Stone: Bill corrects conflict of interest for school board
Requests from Lee County residents and greater financial oversight are the driving factors behind a local bill that would change how members of the Central Carolina Community College Board of Trustees are appointed, according to Rep. Mike Stone, the bill's sponsor.
House Bill 512, filed Tuesday, would eliminate all of the Lee County Board of Education's power to appoint trustees and would give it to the Lee County Board of Commissioners. The commissioners, school board and the governor's office now each get to appoint four trustees, and the Chatham and Harnett County commissioners get two appointments each.
In a statement provided to The Herald, Stone said that "it was inappropriate for the school board to place trustees on the CCCC board that do not have the best interest of the citizens, but the concerns of the board of education. It is simply a conflict of interest that must be corrected."
"Our entire government system is under financial pressure due to poor fiscal responsibility by previous administrations," Stone said. "The Lee County Board of Commissioners is working hard to hold the line with the many federal mandates they must administer and fund. The school board and CCCC compete for funding from the Board of Commissioners. . . Moving the trustee selections to the board of commissioners guarantees that the best interest of citizens will be the number one concern and fiscal accountability will be a major factor in the decision process."
Stone didn't say whether he'd spoken to trustees, school board members or commissioners, but did say he'd had discussions with residents who brought the issue to his attention.
"The Board of Trustees serve at the pleasure of those that appointed them," he said. "Elected officials, like myself, are accountable to the people. It is the opinion of the citizen trying to make ends meet and provide their children with a good education that I value most."
The bill would allow the school board to focus on educating Lee County's students, and placing the CCCC trustee appointments with the commissioners would provide greater fiscal responsibility, Stone said.
"The Board of Commissioners are entrusted with the task of providing a vision and running our county government," he said. "Fiscal responsibility in funding county services is the toughest part of their service. In these tough fiscal times, and with a large percentage of graduates of the Lee County School System requiring remedial classes to enter CCCC, it is necessary to put the responsibility of this issue in the hands of the Board of Commissioners."
CCCC Board of Trustee Chairman Julian Philpott couldn't be reached for comment Thursday, but said previously he wouldn't comment on the bill until he had spoken to Stone.