Refusing To Kiss Commissioners’ Obedience Ring

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 5, 2012

Casual readers may be forgiven for their confusion over the latest dust-up about Davie High School. Most thought the Twelve Year War had been won by “The Few” after the Board of Education read the tea leaves, realized the high school is on sacred ground and decided to improve the existing campus.
Having won, most would have furled their battle flags, declared victory, released the prisoners and gone home.
“The Few,” as Superintendent Darrin Hartness cleverly describes them, now insist on bayonetting the dead on the battlefield. They want a cheap remodel of the long-ignored high school that begs for much more to be respectable.
The Board of Commissioners wants to spend $5 million for enough classrooms to replace the unsightly trailers. Remodeling projects, as any homeowner has discovered, always cost more than expected. The commissioners’ $5 million won’t buy much.
The school board is hiring an architect to design the job correctly, prompting “The Few” to howl anew. An architect might design improvements with a $10 million or $15 million price tag.  Ultra conservative commissioners would have to become tax-and-spend liberals. Imagine the epitaph on the commissioners’ tombstones: “Raised taxes.”
Thus, the hue and cry. Maybe it’s their low salt diet. Maybe they were weaned too early as infants, but the watchdogs are trying to dictate, not observe. Neither elected nor appointed, they have intruded heavily into the school’s business for years, tying up superintendents, school board attorneys and the staff with onerous requests for thousands of emails and documents. Their ploy has been to grind the process to a halt until the next election.
“The Few” hope to stack the board of education with more sympathetic votes. Woe unto us if we elect school board members not on their character and community spirit but on their truculence about Davie High. We never will find a light at the end of the tunnel for our county’s Vietnam.
Another year has passed without a resolution to this nagging problem. God bless the school board members for enduring this nightmare that has exposed how unreasonable and disagreeable this debate has become. It’s no longer about two high schools. It’s not about providing children with a reasonable education in adequate facilities. This is a power tussle. The commission lords want to bring the school board serfs to heel.
The school board has shown a new spine. No board of education in North Carolina should ever bow to a board of commissioners. They are both elected, independent boards accountable to the voters, not to the whims of the opposite board. The commissioners can enact any accounting rule …