Critical Race Theory, School Funding Dominate County Budget Adoption Meeting

● School Board Funded At $72M But Could Go To $79.9M
Commissioner Wood blasts school board for not educating students
Commissioners Vote Themselves 17% Pay Raises
● Fire Department Tax Rates Going Up
● County Funds 2 State Positions In District Attorney’s Office

The Johnston County Board of Commissioners adopted a $282 million budget for fiscal year 2021-2022 during its regular meeting Monday night. The budget lowers the tax rate from 76 to 73 cents per $100 valuation but includes increases in water and sewer fees. The highlight of the budget discussions involved funding to Johnston County Public Schools (JCPS) and withholding some funding until the school board adopts a policy banning the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in the public school system.

School board chairman Todd Sutton told Commissioners Monday night they were prepared to amend an existing policy to include the CRT ban if commissioners would fully fund their $79.9 million budget request this year.

Two citizens spoke during public comments urging all 7 commissioners to withhold funding from JCPS until they adopt an anti-CRT policy. One citizen likened the teaching of CRT to bringing Washington, DC politics to Johnston County communities.

In a motion by Commissioner Patrick Harris and seconded by Commissioner Fred Smith, they recommended funding JCPS at $72 million (their current level for the 2020-2021 fiscal year) again this year plus an additional $2.9 million for Capital Outlay. If the school board addresses three concerns they could receive an additional $7.9 million (matching their full $79.9 million request for 2021-2022) later in the fiscal year.

Commissioner Tony Braswell questioned why Harris and Smith wanted to withholding fund. “I don’t understand why. We just heard what the board chairman (Todd Sutton) has said. They will do this at their next board meeting. I believe them to be honorable people. I believe what they say… I’d like to know why we can’t go ahead and do the funding…”

The 3 Issues
Fred Smith replied school funding can be adjusted later this year, even next month. He said there are three issues the school board needs to address before funding increases. “There are three issues as I see with school budget that we need more facts. I’m not talking about promises, I’m talking about facts.”

“Number one. We need a policy that says in our school system we don’t teach the Critical Race Theory.”

“Number two. In the school budget, they assume, hypothetically assume, that the State will cut their per pupil funding 1,250 students. Each student is funded $6,604 and after adjustments 46 potential teacher loses. That $8,354,463, minus $2,415,000, leaves in their budget a projected loss, a projected of $5,939,463 and they are asking us to fund a projected loss, and we don’t know if that loss will materialize or not. We will be here, the Lord willing, when the State adopts its budget and when the State decides what its per pupil funding is, and if in fact the budget is cut, then at that time we will, and I assume, I pledge to, and you pledge to, fund any shortfall in the per pupil allowance.”

“The third item is the teacher salary increase. The teacher salary increase in the school budget assumes a 5 percent salary increase. We do not know what salary increase the General Assembly will pass and I’m suggesting we do for the school system the same thing we’re doing for the community college system. The community college system is saying in their budget, they are not going to budget any increase in salaries until they know what the General Assembly budgets. Then they would come back to us and ask for an increase based upon the percentage the General Assembly adopts. I propose we do the same thing with the school system, that when the General Assembly decides, whether it be 2 percent, 3 percent, 4 percent, whatever it is, the school system would then come with facts and then we would at that time approve those funds,” Commissioner Smith said.

“The only people presenting Critical Race Theory for being a funding issue is the school board. They have it 100 percent within their power to adopt a policy saying they will not teach Critical Race Theory in our schools. That’s 100 percent in their power. Second, as soon as we know what the per pupil funding is we will at that time fund that. As soon as we know what the (teacher salary) increase passed by the General Assembly we will fund that. I think this is a generous program the county commissioners have said we’re going to fund, what we need to fund to educate our children.”

“Next year, when we can get bonding capacity, I think we need to pass a bond to move towards eliminating all mobile classrooms. I am committed to help educate our children. I am not committed to having our children indoctrinated. Critical Race Theory indoctrinates school children with toxic and some of the most anti-American theories ever considered,” Smith stated.

Commissioner Braswell asked Smith if he wrote the budget or if Commissioner Harris wrote the budget.

Commissioner Harris replied, “Commissioner (Braswell) this is a long and tedious process of compromise and conversation with all the commissioners. And so, I can sit here today and speak for myself and say I’d like to fund the school system for exactly what they asked for. I thinks that’s what we should do because we need to be dedicated to the education of our children.”

Critical Race Theory is divisive
“But the Critical Race Theory and these divisive things that have come up recently, this is a huge problem. And I think the intention of the motion is, is to give them the opportunity to go back and adopt the policy, make the corrections that need to be made, and I’ll go on record and say that I would support funding them the full amount that they’ve asked for. We’ve funded the full amount of their capital outlay. It’s not about taking away from the school system. It’s not about taking away from the children. It’ s about ensuring the public that we’re going to get that policy in place so that they can have peace of mind knowing that divisive things, and you can call it whatever, are being taught to our children. And I think it’s very important not to be divisive,” Commissioner Harris told Commissioner Braswell.

“Obviously Chairman Sutton has come and made a statement. I believe he is going to do what he says he is going to do. This gives him an opportunity. He didn’t have time to get it done by today, but this gives him an opportunity to get it done and come back to the board for additional funding,” Harris said.

County Commissioner Chairman Chad Stewart added, “I think the school board has showed (sp) great effort and they don’t want it in the school system. The commissioners have said they don’t want it in the school system. I know Commissioner Smith said its very simple, adopt CRT and the game is over with. Well, what about other forms creeping in. So trying to get seven commissioners and seven school board members to have the wording of a policy as it pertains to theories in our school system will never get done, will never get done. So at some point we’ve got to compromise… that’s just where I’m at right now.”

“You know every year I’ve been here we’ve increased the funds, yet our results have got worse.”

Commissioner Larry Wood gave the most passionate speech of the night. “I’ve heard the school budget, I’ve heard three items that have been brought into question, concern, CRT, losing 1250 students, teacher salary increases. I think all are important… I have to draw back on my memory. I’ve been here a short time. Some of you have been here twice what I have. But it was just a few years ago we were wondering where 3, 5, 8, 9, 14 million dollars went. We had a lot of promises…”

“I think there is a lot of issues that we have been through, both boards, as a county, but when I look at the Johnston County Report card on DPI and I see the results we’re coming up with, I’m appalled. I’m appalled. We keep taking about funds, more funds, more funds. You know every year I’ve been here we’ve increased the funds, yet our results have got worse. Are we talking about money here or are we talking about taking our eye off the ball where we’re worried about what color somebody’s skin is, where they were born, their last name. I would like, I talked to Mr. Smith today, and he told me about these three things, I heard Commissioner Braswell talk about having hurdles to jump and this, that and the other, but I think the most important hurdle.”

“I think it’s time our kids in the fifth grade can read in the fifth grade level.”
Commissioner Wood continued, “I would add number four down here. I think it’s time we started teaching math, science, English. I think it’s time our kids in the fifth grade can read in the fifth grade level. I’m sick and tired of bickering back and forth between boards about this, that and the other. We’ve taken our eye off the ball. We’ve taken our eye off the ball as a county, as people, as Americans, as free people.”

“So, Mr. Braswell, I want to add number four down there, I want to see some results, I want to see some kids learning, I want to see things happening in our school system. I want to teachers not afraid to teach. They’ve obviously put their life’s work into going to college, not to be rich, not to be famous, but for the passion of teaching. Now if we’re going to get caught up into which side of the railroad tracks, which side of 95 somebody grew up on, we’re wasting everybody’s time here. We might as well make the budget at zero. So, when are we going to start teaching kids how to read and write? Or do we need to be in the parking lot worried about whose Dad is at home at 12 o’clock at night. We’ve just listed money and money after money after money with real tax dollars in it. We’ve got Partnership for Children, we’ve got Access Healthcare, we’ve got homeless shelters, I’m disappointed. I’m just disappointed.”

Letters to Commissioner
Commissioner Smith responded, “The great President Ronald Reagan said ‘trust but verify.’ That’s all we’re trying to do.”

“I can’t tell you how many emails and phone calls I’ve received on this issue. Let me read you an example. ‘I’m a Johnston County teacher. I’ve mailed to commissioners a flyer expressing my sentiment and concern that Critical Race Theory is alive and well in Johnston County to the Johnston County Commissioners.’

“Number two. ‘Two years ago I received training from Johnston County Public School officials regarding Critical Race Theory and so-called anti-white privilege. Last year, my teacher received training about white privilege in a zoom call from Johnston County school officials.'”

“Number three. ‘Dr. Amanda Allen, who is head of Johnston County guidance counselors K through 12 is actively promoting a book to all guidance counselors called White Fragility, about Critical Race Theory and other books that promote Critical Race Theory and gender equality.'”

“We’re not shadow boxing here. These are facts, facts about our Country, facts about who we are as a people, and Johnston County is just one county in America,” Smith stated.

Godwin: Lowering Property Tax Rate “Irresponsible”
Commissioner Ted Godwin then spoke. “I’ve sat quiet for a long time. Regarding the budget overall, I’ve got a problem with several bullet points on here. I’ve been called a little to the right of Jesse Helms but I think lowering the tax rates 3 cents is irresponsible in the long run. I’m all for lowering the tax rates but I don’t know what life’s going to hold next year or the year after. I remember back in ’07 and ’08 when times were really tough and I’m afraid we might see that in the future and I’d like to be prepared for it but in the spirit of compromise I’m willing to go along with this. I don’t believe bullet number two (funding two District Attorney positions) should be a part of this. It is a state funded position but I understand it is critical to that department and in the spirit of compromise I’m willing to go along with it. I was impressed Chairman Sutton had to say tonight.”

Commissioners Pay Raise
Commissioners voted to give themselves a 17 percent pay raise starting July 1st.

As chairman, Chad Stewart will see his annual salary increase from $14,317 to $16,803. In addition, the chairman receives $6,000 travel per year, health insurance coverage valued at $9,060, and life insurance valued at $31.56.

Other commissioners will see their pay increase from $13,016 to $15,275 annually. In addition, each commissioner receives $4,800 travel, health insurance coverage valued at $9,060, and life insurance valued at $29.40.

Salaries
All county employees will receive a three percent salary increase in July with a potential performance pay adjustment of an additional two percent in September. Four county employees, all appointed by the board of commissioners, received a higher salary increase.

County manager Rick Hester was given a 7.3% salary jump from $203,159 to $217,990. County attorney Jennifer Slusser was given a 10.4 percent increase from $152,065 to $167,880. Tax Administrator Jocelyn Andrews was given a 8.9% pay hike from $1112,320 to $122,384. The Clerk to the Board, Paula Woodard, received a 2.5% salary increase from $72,217 to $76,502.
These salaries do not include the 3 percent across the board adjustment or the potential 2 percent merit adjustment the four employees will also received.

Funding
Commissioners approved additional funding in the budget for some public agencies, civic, community and non-profits including:

$15,000 – Re-Entry Program
$1,200,000 – Economic Development budget / Speculative Building Program
$100,000 – MyKid’s Club (for new facility)
$15,000 – Clayton Fire Department for contracted technical rescue services
$9,000 – PrincetonFire Deaprtment for contracted technical rescue services
$11,000 – Beaver Management Assistance program
$143,000 – NC Forestry Service Johnston County office
$75,000 – Harbor Inc.
$21,000 – Smithfield Rescue Mission
$25,000 – Moccassin Creek Service District Drainage Study
$50,000 – Project Access
$10,000 – Special Olympics
$200,000 – Johnston County Regional Airport (for grant matches)
$60,000 – Benson Veterans Memorial Park
$29,108 – Four Oaks Veterans Memorial Park
$150,000 – Town of Micro Community Building
$50,000 – Partnership for Children of Johnston County
$610,000 – Johnston County Public Library in Smithfield
$1,573,340 – Town of Smithfield water line project

Two State Positions
County Commissioners agreed to spending $125,193 for two District Attorney positions until the State of North Carolina adopts their budget. The county had previously funded the positions from Jan. 1 – June 30, 2021 after state funds ran out on Dec. 31, 2020.

Johnston Community College
Commissioners appropriated $4,853,910 for current expense and $2,091,176 for capital outlay for Johnston Community College.

Fire Tax Rates
Commissioners approved an increase in the fire tax district rates for a number of departments including:

● Cleveland Fire Dept – 7.25 to 9.25 cents per $100 value
● Princeton Fire Dept – 5 to 10 cents per $100 value
● Kenly Fire Dept – 8 to 10 cents per $100 value
● Meadow Fire Dept – 7 to 11 cents per $100 value
● Micro Fire Dept – 10 to 12 cents per $100 value
● Benson Fire Dept – 10 to 12 cents per $100 value
● Corinth Holders FD – 10 to 11 cents per $100 value
● Bethany FD – 10 to 12 cents per $100 value
● Brogden FD – 8 to 10 cents per $100 value
● Blackman’s Crossroads FD – 8 to 13 cents per $100 value

Open Space Fees
Commissioners adopted an increase in open space fees paid by developers. The price will increase from $800 to $1000 effective September 1, 2021.

The new budget takes effect July 1, 2021


Related article:
Ronald Johnson Op-Ed: CRT Policy Is Based On Money Not Values


This story has been updated

27 COMMENTS

  1. Lesson #1 is before you can grow you need to know all about where you came from. History is ugly, and we should accept that and move forward. It’s unfortunate that Mr Cowboy and his cohorts have a problem with kids knowing that their white ancestors enslaved black people, and that that may have affected their lives and the lives of future generations. Why do we not want to teach facts? The “CRT” label is the latest far-right propaganda. They’ve seized this obscure term so they can scare parents who don’t know better. Don’t most people want to know about history? Knowing and accepting the past is the only way to grow to the future. I am more concerned that we have a board of commissioners, several of whom per this article clearly have serious issues with grammar and the English language. That is of extreme concern in our growing county. How are we to attract more educated residents, teachers and industry when some of our county commissioners advertise that we are still a bunch of tobacco-spitters? How do we expect to land better teachers for our burgeoning population when said commissioners espouse views that are outside the mainstream?

    • CRT is a load of crap and should not be in our schools. And very nice of you to call the Commissioners tobacco spitters. Would be interested to know what racist stereotypes you think are acceptable in society today.

    • Why aren’t we pissed off that the commissioners voted themselves a 17% pay raise? Why do we pay them at all? and why do they get medical insurance for a part-time job? No one working part-time does? These commissioners volunteered to run for office, They volunteered to serve if elected. When you volunteer you don’t get paid, or get healthcare. What a scam on the citizens of JOCO. We should DEMAND they give up their taxpayer provides health care which I’m sure cost more in the long run than just the premium cost listed. I guess the citizens of JOCO deserve who they elected.😱

      • Yes all those big pay raises struck me wrong too! Many people in this county are still struggling from the plandemic but yet we can give huge pay raises to people only looking out for themselves, not the citizens they are supposed to be representing.

  2. Mr Cowboy just wants us to keep fighting amongst ourselves, so no one really pays attention to what’s really going on, like allowing wavers and special exemptions so they can put in more developments that will eventually cost tax payers more money for new roads and infrastructure. Oh that’s right, Me Cowboy is both a developer and a road contractor. It’s the best of both worlds for him, go figure 🤬

  3. The public school system is broken.It’s ran by an insidious cabal of crooks, cowards, cronyists, and half-witted leftist commies. I cant thank the good Lord enough for blessing my family with the ability to home school our children and educate them properly.

    It’s an absolute crime that there are so many fifth graders who cant even read at a fifth grade level! Our children are reading and comprehending at 4 and 5 grade levels above their peers. They’re even working on reading Japanese and neither is out of elementary school yet!

    If you haven’t pulled your precious little gifts from heaven out of the public school system yet and you can afford to properly educate them at home, you’d better do it and soon. Like the article says, every year the public school system wants more and more money yet, every year the public school system just gets worse and worse.

    You cant throw cash at crooks, cowards, cronyists, and half-witted leftist commies and expect they’ll do their jobs. If you haven’t figured it out by now, your children’s education IS NOT the number one priority of the public school system.

  4. I would gladly invite Mr. Tom Oneill to visit a class and see how quickly students are coming to call each other and teachers racist. (mind you they usually do this to teachers when they are in trouble) Then they turn around and call each other the “N” word. The fact is that most children of today have no idea what a true racist looks or acts like. I believe in teaching history but much of what is being taught is hate. No one should have to carry the guilt or shame for something that they had no control over. When you are dealing with 5-13 years old, you are molding their mind, and hate is hard to erase. If you teach hate, you will get hate and that is what we are seeing in all these big cities. It is pure EVIL and HATE! I would rather see someone spitting tobacco than I had see them spewing hate!

  5. I know everyone is up in arms about CRT (rightfully so) but holy sh*t let’s look at the waste being spent. I don’t live in Micro, so why are my tax dollars going to pay for their building? Let the citizens of Micro pay for it. Same for all other town projects.

    • Yes we have a problem with CRT, but it’s not what you think. Constantly Ripping off Taxpayers. 17% pay raise!!!!! Keep voting for these idiots.

      • Maybe we should pay them hourly and have them keep track of their time. I believe they all have primary jobs. I could be wrong. But maybe you ought to run if it is such a financial windfall.

        I would be interested in knowing the hours they put in compared to their pay.

  6. Well A. Abernathy, if the kids are calling each other names and espousing hate, it’s most likely because they’re seeing their parents do it, else being subjected to Putin’s propoganda machine in the US I mean Newsmax – again, because their parents are watching it. They aren’t calling each other names due to the phony construct of “critical race theory” that got tossed into the Culture Wars last month. And to be fair, it is an insult to the majority of white people when you hear various protestors – and students – claim the US is a “racist country.” We’ve come a long way. 20-something BLM activists would do well to listen to those who lived through the 60s. Brethren like Jim Clyburn know we may have a long way to go, but give us credit for coming a long way. Acknowledging what slavery did through history is not going to divide anyone anymore than we’ve been divided by Putin and Trump and the Radical Right media! Acknowledge history and move on. We will all be the better for it.

    As for “who voted for this guy,” he’s the same slimy scumbag as he was 25 years ago. I can’t believe the suckers he convinced to let him buy another election. Don’t forget the illegal propaganda dropped by “someone” on his behalf, which “someone else” magically threw out of court.

    But again, if elected officials in charge of highly consequential financial matters want to talk about PROPERLY EDUCATING OUR KIDS……shouldn’t we elect officials who can actually SPELL and SPEAK on a high school level? The IRONY. How embarrassing.

    • How can you vote yourself a 7.3% pay increase and give the county staff only 3%??? Not to mention the higher pay increases for the folks making the most money already (attorney, etc)….all get a higher pay increase than the county employees. All those who voted for this need to be immediately removed and replaced. Period. This really disgusts me.

  7. Looks like left’s racist fragility is showing….🤭

    Everyone who knows American history knows that liberalism (democrats and progressives alike) are purveyors of racism and racist systems and organizations. Why, the left are the Johnny Appleseed of racist structures.

    From the slave trade to the civil war, from Jim Crow to the KKK, from to Nazism to the 1994 crime bill, from Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood to CRT, from the death of George Floyd to the murders of Secoria Turner and David Dorn.

    Liberalism is responsible for the massacre of more black and minority groups than any other group in American history.

    I think 🤔 I now understand why they want to erase and rewrite history so badly. Liberalism is a virus, a plague essentially claiming more innocent lives than 100 CCP viruses combined.

    • I wish to God we could have a God-honest conversation, because I don’t know what you are talking about, and I have a feeling it comes from the media you consume.

        • It’s called reading Mom and John. I have more history books on my shelves than you have channels piped into your home pre disposing you to their manufactured hate and faux shame.

          I don’t watch TV. 😁

          It’s really amazing, the lefts talking points are ineffective when your not bathed in their insidious propaganda. What a concept? 🤔

          Free your minds you two. Read a book. You’ll see the Democrats haven’t changed since they first purchased slaves from Africa.

          Here’s a clue Mom, because evidently you have none, it’s liberalism that says “I’m so free that I can own another human being. You’ll have to go to war with me to stop me.”

          Another freebie, Jim Crow was a Democrat. The 1994 crime bill, aka Jim Crow 2.0, was authored and authorized by Democrats, one of them being Joe Biden.

          Conservatism says “live within your means. You only need as much farm land as you work yourself or that you can hire enough hands to work.”

          There’s a reason the first politically active blacks in America we’re Republicans. In part because Democrats we’re busy forming the KKK and capturing and killing blacks.

          Democrats, Leftists and progressives are single handedly responsible for the massacre of more minority groups than any other single force in American history. The Left’s Racist Fragility. It continues to this very day.

          If you two can manage to get off your couches 🤭, I challenge you explain here for everyone why I’m wrong.😘 #GoodLuck #BooksAreFly

          • I wish we could edit these comments for grammatical errors. My internet is down today and my phone’s autocorrect went haywire.

            A couple of those “we’re” are actually “were”. One your should be you’re.

            Alas. 😭

  8. Think it’s time wipe the county clean and get rid of ALL of those …. well can’t say what I want but, JoCo is in serious need of RESTRUCTURING!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    House full of DEMS

  9. Fred Smith’s comments reveal (not to the TRUE AMERICAN PATRIOTS, mind you) much of what is wrong in this entire “discourse.” Without any kind of pushback or questioning, he is able to espouse these “truths from the field” by airing his propaganda and passing it off as “concerned citizens.”

    First of all, there is no evidence to support that CRT is, “alive and well in Johnston County.” Simply put, this is a lie. (A “lie” is an assertion of something known or believed by the speaker or writer to be untrue with intent to deceive.). Making this assertion is an attempt to bring outrage… and in this point, he is successful. It’s wonderful that JoCoReport gives him so much space…

    Secondly, it seems impossible for those on the white – I mean right – to cease conflating exposure to concepts of privilege with CRT. Nobody received “training from Johnston County Public School officials regarding Critical Race Theory and so-called anti-white privilege.” Full stop.

    Third, White Fragility is NOT CRT. And the author – Robin DiAngelo – is not a CRT writer/theorist.

    This reply likely won’t get posted. ?

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