With heart-warming stories, personal thoughts and reflections, advice from work experience-the more than 50 public speakers that attended the public hearing of the Alamance County budget for 2015-16 spoke for and against the proposed tax increase, more local funding for public schools and raises for county employees.
The Enterprise is publishing a few of the public comments that represent various thoughts and opinions.
Alamance-Burlington Schools superintendent Dr. William “Bill” Harrison. “For two years, the community came together with a vision for public education empowering all students. Public education is economic development. We must invest in teaching, leadership, specialized programs, facilities, working conditions, and a plan for compensation for building level employees. We’re determined to reach this and can’t do A to Z overnight. But we have a systematic, intentional strategic plan to get there. We need an increase in local funding of $3.4 million. We’re losing teachers and principals to surrounding counties. Since I’ve been here, since last July, we’ve lost three principals to Durham and Orange counties. We need to get started on our capital needs. You’ve allocated $250,000. We need $750,000. Please make the difficult and courageous decision.”
Glen Raven chairman and CEO Allen Gant. “With the all the energy I can muster, I ask you to have the courage to put the schools’ budget as originally proposed in its entirety in the county budget. We fail as a county if we don’t invest in our schools. Unfortunately, we have neglected this system for a long time. I’m sitting here at Williams High School in the auditorium on the same cover on the seats I sat at in 1961. The community needs to come together and invest in our children. If you need to raise taxes, do it. It will cost Glen Raven $50,000 to $60,000 and we’re all in. We absolutely embrace what you have to do to make our schools and county competitive. Education is the only thing spoken of in the North Carolina Constitution. Use your courage and invest in this community, in our schools.”
Ron Shive. Personal Experience. “I saw a mother going to the food line. Food was running out. One banana left. She was grateful. She divided it into three parts for her children. I saw the face of God reflected on the face of this mother. We are fathers and mothers of the 22,700 children in the school system in Alamance County. Now is the time for us to sacrifice for the well-being of our children. When you support improving our children, others will see the face of God on you.” (Editor’s note: A public speaker later on praised Shive for his two-minute sermon and said he expected sermons at the Presbyterian Church would get shorter.)
Michael Schmiederer. “I express my support for the budget, the county employee pay raises. Our county employees are not servants. They are husbands, wives with families to support. Provide compensation for their services. I’ve seen the county and the school board collaborate now on education. The vision plan is in place. Let’s show companies looking to come here that we’re willing to support the infrastructure and education for the betterment of all.”
Rick Adams. “I represent and am speaking for senior citizens and small businesses. No one in the business sector gets a raise like you’ve proposed. You’ve giving it to management. Senior citizens cannot afford this tax increase.”
Joe Tickle. “Senior citizens and poor people can’t stand the tax increase. They live week to week, can’t make it. You said the tax rate was about right in the past. What happened? Have we exhausted all the spending cuts? We’ve wasted money on consultants. Think about the elderly and the poor people before you vote.”
Stuart Smith. “I’m in favor of the superintendent’s budget for education being fully funded. I’ve seen it in several counties I travel with my work with Coca-Cola and I see the maintenance issues, the snapshot of how our schools are in need. I have observed where the friendly environments and better opportunities are. We need to keep our teachers and principals. We don’t want to lose the best and the brightest. We need our social workers. We need to make the class size proportionate for learning. Our seasoned, veteran teachers are coveted by other school systems. It’s about our children. We need to step up.”