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Union school board rejects latest settlement offer

The Union County school board believes it’s better to have $91 million in county funds than $11.2 million.

So on Thursday, in a seven-page letter to county commissioners from the school board chair, the board confirmed it is rejecting the commissioners’ latest efforts to settle a budget funding lawsuit.

School board chair Richard Yercheck also wrote that the commissioners’ “attitude of disrespect and condescension toward the board of education is a fundamental problem that has to be addressed and changed.”

Commissioners are appealing a $91 million award to the school district that a Union County jury delivered in October following a two-month trial. The school board had wanted more money than the county had allocated for the schools.

The county has said it would need to raise taxes or slash expenses to help cover the award if the verdict stands.

Yerchecksaid Thursday the school board is willing to let the county spread out payments over an unspecified number of years.

“When we get together (early next year) to start on next year’s budget, there will be a 91-million pound gorilla in the room so it’s incumbent that we find some resolution” to the verdict, Yercheck said.

He suggested spreading payment over “much less than a 10-year period.”

County commissioner Jonathan Thomas said he was disappointed the school board did not approve the settlement offer. “They’ve proven they are not interested in protecting the taxpayers, so we’ll move forward with the appeal.”

The offer from the commissioners included $9.4 million for roofing needs identified in the trial, and about $1.8 million for supplemental teacher pay. In exchange, the county would drop the appeal.

“We do not think that making the schools dry and safe for our students and staff should be a legal ‘bargaining chip,’” Yercheck wrote in the letter.

Bell: 704-358-5696; Twitter: @abell
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