“We Need New Leadership And A New Direction In Our School System” County Commissioner Says

SMITHFIELD – A Johnston County commissioner says the Johnston County Board of Education needs new leadership and a new direction. Commissioner Fred Smith made the comments following a news report Monday that revealed school board members and the chief financial officer allegedly discussed how to conceal $8 million from Johnston County Commissioners. The audio recording was made during an informal March 2022 budget workshop attended by school board members Ronald Johnson, Kay Carroll, and Lyn Andrews. Mr. Johnson made the audio recording.

Reacting to the story, Commissioner Smith said, “I think it shows the things that I said as a county commissioner in public meetings about we cannot trust the financial figures the school board gave us. They’re still continuing to want more money. The figures are not reliable with the money they have. Their figures on needs for schools and potential students are not accurate. I brought that to the attention and stood up for that in our county commissioner meetings. I was the lone voice.”

“We as commissioners have to be good stewards of taxpayers money and also the school board, to accumulate that money without holding them accountable, allowing the school board to build a high school when our present high schools are not being efficiently utilized. Their projections on students is not accurate because statistics show between home schooling and private schools, all of the new residents don’t go to public schools.”

“We’ve got to do a better job of being good stewards of taxpayers money. Our citizens work hard for their money. During these inflationary times we should have cut taxes but when you believe the school board – who does these shenanigans with taxpayers money – you can’t do a good job of taking care of the taxpayers money.”

Asked if the NC State Auditor should step in and conduct a forensic audit of JCPS financial records, Commissioner Smith responded, “I think that would be fine. The voters in this county need to change the educational structure of this county. That’s more important that an audit. An audit is fine but at the end of the day we need new leadership and a new direction in our school system.”

Smith voted against a request by the Johnston County School Board to place a $177 million construction bond referendum before voters this November. During the May 2022 county commission meeting, Smith said in the last 3 years JCPS has been funded $36 million more than they needed to operate. He believes the school board has between $100-103 million on hand, according to statements he made at the May meeting.

County Commission Chairman Butch Lawter released a statement about the audio recording made public Monday. “The Commissioners are aware of the article published in the Johnston County Report and take all of the information very seriously. We will work to gather the facts surrounding the claims in the article.”

Lane Rosen, a Communications Specialist with the Office of State Auditor, said “It is the policy of the Office of the State Auditor that we will neither confirm nor deny that an audit or investigation is in progress or has been requested. Audit reports become public record when they are released, but are considered confidential prior to release.”

Johnston County Schools, school board member Kay Carroll, and Chief Financial Officer Stephen Britt have not responded to our request for a comment.


      • As the numbers show, the schools have gotten 25% more money and yet havent increased student population numbers very much. In addition, test scores and performance have DECREASED. What are the taxpayers getting for their money? Less intelligent students.

        So it’s not a money problem, but a policy problem. It’s also a home/culture problem. Parents need to be reminded THEY are responsible for their children’s outcomes and future, not the county or state.

  1. Yes, listen to Fred Smith who is just another political hack building subdivisions for his personal gain.

        • This article is about funds and the schools. Why would he recuse himself? He is a builder. You seem mad because he is a successful business person. You do realize that if he builds houses and people do not buy them, that is not good business, right? The demand is there.

  2. Kinda shocked, the only one on the board who seems somewhat legit is the guy they appointed to replace the illegal zuckowski.

  3. And you can bet CC Smith will be backing his fellow developers the Antoines for the school board. Larger plan in play here. And CC Smith is a huge part of the bigger problems in this county with his cookie cutter subdivisions. And did he really win his seat without cheating? I don’t think so.

    • If wish I could clone Mr. Smith and have him and his clones run the Board. He’s got fiscal sanity, and is willing to hold feet to fire. Say what you will about his housing developments, but the man knows how to handle money responsibly.

  4. This happened in March, why did Ronald wait till now to bring this out unless he trying to deflect the police investigation on him. To anyone associated with Ronald DO NOT TRUST him with any conversation, this is the second time he has illegally recorded a private meeting’s with no repercussion’s for committing a crime. Hopefully someone will illegally record his investigation hearing and leak it to the press.

    • Walk tumble I hate to tell you this. As long as one person knows about the recording who is apart of the conversation then it is not illegal. You can go into a conversation yourself and not tell the other person about recording it without breaking any laws. Yes Ronald Johnson is very two faced and I know this first hand. I know many people think he is a great guy but if it will help him he will not think twice about throwing someone under the bus. I do believe that this entire board needs to be flushed down the toilet along with Ronald Johnson and we need some new blood in there that have the parent/student/teachers interests in mind instead of their own.

  5. Fred is right on one thing, you county residents need to stop listening to one sided media outlets, stop voting party over your country or county, seek the truth and vote in better candidates. Its a mess, commissioner charged with messing with children, school board members on unpaid leave, hiding funds, my grandchild and others like her,being assaulting in our schools, and the comments im reading are the same , from people with no skin in the game. Mark my word, democracy is on the way out, if citizens don’t get involved in all parts of governance. We need a complete overhaul of our systems, a constitution that represents all not just the elites. The unmitigated right to vote for all citizens. And take money out of voting EQUATION. (SUPREME COURT!). NO SOCIETY last forever, this one is cracking rapidly! No one tribe or groups can save her, It’s all of us, or none of us.

      • You’re right. The key word in your statement was ‘legal.’ The sad thing is that there are some that want to grow the plantation and give non-citizens the right to vote.

  6. The fact remains, Johnston County is near the bottom of the state in per pupil funding, and the state is near the bottom of the nation in education funding, and politicians like Fred Smith here are looking for any excuse to not increase funding, including this overblown issue.

  7. I don’t trust any of them but I do like that Smith is and has been speaking out about the finances of the school system. He’s at least trying to hold them accountable.

  8. Not efficiently utilized….has he ridden by a High School lately, better yet been in one??? No! We will not stand for year round schools or Wake County track schedules Commissioner Smith!!

  9. Why do.they need another bond when those 2 are trying to hide money? Use the money you already have and stop asking for more that is NOT going to our schools. Have you seen the school supply list lately. Put some money into that as well. It’s time everyone step up and take care of their own!!!!

  10. The percentages he quotes are way. It is a 3% increase in students from 2017 to 2021. The rest of his percentage calculations are incorrect as well. This is a clear case as to why money needs to used in Johnston county school system if you can’t even calculate percentages correctly.
    Yes, numbers do tell a story when you compare them to something but he has chosen the student to dollar ratio. He is not including the increased cost of supplies, inflation, cost of living increases, construction cost increases, salary increases (while not nearly enough) gas increases, etc. etc. If he does not include the whole picture then it is only a snapshot of information that plays to the point he is trying to make. Its a convenient way of using hard numbers skewed to meet his agenda.

  11. They said it was taken out of context when he said “hide the money.” I completely agree. I told my wife yesterday i was “going to the store.” Came home 4 hours later with a tan and smelling of fish and beer. She said “i thought you were going to the store” in a very angry voice. How she didn’t get i was going out on the boat to fish when i told her i was going to the store is beyond me. Must be taken out of context.

  12. Lgbrandon, if the constitution was fine, it would not have needed and still need a voting rights amendment, come on people, please wake up, read a book and get off the internet, travel outside of your zip code, study ancient societies of what worked and what didn’t. Women right to vote, blacks, gay rights ect all changes, so no Brandon, its not fine, its a living document that needs updating as we the people press forward with this beautiful experiment. Mervin Jones Sfc USA retired.

  13. And yet, the current school board represents a 89% re-election rate — the citizens who keep re-electing the same monkeys over and over should expect the JoCo circus to keep rolling along!

  14. “Our citizens work hard for their money.” Kind of funny coming from someone that has filed bankruptcy multiple times so he could start over for new developments. He’s taking up all the agricultural by setting up cookie cutter homes that people end up having problems with. Give me a break Fred Smith.

    • What Joco needs is less big money, “spend til it’s gone and then spend some more”, big government Democrats and RINOs…especially RINOs.

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