Wake schools plan to hire lobbyist irks lawmakers
Posted February 6, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — At least two lawmakers have criticized the Wake County Board of Education for the board's decision Tuesday to hire a lobbyist to fend off efforts to relieve the board of some of its power.
The Wake County Board of Commissioners wants the General Assembly to turn over ownership of area schools to the county board, saying they would provide better management of taxpayer assets than the school board. The commissioners also want to change the way school board members are elected.
School board Chairman Keith Sutton called the commissioners’ plan an “obvious power grab” and said the school board needs to be “in the best position to not only respond, but to defend ourselves.” So, the board asked Interim Superintendent Stephen Gainey to hire a lobbyist.
Republican Rep. Chris Malone, a former school board member, said the move is a waste of money and that board members should just speak to area lawmakers themselves.
"Legislators are more than willing to listen to various points of view. However, I believe it is unwise and counterproductive for the current Wake School Board to argue that they are best positioned to protect taxpayer provided school construction dollars by wasting tax dollars to hire an unneeded lobbyist," Malone said in a statement. "The board should either make the case themselves or rely on the already taxpayer-funded lobbyist at the North Carolina School Boards Association.”
For some unexplained reason, Lee County Republican Mike Stone, whose district doesn't include any portion of the Wake County Public School System, also jumped on the school board.
"I am very concerned about the abuse of taxpayer dollars when it comes to hiring unneeded taxpayer-funded lobbyists," Stone said in a statement. "A school board located only miles from the General Assembly, with working telephones and computers, should use these taxpayer resources to educate children and should advocate their legislative concerns themselves."