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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A meeting between the New Hanover County Commission and School Board this morning was supposed to help get the two groups on the same page. While it may have helped bring them together as they work on funding for schools, it also showed a continuing division among commissioners.

“I’m willing to take the political risk of saying to the people of New Hanover County, ‘If you need to blame someone, don’t blame the county commissioners. Blame the school system, because we’re the ones asking for the money,'” School Board member Ed Higgins said as the two sides talked about money for education. “And if we’re asking for the money, we should be prepared to defend it.”

Higgings does not apologize for putting the needs of education above all else. He volunteered to be the scapegoat if the commission would raise taxes to fund education, but County Commissioner Ted Davis said absolutely not to the idea of raising taxes again.

Commission Chair Jonathan Barfield said he understands their needs, but the School Board is not the only entity asking the commission for money.

“The reality is you only have a finite supply of resources, finances, coming in, and you’ve got to best allocate those as you can,” Barfield said.

School Board member Elizabeth Redenbaugh said education should not be cut on anymore.

“Children, they are the future,” she said. “They are the future of our county. It impacts the economics for this county, not only now but for 10, 20, 30 years in the future.”

Besides the tension between commissioners and school board members, another elephant in the room was the absence of Commissioner Brian Berger.

Berger was criticized at Thursday’s agenda briefing for always being late. He claims the other commissioners have a gang mentality, but Barfield said Berger is just out there, while the rest of the them get along fine.

“It’s important that when you’re elected to serve in the role that we’re serving in and the level that we’re serving in, that you’re committed, number one, to your responsibilities, that you show up on time and that you educate yourself on the issues, so that when you speak, you can speak intelligently,” Barfield said.

We called Berger and tried to find him at his house, but no one answered.

Back at the meeting, most involved said despite previous problems, they were satisfied.

“I thought the county commissioners listened to the concerns of the school system, and expressed a willingness to go back and look at their budget and to see what they may be able to do to help us,” Higgins said.

The meeting ended with appreciation for what the County Commission has done, but School Board members say the children are still in dire need of more funding

As for Berger, his absence comes the morning after he was late to that agenda briefing, where he accused another commissioner of poking him during an argument. It’s the latest in a series of squabbles between Berger and his fellow commissioners

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2016 years 23 hours ago

About the meeting on Friday between the NHC Commissioners and the NHC Board of Education, it was reported yesterday’s edition (5-14-11) of the Star News that Board chairman Don Hayes, a republican, is calling for a tax increase on the residents of New Hanover County, WHAT!! This is just one reason why the BOE does NOT need taxing authority now or at anytime in the future….if they ever get it you’d better hold onto your wallets because it will be a long and expensive ride!!!

2016 years 23 hours ago

So this is your defense:

Our guy is bad, but the rest of the commissioners are terrible.


Our guy is bad, but he replaced a guy that was terrible.

Come on, this is the problem. If this guy is going to bring the much needed change, he needs to have his ducks in a row.

His ducks are all over the damn place.

And to those who think it’s unfair to see people ganging up and posting messages against Berger on this site, where were you when Thompson and Barfield were being dragged through the mud over the past few months on this site?

2016 years 23 hours ago

This rant must have been brought to you by “I didn’t read the article.”
Apparently you didn’t read the article, or the one before it. THIS article is not about his tardiness, it’s about him NOT fulfilling his commissioner obligations and attending this meeting. If it would have been a meeting about what types of paper to put in the copier or what types of pens to buy, that would be one thing. Berger 100% missed a meeting on education and didn’t get any of “the people he represents” ideas into the future of the children of the county HE… Read more »

2016 years 23 hours ago

Give me a break – this wall-to-wall Berger being late coverage is pathetic. Sure he needs to be on time – but you guys are making this like he committed some atrocious crime – how many more people are going to write some pseudo-witty comment about him being mentally challenged? He’s late to meetings so he’s mentally challenged? Give the guy a break – he took the place of Bill Caster who was a monument to the good ol boys way of doing things – Caster could always be counted on to support the status quo – Berger doesn’t fit… Read more »

2016 years 23 hours ago

First of all, education is very important and should be funded fully with what is NEEDED. My hat’s off to the Board & Commissioners in attendance for being civil and trying to work things out. The problem with education today is every kid has an excuse pre-made for them as to why they act the way the do or why they can’t perform to the level they are supposed to. Let’s get back to the old school teaching where when a kid screws up, they face their punishment. Many schools have students constantly breaking the rules and teachers not enforcing… Read more »

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