GOLDSBORO, N.C. — Nearly 100 percent of students in Goldsboro city schools are black. The Goldsboro City Council recently sent a letter to Wayne County commissioners, saying it is time to take the segregation issue seriously.
The letter cited WRAL's coverage of the issue as a source of embarrassment for the city and an impetus to make a change. Now, city officials want the commissioners and school board members to take the lead.
"As this point, we've got to forget politics because we're talking about a very serious issue," Goldsboro Mayor Al King said.
The letter to Wayne County commissioners calls for change -- calling the "lack of racial diversity" a "black eye on our city," saying "this situation has gone on too long."
"It's 99 percent black in the inner city and you're not going to send your children there as a white parent. You're going to send them out of the system or out of the county," city councilor Chuck Allen said.
"If anybody thinks this is a good trend, there's something wrong with them. That is not good and that must change. If it doesn't change, our community goes down the tubes," King said.
The council wants the commissioners to fund a study of the school system. The commissioners responded, saying they are willing to hire an "independent consultant" to look at the schools.
"It's everybody getting rid of the territorial issues and (saying) 'OK, let's talk about what we do for the kids,' and that's where we are," Wayne County Manager Lee Smith said.
"You have a school board that basically, for whatever reason, doesn't see this as a problem," Allen said.
School board members said they do see the problem, but they are not sure how to fix it. In the meantime, they are working on improving test scores in the schools.
"I think at this stage of the game, it would take something fairly dramatic to make a change and again, I think the Board of Education's primary concern has been the education of those students," assistant school Superintendent Craig McFadden said.
The school board is proposing an $82 million building plan; most of that money goes into schools in the county with very little going to city schools. The commissioners said it is important to deal with the concerns about diversity before they agree to support the plan. The county manager estimates the school study would cost $100,000.