Tate, supporters voice concerns with Pender Co. Schools leadership

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Submitted: Tue, 03/18/2014 - 3:23am
Updated: Tue, 03/18/2014 - 12:35pm

BURGAW, NC (WWAY) — A Pender County commissioner is at odds with the superintendent of schools, and it appears he’s not alone in his fight.

“I can’t speak for the entire board when I say everything that I say but I think the commissioners would agree with me on this, anyone who knows Jimmy Tate would agree with me on this, education is his passion,” said Pender County Commissioner George Brown.

It was the passion for education that lead Pender County Commissioner Jimmy Tate to request a special meeting with Pender County Superintendent Dr. Terri Cobb three weeks ago to discuss teacher pay, retention, and how to make students career and college ready. He says he has still received no response.

“I was fully prepared to consider resigning from the county commission and priority one because of the level of disrespect that I believe that I have been shown in this process,” said Pender County Commissioner Jimmy Tate.

That’s before a standing room only crowd packed into the Pender County Commission chambers and dozens of supporters spoke out on Tate’s behalf.

“He is really concerned about it, and it’s not just one thing and only his idea,” said Pattye Ebert. “It’s what he thinks, and he sees, and hears that’s good for the people of Pender County.”

Tate says this is a battle he never thought he would have to fight, but he will continue because he made a promise to his constituents.

“There’s a lot of tension and I have lost many hours of sleep over this issue and physically and mentally it has really affected me, but I’m still willing to communicate,” said Tate. “I think that as public officials we have to put our differences aside, and if it’s really about the children she will call me tomorrow, and we will have a meeting. I’m willing to do that.”

WWAY tried to reach out to Dr. Cobb to get her side of the story, but we have yet to receive a response.


  • SurfCityTom says:

    is it not the job of the members of the Board of Education to raise such questions and have the meeting with the Superintendent?

    If the County Commission has an issue or concern, it would seem the proper action would be to take those concerns to the Board of Education. After all, overseeing the quality of education is what they are elected to do.

    As another poster noted, where is the funding to come from to allow these salary increases?

    Every county in the state is facing the same challenge.

    How challenging would the statewide solution be if the state was not sending $147 MILLION to DC, annually, to repay all of the borrowing which the former 2 Governors approved to keep give away programs like Medicaid afloat.

    Well, now the bills are due.

    Mr. Tate, use your crystal ball and magic wand to create that extra money. Heck, yesterday was St. Paddy’s Day, you could have been out looking for leprechauns and a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

    Better yet, take a course or 2 in basic business math and fiscal responsibility.

  • Concerned for Pender County Schools says:

    Mr. Tate, Thank you for having the courage to request answers regarding the school system’s current practices and leadership. Your experience of unkept promises, disrespect, and lack of communication is unfortunately what the school staff have been experiencing since Dr.Cobb became superintendent. It is this type of leadership that has caused many excellent directors, administrators, teachers, and staff to reluctantly leave Pender County Schools after many years of dedicated service to the youth and community. It is also what will cause many more to leave as soon as other opportunities become available to them. My heart aches for the students in Pender County who will ultimately be the victims in this situation.

  • Timmy says:

    Don’t worry, once they get rid of Dr. Cobb, they can hire her mentor Del Burns in as an interim. He lives in pender county, probably got her the job in the first place.

  • Joe Educator says:

    As an employee of PCS, this is how Dr. Cobb operates. She uses her authority and power to squash, intimidate, and influence her agenda, which isn’t best for the students or employees of Pender County. At issue is the reluctance of the School Board to call her out… quite the opposite in fact. With Karen Rouse as her right hand sphere of influence, which isn’t educationally based either, poor decisions are being made.

    One would only need to look at the migration of leadership of central office, and school level administrators. Her treatment of last years Principals was abysmal. A hand-written survey, which couldn’t be shared with media was given, in which plenty of Principals spoke their minds, and paid the price.

    Treatment of central office staff was terrible, instructing the professionals not to eat together. She also thought her office was bugged. People who work in the office, do so in fear.

    I agree: look at the people she’s brought in. Apparently Wilson County has the edge of education, as the majority of her people seem to come from there. Additionally, there’s a discrepancy of pay between folks she’s brought in, and the administrators currently on board. When we have our Principals of the year, making less than the folks she’s brought in, there’s an issue.

    What a contradiction she is. At her initial meeting of staff, she said how family oriented she is. She’s done little to show that side, in fact, causing many families who worked for PCS for uproot and leave.

    Pender County was known for it’s personal touch, and caring attitude, while still maintaining high scores, and expectations. Apparently, the first two have gone by the wayside.

    My question would be, why have the elected Board members continuously backed her less than student and employee friendly decisions? I say send them all out.

  • Smokey says:

    Where there’s smoke there’s a fire.

    Several of the comments from above concerning the state of Pender County Schools and the leadership of one Dr. Cobb are not made up. No one has an axe to grind against her, the Board of Education, or the people that she has put into place. It’s simply a case of look at where Pender County Schools has been, and where they are now. There’s no sense of relationship and community since Dr. Cobb took over the helm. She even went so far as to tell one school, when they noted that morale was poor, “improving morale is not my job.” Really? This is NOT the kind of person we want leading McDonald’s, much less a school system that at one time was the best in Southeastern NC, despite working with less dollars per pupil. For whatever reason, the Board of Education seems to be in a fog when it comes to Dr. Cobb and her “leadership and direction” of the school system.

    As one commenter noted there have been a lot of people that have left the county, and many more would already be gone if an opportunity were there. These people were not looking for another county to go to; in fact, many of them were lifers in this county, having been here 15 or 20 years and giving their blood, sweat and tears to the children and families of the Pender County communities. Yet to hear the current administration of Pender County spin it, these people either needed to go, were bad for the county, or pursued the job of their dreams. Wrong, wrong, and umm, yep, wrong. People leave jobs because of poor leadership, and in this case, all fingers point to Dr. Cobb.

    I urge the media, county commissioners, Board of Education, parents, and Pender County communities to truly dig deeper and find out for yourselves what is happening in the school system. I can promise you, where there’s smoke there’s a fire, and there’s a fire raging out of control right now for Pender County Schools.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    where is the money to come from?

    Cut Section 8 housing?

    Cut Food Stamps?

    Cut Medicaid spending?

    I know, raise property taxes on all of the hard working property owners in Pender County.

    Every segment of Pender County employees no doubt need a raise. The teachers are no better than they.

    So just say, where is the money coming from.

    Better yet, run for public office; lay out your plan; see how the public respondes.

  • Smokey says:

    Dear Citizen of Pender,
    It is the administrators and teachers of Pender County that need the raise, not Dr. Cobb. Why do they need the raise? Because for the past several years they’ve had to deal with her, the people that she has brought in from other counties and paid excessively, and watched and felt her tear down the school system many of them worked hard to build. She has NO clue what she’s doing and she’s done way more harm than good. If what you say is true and several of the commissioners and school board members meet on a regular basis, then maybe they should begin talking as to why people leave the county, why morale is the worst it’s been since Dr. Ted Kaniuka, and why there have been people such as myself, Jimmy Tate, and others speaking out on this message board. The next superintendent is the one who needs a raise also, because he or she will have a HUGE job to do by fixing the mess Cobb has made.

  • Guest19620111 says:

    George Brown and Jimmy Tate what a couple of clowns, just because they are County Commissioners of one of the most dysfunctional boards in the state of North Carolina everyone should drop and bow when they walk by. Jimmy Tate is nothing more than a Jessie Jackson want be, and George Brown the clown needs the vote he hopes Jimmy can bring. I suggest the commissioners clean up their own house before looking at cleaning others, lets open the books to the county funds and take a look at some of there spending habits, what county in their right mind makes the assistant county manager and the head finance officer one in the same. George Brown the clown has already screwed up the health dept., and the dept. of Social Services he is now aligning with Jimmy Tate to try and win those votes back. Jimmy Tate please do the county a favor and make good on your repeated threats to step aside. You have stepped aside so much they have a line dance named after you!! No wonder so many DWI if I had to work with these 2 I would drink also.

  • Guest270 says:

    I for one am disappointed in the conduct of Dr. Cobb. Making time for ordinary residents of the county is one thing and I’m sure she’s busy. On the other hand she should always make time for a commissioner as they are a representative of the people of the county. I’ll stop short of calling it disrespect but it is unprofessional.

    I believe that this is a side effect of hiring people at the level of management such as superintendent from outside of our area. The challenges that our students and teachers face are much different than the challenges faced by students and teachers in more urban and developed areas.Perhaps the school board should take this more into account the next time they hire a new superintendent.

    Dr. Cobb was hired in from Wake county, arguably one of the best educated areas in our state. Her perspective of the people of the county and the students may be biased. By meeting with Mr. Tate perhaps she will gain a new perspective on the people of Pender County. One can only hope.

  • guest74 says:

    She’s getting $135,000 a year!! I would think she would have the resources to schedule a meeting! Someone in her position should always be willing to listen to ideas of improvement, especially from a county commissioner

  • Citizen of Pender says:

    Only $135,000 – well she needs a raise! Especially if she has to put up with stuff like this. It is ridiculous that this has even made the news. There is much more important stuff going on in our world than if Jimmy Tate got an appointment with the School Superintendent in the time frame he wanted or not. Get real people, do you not know that several of the school board members and commissioners meet on a regular basis with a NEED list that never gets filled. What was Jimmy trying to do, meet behind his fellow board members and school board members back? Maybe the school board needs to start meeting with the county manager instead of the commissioners, on a one-on-one meeting of course. I’m sure he has time for it. Get real Jimmy and stop trying to stir the pot – you too George Brown.

  • Guest007 says:

    It’s about time someone has stepped up and brought this issue to the forefront. I know someone that works in PCS and the employees are living in fear. Everyone is afraid to talk for fear of retaliation by the superintendent, and in these days……no one is willing to lose their job. They have worked there for several years and have worked under 3 different superintendents. They have been unhappy for the last 2 years under this superintendent and they are looking to leave the county, as many others have already done. There was a mass exit from PCS at the end of last school year and if jobs open up, there will be another mass exit at the end of this school year…or sooner. Just ask Brunswick and New Hanover county where they have recently hired employees from……another reason that people are leaving is because of the inequitable pay for various positions. The newly hired administrators came in making top dollar when administrators in the county who had contract renewals are still being paid the same (no increase). (These salaries can be found online and anyone can see the discrepancies) It is time for the PCS Board to open their eyes and talk/listen to their employees or they will find their school system turned upside down!!! That is NOT what’s best for students!!

  • Guest987654321 says:

    The only joke here is the PCS administration and superintendent. Thank you to Jimmy Tate for standing up for the children, teachers, and citizens of Pender County and seeing Dr. Cobb for the person she is. Don’t believe me, click on the link below and read the comments. Also, check the StarNews online database and see how bloated the salaries are of the people she hired as elementary/middle schools principals compared to already established principals

    Talk about a joke…PCS is the only district that took away Spring Break as make up days and requiring students to go to school on a Saturday. Many families have planned trips during this time. Now families have to sacrifice valuable time together to send students to school. To make matters worse, the make up days are half days…for students. The district did not ask for community feedback on make-up days and made the decision on a 3-2 split vote on a Friday evening meeting that was not very well publicized. Furthermore, why was PCS consistently the VERY last district to announce closings or delays. Even announcing a delay on the 11:00 news and making an all call at 5:30 am, giving parents no time to adjust their schedules. My teacher friends say morale is at an all time low in the district and it will continue to be low until a change is made. Good teachers are leaving. They also told me that Trask HS has lost 5 teachers since school started. Thats with a new principal. Something has to change or PCS will continue its slow decline. Continue the good work Mr. Tate, don’t stop.

    Read the first comment….


  • Angela Perry says:

    Just want to let Mr. Tate know he should not feel special! I have emailed Dr. Cobb several times on different issues, and have yet to receive a response to any email!

  • jj says:

    Hey Jimmy, open up your wallet and put your money where your big mouth is. I am sure Dr. Cobb would love to up the teachers pay. However, unless you are willing raise taxes and open the wallets what is Dr. Cobb to do?

    Why waste Dr. Cobb and your time when you both know there is nothing more of a waste of time than a meeting that will produce no out put.

    You most be running for re-election and need to beat your chest.

  • 1122112 says:

    Well written Mr. Tate. I am shocked!

  • guest1962114 says:

    It appears that Mr. Paul Clark of Pender Utility Partners LLC, has a different look on how great Mr. Tate returns calls, after watching the Monday March 17th meeting on line Mr. Clark states that Mr. Ward was the only board member to return his call after repeated attempts to the other board member. I assume Mr. Tate was to busy worrying his self over other peoples business to conduct the business of the county, and Mr. McCoy who know what he was doing you wouldn’t have been able to understand it anyways, and Mr. Brown I am sure was some where screwing up another County Department or County appointed board. Mr. Clark did say he didn’t call Mr. Williams because he knew he was already in bed with a the big Developer in Scotts Hill. I suggest anyone that needs a good laugh or really needs to understand why Pender County is dragging behind the others in our area to go online and view this comedy.


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