Morehead City, N.C.
Feb. 21, 2020
TO THE EDITOR:
After reading BOE Member Travis Day’s candidate profile in the paper, there are more questions than answers and some clarity is required regarding his responses and the current state of the board of education elections in the county.
Talks of “fiscal responsibility” and “respectful with tax dollars provided by citizens,” seems off seeing as how Travis Day’s personal campaign to close the MaST school without following his board’s own policies and laws resulted in legal fees in excess of $20,000 and legal action against the school system.
Also, Travis Day’s comments on the superintendent, accountability, and transparency are questionable. In my opinion, there appears to be some type of personal vendetta as well as a desire on the part of the county commissioners to exert improper influence on individual members of the board of education. This may not have been, nor ever seems to be, in the best interest of ALL parents, students, and staff. Superintendent Matt Bottom’s resignation letter in the following link confirms this: https://tinyurl.com/CCPS-resignation.
Furthermore, remember that board of education member Kathryn Chadwick was the first board member in recent history to contact our state senator asking them to NOT fund an educational program within the county. One has to wonder what else she is asking our state representatives NOT to fund for education or other areas. It’s astonishing to see such an overt act, of someone in an elected position, pursuing their own economic interests and agendas without regard for consequences or ethical considerations.
So in the current election, you see multiple board of education members and county commissioners endorsing Travis Day and others, and it’s evident why. Mr. Day and others are willing to concede to what commissioners want, whether it be personnel issues, calendar issues or MaST funding. His behavior indicates that all our children are not his primary concern. In the MaST debate, seventeen teachers, not three or four teacher positions, would benefit all children, but Mr. Day fell short in advocating that because the county commissioners would not have supported that.
The commissioners understand that any change they can’t control in the membership of the board of education affects their ability to influence it. You see this in Mr. Bottom’s resignation letter. Conversations about long term plans at White Oak and western expansion all had to be vetted with the county commissioners to determine their approval - not the voters, taxpayers, and parents of children.
The county commissioners refusal to engage in a school bond referendum to modernize and plan for expanded facilities across the county allows for a glaring look at inequity across the schools in the county, specifically, with school facilities at Beaufort Middle, Down East, Newport Elementary and Morehead Elementary suffering the worst. The result is leaving dated facilities to continue to be band-aided for the next two to three decades. This result is that your child and their needs will always be second to whatever the commissioners want, not what the parents, staff, and voters support.
Let me repeat this - the school’s growth problems are due to the inability of the county commissioners to address growth challenges when faced with the facts, instead focusing on electing and controlling those individuals that provide them with said facts.
County commissioners already own the school board; partisan school board elections essentially ensured it. You will ONLY get support from county commissioners and/or the local Republican Party leaders IF you honor their requests on hiring/firing and personnel decisions, which likely are not in the best interest of your child. This control ensures that the BOE’s school budget requests are minimal or that the commissioner’s pet projects are funded, or in the case of MaST, they are not funded.
A county commissioner calling in a ‘favor’ for a school personnel related matter. Commissioners asking to be appointed to the community college board of trustees and serving on the board of trustees. There is not another neighboring county (Onslow/Craven) where county commissioners also ‘sit’ on the community college board to which they allocate funds. These examples would give the appearance of violating potential ethical boundaries.
Concerns were expressed by board members, but assuaged by others, about the potential budget impact for not honoring these ‘requests’ only to still have received a budget less than what they requested. Republican Party meetings occurred where local party leaders and commissioners yelled at the board of education members to ‘remember where their money comes from’ when these members were advocating for education and the need for a county-wide vote, to reverse a previous vote, for overturning non-partisan school board elections. True professionalism is totally absent, Christian values abandoned, replaced with self-serving interests spearheaded by a desire to control.
I have never witnessed this type of tribalism in an area that is predominantly Republican. It’s egregious, foolish and goes unnoticed largely because the public either does not know or is not concerned with political infighting, even though it negatively impacts the best use of taxpaying dollars.
Specifically, for the current board, it would be interesting to see if board member Clark Jenkins would provide his receipts for his previous BOE campaign for advertising. Is it possible that a certain county commissioner from the east was involved with financing most or all of it (Facebook, signs, print, and TV)? Also, why was Commissioner Mark Mansfield managing the Facebook page of Mr. Jenkins’ campaign? The same goes for Travis Day and Jerry Buttery. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see who is paying for their campaign signs, advertising and organizing their events?
Furthermore, one has to wonder why board member Kathryn Chadwick votes on a budget that includes economic benefits for her business? Now her husband is advocating for board members across the county. One has to wonder if that is to continue to enable the opportunity for them to benefit economically from the county’s largest buyer?
Jerry Buttery, a candidate that the Chadwick’s support, talked about the “quality of people already on the board.” Based on the above resignation letter and the listed behaviors, it appears as though Mr. Buttery is either ignorant of these facts or actually complicit in this type of behavior.
The recent letters to the editor by BOE member Chadwick and BOC Member Mansfield speak of being ‘nice’ and ‘politeness.’ Again, that same requested decorum was totally absent in Mrs. Chadwick’s presence when Mr. Day was dealing with parents during the MaST debacle and the working relationship with the former superintendent. This type of behavior reeks of unprofessionalism. It is the exact opposite of the leadership required to maintain excellence.
Travis Day’s election poses an unnecessary risk that county voters should not take, especially considering the current $20,000 in legal fees. There was no apology to the taxpayers, system or students for his unnecessary mayhem, just a total lack of humility with a renewed emphasis of his own hubris as if we are all his students. We need less smoke and mirrors and self-serving interests permeating our school board and more honest decisions made to benefit our children, their parents, staff and taxpayers.
I am confident that both life-long Republicans, Katie Statler and Andrea Beasley, are not a part of any self-serving agenda and have the best interests of the entire school system, our children, their parents, and taxpayers always.