by Sam Hieb
Seems like media coverage of Guilford County’s effort to become a Say Yes to Education community has been favorable—understandable considering the goal of $28 million in private donations appears to be within reach.
However the bigger question is what is government’s role should Guilford become a ‘Say Yes’ community, given that local governments —Greensboro City Council, Board of Education, Board of Commissioners and High Point City Council are all being asked to sign off on a memorandum of understanding?
Leave it to the HP council to ask the hard questions:
At a High Point City Council manager’s briefing Monday, Guilford County Schools and Say Yes to Education Inc., asked the City Council for a quick vote on a memorandum committing High Point to the Say Yes program – only to be slapped down by City Attorney Joanne Carlyle, who said High Point hadn’t received the final version.
Carlyle said that the most recent version of the memorandum of understanding the city received was months old and marked “draft.”
Despite requests from some councilmembers, Carlyle declined to give a legal opinion on a memorandum she hadn’t read.
Guilford County School Superintendent Mo Green said, “I don’t know what the breakdown was.”
Green handed out copies of what he said was the final version of the memorandum. He said changes had been made since the draft, including the addition of language clarifying that each board retains its own funding authority – something that is already determined by state law.
Council member Jim Davis honed in on the memorandum’s request for “health, mental health and legal services,” ostensibly for students who benefit from Say Yes funds. While the county might already provide those services—as fellow council member Latimer Alexander pointed out —- the city does not. Question is if the city signs off on the memorandum of understanding, would they then be required to begin providing those services?
But the bottom is the council was being pressured into signing an agreement that apparently hasn’t been finalized. Props to Alexander for pointing out that GCS —namely Green and Say Yes to Education Chief Operating Officer Gene Chasin —-“needs to own some poor planning from a time-management perspective… because we did not create this urgency.”