schoolsHaywood County Schools will cut its budget by $900,000 next year, plus tap its cash reserves to the tune of $1.5 million to soften the blow of what would otherwise be even larger cuts.

“This is a draft. We may have to go back and cut more,” Haywood Superintendent Anne Garrett said, when presenting a summary of the school system budget to county commissioners last month.

fr maconschoolsThird-grade teacher Carolyn Cope deals with many stresses day in and day out —making sure her students are happy and healthy, teaching them a new curriculum and making sure she’s prepared them well enough to pass their extensive reading tests.

op frThe Haywood County School Board narrowly voted (5 to 4, with Chairman Chuck Francis breaking a tie) to contribute money toward a lobbying effort by the N.C. School Boards Association. The decision is the right one given the current situation in Raleigh and hopefully will be money well spent.

Lobbying is a catchall phrase that often has a negative connotation. I get that. When business groups direct thousands of dollars to candidate campaigns and then try to use that support to influence legislation, things often get sleazy. We’ve all read about it happening too many times.

An innovative tool to help recruit the best and brightest teachers to Haywood County has become too costly for the school system to continue in light of education budget cuts in recent years.

It’s about that time. Time to worry about PILT money.  

After seeing the federal payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) program receive a one-year extension early this year, local leaders are now looking out for more than the program’s continuance going forward.

fr forumNorth Carolina education has seen its share of high-profile issues over the last couple of years. Teacher raises, tenure, vouchers, budget calculations and adoption — and then abandonment — of the Common Core State Standards have all made headlines. A roomful of people gathered at last week’s Macon County League of Women Voters’ meeting to hear a panel of Macon County teachers, administrators and teachers address those changes’ effect on the classroom. The question: Is public education reforming or declining? 

art frAll is not well at the Uptown Gallery in Franklin.

“It’s pretty bad,” said Sue Weathers. “We’re losing money, and keeping the gallery open is getting pretty hard.”

Co-director of the gallery and a member of the Macon County Art Association, which runs the gallery, Weathers is putting an open call out to the local residents, visitors and greater Western North Carolina that help is needed to ensure the longevity and survival of the 52-year-old nonprofit business.

Western Carolina University is sweating out the North Carolina General Assembly’s budgetary process, but perhaps not as much as some institutions of higher education.

fr teachersAdvocates calling for increased state education funding made a stop in Haywood County Monday as part of a statewide tour en route to Raleigh, where they will deliver a stack of petitions signed by 61,000 state residents later this week.

In its quest to cut the fat ahead of the looming county revaluation, Macon County is turning to its retirement policies. Commissioners recently voted unanimously on a pair of personnel policy changes that will tighten up post-retirement health benefits for county employees. 

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