More Beaufort County School Board Back Room Deals | Eastern North Carolina Now

If you want to show how NOT to build a school there is no better example than this new Eastern Elementary School being planned in secret.



More Beaufort County School Board Back Room Deals

By:  Hood Richardson

Not all corruption is in places like New York and Washington, DC. We have and abundance of secret and usurped (stolen) government in Beaufort County. The Beaufort County School and Commissioners Boards have given authority to the so-called Progress Monitoring Committee to make all decisions about the spending of the 42 million dollar grant from the North Carolina Lottery and the 10 million dollar gift from the Beaufort County taxpayers (total 52 million dollars).

This was not done by a vote of either board, a mutual agreement or even having the subject appear on the consent agenda of either Board.  It started over a year ago when pertinent information and negotiations about a grant to build a new school was withheld from both Boards.  Fake Frankie Waters, Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners and Matthew Cheeseman, Superintendent of the School Board lobbied and obtained the grant without properly or completely notifying their respective Boards.  They decided to  build a new school on the Eastern Elementary Campus to replace the John Cotton Tayloe and Eastern Elementary Schools.

All of this was done based on their personal opinions.  There have been no demographic studies about these school attendance areas, examination of alternatives, or consideration of other attendance areas presented to the public, the School Board or the County Commissioners. It is all about what Waters, Cheeseman and the Chairman of the School Board, T. W. Allen think is good for us.  Allen is a big player because he is chairman of the so-called School Construction Oversight Committee.  If Allen would simply refuse to serve this scheme would fall apart because both Boards would be forced to take action.  Cheeseman sits beside Allen at most meetings and whispers instructions.  Cheeseman as an employee of the School Board should not sit with the Board.  He should be seated in such a way that he would not look like an elected official.  

As nearly as I can determine the so-called Progress Monitoring Committee was formed during a meeting that violated the open meetings laws when Fake Frankie Waters met with Cheeseman, and Allen in Greenville during the first quarter of 2024.  This meeting is a violation the open meetings laws because; it was not advertised to the public or the press, it was held outside Beaufort County without proper advertising to the public and the press, and decisions regarding the “Progress Monitoring Committee” meeting times and membership were made.  Fake Frankie Waters admitted to this during a regularly scheduled Beaufort County Commissioners meeting.  During the same meeting Fake Frankie announced that County Commissioners would be “allowed” to attend. All of this flies in the face of transparent government and ethical behavior by these elected and appointed officials.

An even more egregious thing has happened.  There were Progress Monitoring Committee meetings scheduled for June 13, July 11 and August 8.  On June 12 Superintendent Cheeseman sent an email stating the June 12 meeting was rescheduled to August 8th.  I take it the July meeting is also cancelled. This means there will be three months (May, June and July) with no opportunity for oversight.  I have requested Superintendent Cheeseman thru the Beaufort County Government to know what will be reviewed at the August meeting?  I have no reply at this writing.

I believe the entire project will be presented to the Commissioners at the August meeting with the demand that we approve the project with no time to review it. This fits with Cheeseman’s promise to the Rotary Club that the school will be occupied beginning in August of 2026. This demand approval is the worst thing that can happen.  There will be no opportunity to understand the cost of the project and whether or not critical things have been left out or whether alternatives might be less expensive. It is the responsibility of Beaufort County taxpayers to pay for all overruns or shortages. It is impossible for Commissioners to perform our fiduciary responsibility unless we have time to review the proposals.  Commissioners are required to approve the cost of this project by enacting a capital budget ordinance. I suspect Randy Walker will follow his wife’s orders and approve whatever Cheeseman wants.  Ed Booth will do as his wife says.  Fake Frankie Waters will vote for it.  Jerry Langley will support Booth.  John Rebholz will follow Fake Frankie.

In truth there is no oversight because the Progress Monitoring Committee has failed to make good any of their promises.  Among these are the promise of a report from the Department of Public Instruction or an equivalent report justifying the capacity of the new building at 960 students when present enrolment is 800 students.  This is a 20 percent increase in a county with a declining public school population.  A promise was made for the School System to appear at the June Commissioners meeting for a progress update and discussions about construction escalation and contingency costs.  No one from the School board was at June Commissioners meeting.  This leaves me with no choice but to declare that Fake Frankie Waters, T. W. Allen and Cheeseman have lied.

Adding fuel to the honesty fire is the announcement in the Washington Daily News of Cheeseman’s appearance at the Washington Rotary Club meeting on June 12 that the new school will be for 1,000 students.  That is a 25 percent over build.  This in the face of the fact that all other school buildings in Beaufort County are only half full.  These are Pre-K thru the 3rd grade students.   Could it be the three usurpers (Waters, Allen and Cheeseman) plan to close another school, maybe Chocowinity Elementary or Bath, and cram those students into the Eastern Elementary site.

It is noteworthy that there have been no demographic and transportation studies that show how 800 or 960 or 1,000 seats in the new school will affect other attendance areas.  Parents need to wake up before these three super educators finish destroying our school system.  Do the citizens of Beaufort County want to continue the terrible quality of education in these mega schools or start working toward smaller neighborhood schools?

The Beaufort County School System has accumulated an inferior reputation for the quality of education considering the number failing and almost failing schools, disciplinary problems, declining enrollment, and failure to enforce criminal behavior.  Private enrollment and home schooling are increasing.  The recent failure in handling the criminal damage to the Washington High School Cafeteria by the School Board lead me to believe the public should take a hard look at replacing school board members up for election this fall.  

It is working out that the decisions on this new school will be made by lame duck School board members.

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( June 19th, 2024 @ 8:59 pm )
Can’t get nothing by the hawk

Washingtonitilist might have been worried about the repercussions of using the correct terminology after what had happened to that poor boy in that one NC school. Imagine being a child and learning definitions in school, but when they tell you, “use it in a sentence” your sentence becomes an illegal hate crime. The one sane child is sent to mental health counseling when in fact it is the teachers and administrators who are the ones in desperate need of it.

Talk about traumatizing a child.
( June 19th, 2024 @ 8:10 pm )
"Illegal alien" is the correct term as defined in federal immigration law for foreign citizens who are in our country illegally. However, federal immigration law defines "immigrant" as only those foreign citizens who are properly going through the legal immigration process.

"illegal immigrant" is a contradiction in terms because if they are here illegally, they are NOT an immigrant under the definitions of federal immigration law. Indeed that term is an insult to real immigrants who are lawfully going through the immigration process.
( June 19th, 2024 @ 7:20 pm )
Good catch Washington for not using the term “illegal alien”
( June 19th, 2024 @ 5:52 pm )
Perhaps the new school will be repurposed to house illegal immigrants.
( June 18th, 2024 @ 8:53 pm )
Eastern NC has many huge new beautiful schools. I guess after every one is rebuilt only to discover it has no impact on the actual learning taking place, we can move to the real issues.
( June 18th, 2024 @ 8:18 pm )
So Cheeseman is trying to build the largest elementary school ever built in North Carolina. It is easy to see how that benefits Cheeseman's resume but it is hard to see how it benefits education in Beaufort County. The school board majority is nothing but Cheeseman's useful idiots and Beaufort County voters deserve better.
( June 18th, 2024 @ 12:04 pm )
We continue to get poor decisions from this group. Change the method. Change the results. We need better management and there is an election coming up.
( June 17th, 2024 @ 9:00 pm )
According to a retired Education professor I was talking to today, this would be one of the largest K-3 elementary schools in the state of North Carolina. No other K3 elementary school in the area comes close to housing 1,000 students. I can just imagine the traffic jams of parents picking up and dropping off that many kids at one school together with all the buses. Does that make good sense? Is that what is in the best interest of education in Beaufort County?

The planning process has been behind closed doors, but it is apparent that the school system has failed to get a school population study, which DPI will do for free if asked. Our system has a declining enrollment, and this mega school may be a white elephant in a few years. There are also studies that can be done, coordinated by DPI but actually done by NC State University, that calculate where in a county the school population will be in the future. That would seem to be critical in figuring out where to put a new school. Apparently this was not done either. I recall in the past hearing projections of population growth to the west of Washington instead of on the east side of it, but I am not sure how that plays into school age population.

All of us as taxpayers want to see our public funds used in the most effective manner possible, and from what is apparent so far, this project does not meet those standards.
( June 16th, 2024 @ 7:37 pm )
The public has been completely ignored in this process. A school board that cared about representing the prople would have sought public input at two stages of the provess. First in asking what the public thought were the top school construction needs, which should have been done early on before any planning was even started. Once a concrete pland was devised, that also should have been submitted to a public hearing. Tnstead this board did everything in secret without any public input. Of course, input from outside experts should also have been obtained and it wasn't
( June 16th, 2024 @ 6:56 pm )
Beaufort County has a Tammany Hall style government both with its school board and county commission. No transparency is in the process because everything is done by secret deals in the backroom. Our school system has had this problem for some time as our last school construction spree built too much space some places and left needs unmet in others. We are seeing the same "fly by the seat of their pants" approach this time, and probably worse.

The big cheese on that committee is Cheeseman. T.W. Allen is a joke, and little more than Cheeseman's sock puppet. When Cheeseman says "jump" he asks how high? Frankie Waters owes Cheeseman a big political favot, so he will rubber stamp whatever Cheeseman wants. When Waters wanted to screw his adversary Commissioner Stan Deatherage out of the school website contract, Cheeseman did his dirty work for him, and so now Waters owes that favor, putting him in Cheeseman's pocket. This is a one man show, and it is all Cheeseman. Cheeseman wants what he wants for his own resume and does not care about the impact on education in Beaufort County.

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