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Northampton leaders to work out differences

JACKSON – A few days after their contentious work group meeting with Northampton County Schools officials, the Northampton County Board of Commissioners hope to patch things up.

Both Commission Vice Chairman Robert Carter (D-3rd), who also serves as chairman of the working group, and Commissioner James Hester (D-1st) commented on the meeting in which Northampton County Schools Superintendent Dr. Kathi Gibson abruptly left prior to its conclusion.

Two particular topics of debate included the Medicaid relief phase out plan and a schools appropriation formula, both presented by County Manager Wayne Jenkins along with Northampton County Finance Officer Dot Vick.

Each of the presentations led to a strong conversation between county and school officials.

After hearing the proposed schools formula, Gibson called the figures unacceptable and after an exchange with Carter and Jenkins, left the meeting early.

Both parties ultimately decided to collect more information about both topics and report back to each other at a special called meeting.

Carter first addressed the issue during the commissioners’ comment portion of their regular meeting.

Carter said the meeting did not end as smoothly as hoped, but both the Board of Commissioners and Board of Education will report back to each other to bring “peace and harmony” between the boards at the next meeting.

Hester, who was not in attendance at the work group meeting, also added his good wishes for the next time the two groups met.

He said both entities needed to understand where each other is coming from.

“We need to stop pointing fingers and work together for the education of the children,” Hester said.

Meanwhile, at last Thursday’s Northampton County Board of Education, member Roland Whitted addressed the working group meeting saying due to the lack of information they would have to meet sometime between now and the holidays.