Mediation session slated

Published 9:13 am Thursday, June 30, 2011

JACKSON — The mediation process between Northampton Public Schools and county officials is moving forward.

The Northampton County Board of Education will meet in a joint meeting with the Northampton County Board of Commissioners at 2 p.m. on Thursday, July 14 in the Commissioners Room located at 100 W. Jefferson St.

According to Schools Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy, a mediator has been scheduled for that meeting.

Last week, the school board approved a motion to determine that the amount of money appropriated to the local current expense fund by the board of county commissioners is not sufficient to support a system of free public schools in Northampton County and to begin the budget dispute process outlined in North Carolina General Statute 115C-431 with the county commissioners.

Hours before that decision, the commissioners approved the county budget, which included a $393,462 reduction to the school district’s current expense allotment.

The law states that if the Board of Education determines that the amount of money appropriated at a local level is insufficient “the chairman of the board of education and the chairman of the board of county commissioners shall arrange a joint meeting of the two boards to be held within seven days after the day of the county commissioners’ decision on the school appropriations. It further states that prior to the meeting, the Senior Resident Superior Court Judge shall appoint a mediator unless the boards agree to jointly select a mediator. The mediator would preside over the meeting.

Additionally, the Board of Education has scheduled a Special Called Meeting for 1 p.m. tomorrow (Friday). There will be a closed session.

Bracy said the closed session will be used for attorney-client privilege. When asked if the closed session pertained to mediation, Bracy said, “I’ll just leave it at that.”

The next regular meeting of the Board of Education, originally scheduled for Tuesday, July 5, is now set for Monday, July 11. Closed session is slated to begin at 5:30 p.m. and open session at approximately 6:30 p.m.