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BOLIVIA, NC (WWAY) — There’s still debate over Brunswick County Schools deciding to change school start times once again.

One school board member got a little heated about the decision to switch back to a traditional schedule at a recent meeting.

“I’m tired of hearing about the sleep studies,” School Board member Catherine Cooke said at a Parent Advisory Council meeting in Southport last week. “I’ll tell you that right now: If I hear about another sleep study, you don’t want to say that around me.”

Cooke has two children who attend Brunswick County schools, while another is home schooled and a fourth attends private school. She was one of the first people to bring up banning the book “The Color Purple” from classrooms.

Click here to hear the Cooke’s full rant

Last week Cooke was one of three Brunswick County School Board members to vote to switch schedules again this fall and return the district to traditional start times. A day later she went off during the PAC meeting.

“The people want traditional time. We’re going to do a traditional time,” she said.

But Cooke admits she and other board members did not fully understand the reversal would cost the school system more than $1.7 million in the first year alone and could cost 60 full time bus drivers their jobs.

“We did not have the full picture of what the ramifications were going to be for the bus drivers and for any other workers that were involved in the transportation,” Cooke said today.

But money was not the only target of her wrath. Cooke last week also fired off at parents complaining about dealing with changing schedules. She even took a shot at the district’s free lunch and breakfast program for needy kids.

“We’ve got free breakfast for everybody in the world,” she said. “Am I gonna be able to go to school and say, ‘Can I have free breakfast too?’ How many things… I mean are we just gonna give everybody everything? Why don’t we just let them sleep here at school, too? We can feed ’em, educate ’em, give ’em dinner, let them sleep here! Just live at the school!”

Tuesday Cooke tempered her perspective.

“If they qualify for it, that’s fine,” she said. “But it’s just gotten to be where we give everybody everything, and it’s everything on a silver platter.

Cooke says the school board does not know where it will get the money to pay for the extra transportation costs, but she says she has some ideas.

Comment on this Story

  • Guest000000

    Talk about hitting the nail right on the head. Bravo.

  • Marty Mentzer

    Dear Catherine,
    As you are my Christian sister, I am called to speak to you in love about these comments. The calling to be a teacher or school worker or school board member comes from God and with great responsibility. We are called to love all—even the least of these–these dear children. Let us remember this scripture: Matthew 35:34-40
    34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
    We are called to take care of our children who are hungry, all of them and who need food and drink and clothing and shelter. These children will not care how much we know (in teaching them) until they know we care about them and that is what teachers do every day!!

  • Stunned BCS teacher

    I heard about this newspaper article while working today, and this is the first chance I’ve had to read it. I’m completely stunned by the ignorant, hateful comments about the free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs at our schools. I work at one of the schools with one of the highest populations of students receiving these free and reduced meals. For most of these children it’s their only meals of the day. It’s an absolute disgrace that a school board member would speak of them and their families this way. And I can assure her, it’s not served on a silver platter. These children are overjoyed to get off the bus or dropped off by a parent and come to the lunch room and receive their breakfast in the morning, most of them very hungry. Which by the way, if they didn’t receive the breakfast, it would be virtually impossible for any meaningful learning to take place for them. You would think she’d be proud that we can help these families and children out, but instead has a complete lack of compassion like I’ve never seen. And the comment about feeding them dinner and letting them sleep at school, is so childish & flip, it’s truly shocking to know it came from a school board member. How do people like this end up making all the decisions for a school district?? I pray it’s a wake up call for the voters who, in the past, punched her name on the ballot. She clearly has a large disdain for public education and the people who come with it. Shocking to read.

  • ohreally????

    So BC Parent, what you’re really trying to say is Catherine Cooke’s Alias is Guest2020??

  • BC Parent

    For those of you who are misinformed, including the reporter, Mrs. Cooke has four children. Her oldest child graduated from Brunswick County Early College High School and just completed her third year of college. Her second child will graduate for the Early College High School this week, and her third child is a student at West Brunswick High School. Her youngest child attended Brunswick County Schools for elementary school and part of middle school. She is now being homeschooled because they feel it is best for her. As we all should know, all children do not learn the same and do not flourish in the same environment. How can you condemn her for doing what she feels is right for her child?

  • Taxpayer$$$

    “But cooke [sic] admits she and other board members did not fully understand the reversal would cost the school system more than $1.7 million in the first year alone and could cost 60 full time bus drivers their jobs.

    “We did not have the full picture of what the ramifications were going to be for the bus drivers and for any other workers that were involved in the transportation,” Cooke said today.”

    Great job in making informed decisions about our children!

    Optical Rectitis on display.

    Res ipsa loquitur

  • Greg Dail

    “Rant” …or “impassioned speech”, “courageous stand against entrenched special interests” or perhaps “speaking truth to power”? I guess it depends on what YOUR particular point of view happens to be.
    Nice piece of journalism, or as I would say “hatchet job”.

  • taxpayer

    “The money doesn’t come from her pocket.”

    And where, exactly, do you think the money used to pay for free breakfasts comes from…a money tree? Taxpayers are picking up the tab.

  • Candace

    This lady needs help…at this point its not completely about the sleep schedule, but also the school system and bus drivers. This lady sounds like she doesnt care about the many bus drivers losing pay and benefits, the millions of dollars that will come from who knows where when we are already 48th out of 50 when it comes to teachers pay. Teachers need supplies also so what will they do cut those out to pay for this? The bottom line is this is going to cost some serious money and cost more than needed.

    As for some other things she attacked free school lunches when for some children thats the only meal they get because their families cant afford anything more.

    “We did not have the full picture of what the ramifications were going to be for the bus drivers and for any other workers that were involved in the transportation,” Cooke said today. Right well this lady sounds like she DOESNT CARE about the bus drivers losing their benefits (my mother being one, shes worked for the school system as a bus driver for 25 years), and their jobs are going from full to part time. Some of the employees do have families they need to care for. But as I said before this lady sounds like she doesnt care about the big picture.

  • LelandGal

    Going to love going back to the regular schedule. We need to do away with free Breakfast for everyone also… Parents need to either feed their child at home or pay for it at school. We need to go back to starting on Tuesday after Labor Day and getting out on Friday before Memorial Day. Too many Teacher’s work days. It they need training let then do some in the summer where they can get it all in a week…. We need to go back to BASIC…..And it is a shame that the Tax didn’t pass on Election day… Too many people didn’t know or understand about it.It was not talked about enough. Thank you TV 3

  • Guest012345

    I mean really, does this sound like a person that you want to make decisions for you child? She criticized the school system for giving the children free breakfast. The money doesn’t come from her pocket. Although when school goes back to standard bell at least she will still have a roof over her head and food on her table and a way to pay her bills. She not going liking for nothing. Unfortunately, there will be 67 school bus drivers that will have lost their full time jobs, their health benefits, their retirement and their life insurance because of people like her. It is not like the money that was paying the drivers and paying the transportation department was coming from her pocket. It is coming from the State of North Carolina. Not the county school system and not the Brunswick Tax payers either. Like I said, it was coming from the State of NC, because the transportation department was 100 percent efficient. North Carolina took care of their people. The money that would have paid these people in standard school was being used to help pay for new teachers that were needed and other items that were needed. Catherine Cooke doesn’t care about our children! Read the statement she made concerning tomorrow’s future!
    “We’ve got free breakfast for everybody in the world,” she said. “Am I gonna be able to go to school and say, ‘Can I have free breakfast too?’ How many things… I mean are we just gonna give everybody everything? Why don’t we just let them sleep here at school, too? We can feed ’em, educate ’em, give ’em dinner, let them sleep here! Just live at the school!” That my friends was a slur to the people and the children of Brunswick County! Get her of the Board of Education. Find people for the board that really care for our children and our future of tomorrow!

  • SuZEN

    First she renounces the Color Purple based on religious values…then she questions a program that provides children, many of whom are so hungry that they can’t concentrate on schoolwork, with breakfast? Talk about hypocrisy.

  • burgerboy

    I like that old cook lady we need more folks like her on that school board, i say fudge the colour purple and keep the old timey schedule, it was good enough for ppl back in the olden days of yesteryoure and it’s good enough for these young PUNKS going to school now!!!! and they need to take that colored purple down to the DUMP and throw it out with the GARBEGE cause it’s a BAG O’ TRASH!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Concerned Citizen

    Even though she may have four children her words speak volumes. She of course loves her children and wants the best for them (any mother would), but as a Board Member she was chosen to be an advocate for ALL Brunswick County children. She is blessed with the ability to be able to provide fully for her children by them receiving an advanced education and going to college, but there are so many more that don’t have that luxury. Her job is to find avenues for our future leaders (students) to be successful and that unfortunately is obviously NOT her mindset.

  • Concerned Citizen

    This is a PRIME example of why our school children in Brunswick County are under preforming academically and emotionally. It is also an indication as to how there is no support for employees within the County. Their well being is disregarded and disrespected within numerous areas. How dare the school board not have ALL information but still choose to make an extremely pivotal decision!

    Direct quote from Mrs. Catherine Cook: “We did not have the full picture of what the ramifications were gonna be for the uh you know,for the bus drivers and any other workers that were involved with the transportation.”

    This makes ABSOLUTELY NO LOGICAL SENSE. The concern also lies in the fact that none of the board members asked these important questions that will significantly impact the lives of about 60 full time bus drivers among the many other unkown “ramifications” that will be affected due to the additional 1.7 million dollars that will now magically be pulled from a hat!This truly disgusts me and is so disheartening for all the numerous employees and students that will be affected. Those board members that voted for this change should be ashamed of themselves. They have made blind decisions that are a hindrance to the progression of our County’s school system.

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