†Whatís really going on with this New School trainwreck? | Eastern North Carolina Now

This project, if it proceeds as planned, will be another boondoggle of school construction by the Beaufort County Commissioners


By Hood Richardson

New York City and Washington DC do not have a monopoly on corrupt government.  Beaufort County is a strong competitor. Corruption in any government includes, but is not limited to, someone handing a government official a sack of money for a favor.  Today corruption includes the seizing or usurping of government powers.  This includes public officials, both elected and hired, not following proper procedures and the prescribed law.  This sometimes is broadly called, administrative corruption.  This kind of corruption thrives when elected officials lay down on their job and allow staff to run things, or a few elected officials seize control of a situation and make decisions in the back room or the majority of a Board (School Board and County Commissioners) lay down on their job by quietly without a vote in an open meeting allow other officials to make decisions that they rubber stamp.

School Boards are elected to hire and supervise the Superintendent, set the broad policy of running the school system, and insure the quality of education, etc.  Boards of County Commissioners do much the same thing on a county level.  Commissioners collect taxes, set policy, and provide oversight for all County moneys, etc.  It is a bit more complicated than this, but these Boards are the ultimate authority on the county level. Some people, even those serving on these Boards, spend a lot of effort to make the public believe they have no authority.  They run from their responsibility. However, when trouble comes, the lawsuits land on these two Boards.

We have a corrupt situation involving the 52-million-dollar school proposed to be constructed on the Eastern Elementary School Campus.  Three government officials have seized control and are making all the decisions about the new school.  They are: T.W. Allen Chairman of the School Board, Fake Frankie Waters, Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, and Matthew Cheeseman, Superintendent of Beaufort County Schools known as the Gang of Three.  The majority of the School Board and Board of County Commissioners are providing their approval to the Gang of Three, in reality by simply not being involved in exercising their responsibilities.

There have been no studies either within the School System or the Board of Commissioners or from outside consultants to determine the needs of the facilities needs of the School System.  There was simply an announcement by Superintendent Cheeseman that we are tearing down Eastern Elementary, abandoning John Cotton Tayloe and building one school for 900 preschool thru third grade students on the Easter site.  There has not been a study looking at alternatives such as how the Bath or Chocowinity Schools are affected, as neighboring attendance areas.  Nine hundred students is a 20 percent over-build in a county with zero population growth and actually a declining population in our schools.  Looks like Cheeseman pulled this number out of the air.

Also not considered by anyone is the extremely poor-quality education produced by our public schools.  In particular, school consolidation on the average across the United States is a failure.  Large schools with hundreds of students have produced a poorer education for all.  The trend is toward smaller neighborhood schools which invite more parental involvement, better discipline and orderly class rooms. Beaufort County consolidated schools have several low performance schools. There is a steady growth in all alternative forms education (private schools, home schooling, etc), other than traditional public schools.  Considering our low performance schools, the public should be heavily involved in the long term future of our failing school system.

The Gang of Three is doing great harm to the future of Beaufort County by failing to improve the quality of our public schools..

I, supported by Commissioner Stan Deatherage, have requested during the past 3 months information necessary to ensure that the new school construction comes in under budget.  A budget presented almost one year ago has a contingency of $900,000 for a 52-million-dollar job.  This is unacceptable in this inflationary environment.  In a stable economic environment, the contingency should be a minimum of 5 percent. Information presented during the recent Beaufort County budget hearings called for 25 per cent escalators plus a minimum 5 percent contingency.   Many other costs are not addressed in the proposed budget.

I made a motion at the May 6, Commissioners meeting as follows:  “Commissioner Richardson motioned that the County Commissioners resolve the maximum expense for the building of the new school, including all demolition, infrastructure, et cetera be held to $52 million and that the school board, the school superintendent, make a presentation at the next Commissioners meeting bringing us up to date on the status of the various parts of the project.”  Commissioner Deatherage seconded.

The motion failed by a 4 to 3 vote.  Commissioners Waters, Langley, Booth and Walker voted against.

This resolution was easy for any responsible public official to vote for.  Fake Frankie Waters has already sold out the commissioners when he secretly met with Cheeseman and T. W. Allen, out of the County, and volunteered to serve on the construction review committee.  By doing this he cut off the rest of the Board of Commissioners’ participation in the project.  Ed Booth and Randy Walker’s wives are on the School Board.  Booth and Walker have never voted against their wives. There is no law against this kind of husband-and-wife collusion.  But, it is highly unethical.  Langley seems to always support Booth.  Remember when Booth supported Langley to spend 1.6 million dollars for a set of jail plans for a new jail to be built at Chocowinity that was never built. Another 1.6 million dollars down the rat hole.

This new school will perpetuate the terribly inefficient busing we now have in the Washington Attendance Area where our youngest children are bused from one side of town across town to the other side, when better planning would produce more compact attendance areas and reduce busing.  Done correctly, a new school west of Washington could help reduce busing and stem the tide of declining enrollment by attracting growth from Pitt County.  Declining enrollment in the school system is the most serious problem we face.  This is true because the loss of each student results in a reduction in revenue, mostly from the state, that greatly exceeds the reduction in costs of educating those students.  Declining enrollment results in a decline across the entire system.

Moreover, the Gang of Three, without any authority from their respective boards, has apparently decided to tear down the existing Eastern Elementary facility and replace it with a new school.  They have decided this without any semblance of an analysis of the engineering deficiencies of the existing Eastern School facility, much less what the costs would be to renovate that facility to bring it up to current state standards.  They have offered no rationale for replacement rather than renovation.  More importantly, this decision has been made without any consideration for the needs of other schools in the county, some of which are greater than Eastern’s.

I was promised, in an open construction review committee meeting by the Gang of Three, that representatives of the School Board would provide the information I requested at the June 3rd Commissioners meeting.  No members of the School Board or their representatives showed up at the Commissioners meeting on June 3rd.  The Gang Three told an open bald face lie when they promised to inform the Commissioners at the June 3rd meeting.  Randy Walker took pains to say this is a “Christian School Board.”  Christians do not lie.  

Taxpayers should be alarmed when public officials lie for no apparent gain other than to assert their dictatorial control.  Washington DC and New York do not have a monopoly on corrupt government.

The new school’s budget and design is in the hands of the Gang of Three, Matthew Cheeseman, Fake Frankie Waters, and T. W. Allen.  The taxpaying public has no cost control protection.  The Gang of Three will present their budget to comply with the terms of the creation of a Capital Project Ordinance and Commissioners Booth, Langley, Walker and Waters will rubber stamp it. Considering the qualifications of Randy Walker, Fake Frankie Waters, Jerry Langley and Ed Booth and their wives, there will certainly be cost over runs.  There is no one looking after the interest of the tax-paying public nor ultimately what is best for young children.

Randy Walker and Jerry Langley are up for election this fall.  It would appear this project in being rushed to get it far enough along by November that it is a done deal. This entire project should be put on hold until after the election in November to allow the voters to decide this issue.


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( June 8th, 2024 @ 11:23 am )
Steed, I agree with you in your statement that the school building situation is a distraction from other matters that people within the County may not be aware of.

This may be a "city" matter but I feel the County should weigh in on the business of our downtown district turning into a "black-centric" (words of an official who shall remain nameless) little Switzerland.

Rumour has it that the City is pushing for a "cityscape" that would encourage what THEY classify as "minimal traffic in the downtown area". It sounds as if they are trying to mirror what the City of Greenville and the Pitt County Commissioners are doing....which could prove to be very costly to Beaufort County taxpayers as well as a political nightmare for those involved.

The Summer Festival has been a test run for their proposed downtown trolley service (a service that we would ultimately pay for), so I hear. As Mr. Jerry McRoy has written, I'd be very cautious about following Pitt County's lead. Things are wonky
( June 8th, 2024 @ 9:40 am )
PJJ, I think this new school boondoggle may be a "bright and shiny object" to try to distract from the school system's huge failures in educating our children as shown by so many low scores by Beaufort County schools, and particularly in Washington on the state standardized tests. That has nothing to do with buildings and everything to do with a subpar curriculum. The school board members up this year are nothing but rubberstamps for our liberal superintendant. The tail is wagging the dog, and that is where the problem lies.

It is very noticable that local young people working as cashiers have a hard time making change correctly. Their math skills have been degraded by Common Core math, yet Cheeseman's appointees proposed, and his school board sock puppets rubberstamped a woke new math curriculum last year based on, you guessed it, Common Core. One of his top staff even tried to lie to the new conservative school board minority to say that the curriculum was not Common Core, but confronted with the evidence had to backtrack and admit that it was. The rubberstamp school board majority approved it anyway.

Another example is cursive writing which state law requires schools to teach but it is a hit and miss proposition here in Beaufort County. I have talked to a number of parents who complain that their children have not been taught cursive. One mentioned going to a restaurant out of town where the menu was in cursive, and his children who had gone to Beaufort County Schools could not read it. It might as well have been written in Greek.

Beaufort County Schools are failing our students in curriculum, NOT in buildings.
PJJ said:
( June 7th, 2024 @ 8:17 pm )
A new school isnít going to fix the disappointing results from WPS With a declining population why build some giant monstrosity - scale it back and use the money to improve performance in all the city schools. Itís frankly embarrassing- people complain about Washington being over run with retirees when the fact of the matter is - who would move here with school age children. Seems like they like new shiny onjectsbwirh big price tags instead of student performance.
Big Bob said:
( June 6th, 2024 @ 2:32 pm )
Um...no police report means the students were likely white.
( June 6th, 2024 @ 1:08 pm )
Sounds like another Cheeseman cover up, there, Washingtonian. Good catch. I would not be surprised that the Washington Daily News failed to mention this vandalism. The real question is, who will pay for it? The school superintendant is screwing the taxpayers by failing to file a police report and press charges. Those involved could be forced to pay restitution that way, and it would be a deterant to things like this happening in the future. What sort of deterant is the slap on the wrist of missing graduation? We have a liberal wussy as our superintendant. The school board needs to demand a full public report on this vandalism.
( June 6th, 2024 @ 12:34 pm )
1/4 of WHSís graduating class wont walk across this stage this week aftr officials banned them from graduation ovr participatin n a "SeniorPrank" May29.

Puishment is 47 seniors getting their highschool diplomas in mail instead on th stage. Beaufort Co School reps declined an interview but told us in email th prank damaged school property.They sd they are still calculating the cost of th damage.

School officials sd they witnessed flipped cafeteria tables. Toilet paper thrown in cafeteria, writing on walls,& eggs were thrown on trophies causin damage 2awards students worked hard 2achieve. Students entered building w a key.

They decided not 2file a police report, but they did punish all who sd were involved.

We r still waitin 2hear back from BOE officials 2 learn:
How each student was involved.
The costs of damages.
Why decision made2 impose same punishment on all students.
Were student roles n prank considered?
What were factors leadin 2decision.
R appeals permitted?
( June 6th, 2024 @ 10:30 am )
The issue of large consolidated schools versus neighborhood schools has always been an issue that separates conservatives from liberals. Conservatives support neighborhood schools and that is particularly true for elementary school.

School superintendants career paths are to build their resumes to try to move up to larger and better paying school districts, and they look for things that will please the liberal education establishment as the larger districts are more likely to be run by liberals. This huge consolidated elementary school was just what Cheeseman's resume needed for his own career advancement.

We cannot overlook the role of liberal "Republican" state Superintendant Catherine Truitt in this boondoggle. She helped steer this money to big consolidated schools instead of neighborhood schools. It is good that she got bounced in the GOP primary by conservative Michelle Morrow, who will follow a conservative and Republican path in that position. Truitt's attempts to buy votes with these last minute grants just before the election did not work. Beaufort County and others that got her consolidation focused grants helped vote her out of office.

To really fix education in Beaufort County, we need to take Cheeseman's rubber stamps off of our local school board. T.W. Allen, Mack Hodges, and Eltha Booth all need to be replaced by people who will represent the citizens and taxpayers instead of being sock puppets for our liberal superintendant.
Big Bob said:
( June 6th, 2024 @ 9:40 am )
Just offing some constructive criticism in a nonjudgemental post. Take it or leave it.
( June 5th, 2024 @ 5:01 pm )
Bib Bob, The truth cuts to deep for some people to handle.
Big Bob said:
( June 5th, 2024 @ 12:04 pm )
HR we can disagree on anything and everything. No problem.
However when you add insult after insult along with whatever it is we disagree about, eventually I stop listening. I think that's what has happened to you.

Not all your ideas are bad, but good lord, people just stop listening. Life is short. It's just not worth putting up with it.
( June 5th, 2024 @ 10:50 am )
Big Bob. I treat people like crap when they treat me like crap. Elitists like you think us commoners are honor bound to believe any lie handed to us. When anyone has the courage to disagree he is considered a bad person. To disagree is a sin in the liberal community. That is why liberals get along so well with each other. Swearing to each other lies. How is that working out for you.
Big Bob said:
( June 5th, 2024 @ 8:59 am )
Translation - it's not corruption, it's nobody likes me and wont vote for my proposals. Generally speaking, when you treat people like crap, they don't do what you want.
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