To the editor:
This letter is in reference to the current Person County Schools Superintendent’s recent comments in the budget cuts article. In this article, the superintendent refers first to charter school funding as related to cutting the workforce. If you do your research, both charter schools reached their capacity and have varied little in enrollment in the years before the current superintendent ever arrived here. Prior superintendents have been able to manage their budgets without any significant, widespread layoffs. What the current superintendent failed to mention were his own budget decisions in the last two years in programming and hiring that were not sustainable. While overall enrolling students in our county may have declined, this gradual decline and no significant increase in charter school enrollments certainly does not equate to 31 positions from one year to the next.
Forming and managing a large budget is a challenging job. All schools do need more funding. While the superintendent has the right to make and approve program, facility improvements and personnel decisions he sees fit, he should step forward and accept the responsibility for the non-sustainable budget decisions he made over the last two years that now require budget cuts. Accepting responsibility for our own decisions without blaming others is a Person County value that we try to instill in our children. All leadership here should model the same.
Being a retired Person County Schools principal and being an almost retired charter school principal, I would like to share a future vision for everyone that lives and works in Person County and for county government leadership. First, it is time to all support all Person County children, no matter where they go to school. We should be happy for the other schools when their students do well and accomplish their goals. We should support each other in a positive way. If all children in Person County are the most important thing to us, our hearts and words should have no animosity for any other school, traditional public, public charter, private or otherwise who are trying to help our Person County children to be successful and learn. Second, we should begin to nurture and train our future leadership from within Person County. We have lots of leadership talent here. There is no one who could have more commitment and dedication for the long term welfare of Person County than one who came from here and is committed to remain here. They would have that commitment to Person County and the people living here, rather than a professional accomplishment to put on a resume for the next job elsewhere. Make a plan to identify and train at least most of our future Person County leaders from within Person County. If we all work together, we will accomplish more and make better decisions for our county. I love Person County and I want to see all children, schools and government leadership be successful in promoting all aspects of life here.
Stephen L. Hester