Wake Ed

Wake County GOP school board member criticizes GOP lawmakers

Wake County school board member Bill Fletcher is the body’s lone registered Republican, but he is among the board’s harshest critics of state and county GOP elected officials.

In his July education newsletter in the Cary Citizen, Fletcher criticizes the Republican-controlled General Assembly for redrawing the school board’s election lines and for the state Senate’s budget plan. Fletcher also praises the all-Democratic Wake County Board of Commissioners for their support of the school system.

Fletcher notes how there are no school board races this year because the General Assembly redrew the election districts and moved the elections to next year. He writes how the legislature stepped in to ‘fix the problem” after Republicans lost the school board elections in 2011 and 2013.

“Their solution, enacted in 2013, scrambled the election maps again, double- or triplebunked sitting board members, and forced the election of all nine members at the same time during the November presidential and gubernatorial elections,” Fletcher writes. “This bad law needs to be changed.”

The new lines are being challenged in federal court.

On the Senate budget, Fletcher questions the proposal to cut teacher assistants to help fund class-size reductions in the early grades. Fletcher asks where Wake’s laid off teacher assistants would find work and how the district would find the classroom space to deal with the smaller classes.

Fletcher also criticizes the Senate for going with a salary scale that would give raises to teachers ever five years instead of more frequently.

“The question remains: How much is enough to pay teachers and support staff in our public schools?” Fletcher writes.

Fletcher’s was much more complimentary of the county commissioners, who voted last month to give a record $44.6 million school funding increase. He says there’s “a new way of doing business in Wake County.”

“The recent budget discussions were frank, sometimes emotional, and always pointed toward making our schools and community stronger,” Fletcher writes. “Disagreements still exist, yet the District and County staffs and the two elected Boards worked together to chart a positive course for our community.”

Fletcher was the GOP nominee for state Schools Superintendent in 2004. But Fletcher is not well liked by some Republicans, who’ve accused him of being a RINO (Republican In Name Only).