by YES! Staff

WSFCS requests $2.5 million

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Donald L. Martin Jr. told the Forsyth County Commission on April 30 that the school system will need an additional $2.5 million in funding to cover office staffing costs for three new schools: Caleb’s Creek Elementary, Kimball Farm Elementary and Flat Rock Middle School. Kerry Crutchfield, director of financial services for the school system, said the projected funding shortfall is part of a “triple whammy” experienced by the school system in recent days. “[It’s] been nothing but bad news. On Tuesday, we got the word that the governor issued an executive order that all state employees had to take a 0.5 percent pay cut, but since there’s only one month left in the fiscal year, they will have to take a six percent cut. On Thursday, we got the news that the state is taking another $41 million from [public schools] allotment. Forsyth County’s share — $1.45 million — will have to be reverted. Then we found out state health insurance premiums are going up 8.9 percent as of July 1,” Crutchfield said. Last month, the school system learned that its application for $25 million in economic stimulus funds was approved. Crutchfield said the school system would use a portion of the federal funds to cover the budget shortfall this fiscal year. The school system also announced that it was cutting 25 staff positions, but Crutchfield said the administration was working diligently to find other jobs for those employees. “I’m still more concerned about what happens two years down the road when the stimulus money is gone,” he said. Neighboring Guilford County Schools expects to return about $2 million, after previously reverting $2.8 million to the state. — KTB

Farmer responds to Foxx’s comments on hate crime bill

Thomas Farmer, president of the Winston-Salem chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or PFLAG, said he was “shocked and appalled” by comments made by US Rep. Virginia Foxx, the Republican who represents North Carolina’s 5 th Congressional District, on the floor of the House on April 29 regarding a measure to extend federal hate crimes legislation to cover sexual orientation. “The hate crimes bill that’s called the Matthew Shepard bill is named after a very unfortunate incident that happened where a young man was killed but we know that that young man was killed in the commitment of a robbery,” Foxx said. “It wasn’t because it was gay. The hate crimes bill was named for him but it’s really a hoax.” Farmer said the facts of the Matthew Shepard murder clearly show that he was attacked because of his sexual orientation. “That’s beyond the pale of just a robbery. I would like to believe that most sensible people can understand the difference,” Farmer said. Understanding what constitutes a hate crime is key to understanding the need for extending federal protections to gays and lesbians, said Farmer. “[Foxx] could make herself available to groups like PFLAG. She might learn that incidents like what happened to Matthew Shepard terrorize a community that has traditionally been marginalized, and how bullying in middle school and high school adversely impact our ability to get a quality education, “ Farmer said. The hate crimes bill passed 249-175. — KTB

Marshburn appeals conviction

William A. Marshburn of Greensboro filed an appeal on April 29 against a district court conviction for misdemeanor disorderly conduct that was handed down by Judge Tom Jarrell last month. “There was a perceived threat against some city council members,” Jarrell said after finding Marshburn guilty. “Were [the police] waiting for you when you got there? I believe they were. Were they on the lookout for you? I believe they had to.” Marshburn had been arrested outside of Greensboro City Council chambers in June 2008 with a can of mace and a bullhorn after telling a city planner: “I’m going to shoot anybody that’s higher up. Duke Power. City council members. Have them come out.” The council had voted on original zoning for land recently annexed into the city, and Marshburn had been upset about having to pay fees to be hooked into the city’s water and sewer network. The district attorney dismissed nine charges of communicating threats before winning the conviction for disorderly conduct. — JG

Walter Marshall disputes school system report

Forsyth County Commissioner Walter Marshall disputed the accuracy of reports presented by Winston- Salem Forsyth County School Superintendent Donald L. Martin Jr. regarding renovations and improvements to Carver High School during a board of commissioners briefing on April 30. Marshall said the school system set aside $320,000 for renovations and improvements to Carver High School for the current school year, including $90,000 for repaving of the school parking lot. Marshall, a former school board member, said of the $320,000 allotted to Carver for improvements, the school has only spent $45,000 from a discretionary athletic fund plus the cost of a new sprinkler system. Marshall has requested to receive all documents related to county school improvement projects at the board’s next briefing session on Thursday at 2 p.m. Marshall asked assistant superintendent of operations Darrell Walker why the work had not been completed and Walker responded that the renovations were finished. “I know no asphalt has been laid at Carver in over a year,” Marshall said. “I said, ‘If you’ve got the paperwork then someone needs to go to jail because the work hasn’t been done.’” Carver is one of six Forsyth County high schools designated as an “equity plus” school due to the fact that more than 35 percent of its students receive free or reduced price lunches. Marshall said he was also concerned by Martin’s presentation that revealed equity plus schools were losing teachers. “My contention is that a racial disparity in the school system. You basically have two school systems in Forsyth County,” he said. — KTB

Anti-smoking bill scheduled

A bill to prohibit smoking in public and workplaces that was approved by the NC House last month has been placed on the Senate calendar for Wednesday

after a substitute bill cleared the Senate Health Care Committee last month. The bill prohibits smoking in state government buildings and vehicles, prohibits smoking in public places and places of employment, and authorizes local governments to approve more restrictive prohibitions. Sen. Peter Brunstetter, a Republican who represents Forsyth County, home of Reynolds American, complained in an e-mail to constituents that the bill “was rammed through the Senate Health Committee by the chairman with less than 20 minutes discussion by committee members, with little regard for parliamentary procedure, and very little permitted debate.” The Health Committee is chaired by Sen. Stan Bingham (R-Davidson). Sen. Katie Dorsett (D-Guilford), also a member of the Health Committee, is a cosponsor of the bill’s Senate version. — JG

Natty Greene’s shut out at the new Winston ballpark

Natty Greene’s Pub and Brewing Company, a primary sponsor of the Winston-Salem Dash minor league baseball team, has not been allowed to sell beer at the Class A Chicago White Sox affiliate’s temporary home since Opening Day on April 23. Kevin Mortesen, a spokesman for the Dash, said the team has been working toward getting a permit to sell alcohol at Wake Forest Baseball Park but would not speculate about when a permit might be issued. Mortesen said Natty Greene’s, a Greensboro brewpub, would not pay sponsorship fees for games not played in the downtown ballpark currently under construction. The new baseball stadium appears to be a long way from being finished. In November, Dash owner Billy Prim began a buyout of partner Andrew “Flip” Flipowski. Mortesen said all team sponsors “will be made whole” and would not pay for games played at Wake Forest Baseball Park. “That is not part of the sponsorship,” Mortesen said. Steve Schutt, a Wake Forest spokesman, said the Dash negotiated an agreement with the school to play its early season games at the stadium formerly known as Ernie Shore Field. Schutt said NCAA regulations would not prevent the Dash from selling beer or wine at its games. “The NCAA does not get involved in that kind of stuff,” Schutt said. “That’s an institutional decision.” —KTB

Hagan to pursue federal earmarks for Greensboro

Federal earmarks are typically disparaged as “pork,” with one notable exception — when the spending is directed at particular person’s local jurisdiction. Count Greensboro interim City Manager Bob Morgan as a fan. “We were contacted yesterday afternoon by Senator Kay Hagan’s office regarding potential earmark funding,” he wrote in a May 1 memo to city council. “Her legislative staff believes there may be additional funding opportunities for Greensboro in this year’s Congressional appropriations. This is an unusual opportunity for a freshman senator but exciting for us. Her office has asked for potential projects Senator Hagan can pursue on our behalf. Thus far, Greensboro has submitted a funding request for War Memorial Stadium in accordance with the council’s expressed interest” — JG