediate need, one that simply cries out NOW, then we believe that having a School Resource Officer in place in every school should be the first nod.

This is not to say that the supplement for teachers is not important. It’s just that the safety of students – and teachers, by the way – is more important. Remember that an SRO is not just there for students. teachers were also the victims of nearly every school shooting along the way.

In addition to this, School Resource Officers would also indirectly provide community safety, especially for parents who deliver and/or pick up their children every day.

Although Monday’s discussion turned out to be fruitless, council will tackle the showdown again next Monday at 6:30 p.m. After all, the budget MUST pass this month. You can attend, if you wish, and donate your own 2 cents – or just watch how things are decided.

Commissioner Ophelia Munn-Goins, when it was suggested the council would meet next week to make the decision, said: ‘Nothing will have changed. It’s still the same problem as today and the same amount of money as today.

True. But there are two options to consider – raise the local tax rate by a dime OR hope voters approve of a quarter sales tax hike in November. Since voters have almost always rejected the sales tax option, raising the tax rate is more likely — but no one really wants that either. Contracting out jobs to security companies is also not a valid approach.

We will therefore remain of the view that the county should direct funding from the school district’s share of the proposed budget to pay for six additional school resource officers beginning in the 2022-23 school year.

Until Monday …

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Children deserve to be happy, healthy and safe.”