Garner: Opinion

Editorial: Johnston schools throwing good money after bad

Johnston County school leaders followed through on their promise to take legal action against the state over a bill for more than $500,000 they received to help cover the cost of outgoing superintendent Ed Croom’s retirement pay.

That money, the state said, had to be paid by Johnston County taxpayers because the local school board’s contract with Croom gave him the opportunity to retire with a significantly larger pension payment. The changes flew in the face of new rules supported by the General Assembly to prevent government agencies from padding the already-large salaries of their top earners – people like Croom.

We must wonder, though, if the school system’s decision to file a lawsuit isn’t a case of throwing good money after bad.

School officials have said they didn’t understand the new laws when they were adopted. School officials have said they went to training seminars to learn more about the new law governing the practice of pension-spiking. And school officials failed to do what they tell their students to do every day: Raise your hand and ask questions, if you don’t understand.

Ignorance of the law, if that really is what happened here, is no excuse.

We expect our school board to understand and consider the ramifications of what they are doing. Just because it’s the public’s money and not their own doesn’t mean it’s OK to toss it around without understanding how it’s being spent.

Such a cavalier attitude makes us wonder if the school board makes curriculum changes that affect all students without fully understanding the impact those changes will have.

More importantly, as it relates to this lawsuit, though, we worry that the school board has simply decided to bow its back and dispute any charges that it was responsible for the decisions it made.

If the only reason the school board has for filing this lawsuit is to once again attempt to deflect blame onto someone else, then they really are playing fast and loose with the public purse.