'There has to be a better way'
By Raz Autry
A few weeks ago I wrote an arti
cle about the importance of learn
ing to laugh at yourself.
The following article is my last
one as superintendent of schools
and I thank all of my friends for
& The children of this county,
those who have grown into adults
and those who are still growing,
have given me the rare opportunity
to witness true love and true
They have become a permanent
part of my life. I have cried with
them; grown with them; loved with
them and a little of me has died
when one of them died.
| My one hope for the Hoke
County Board of Education is that
they will remember that their sole
purpose is to do what is necessary
to give the children of this county
the opportunity for a first rate
education, regardless of whose
toes they might step on.
This would give them an even
start with everyone else in the
footrace of life. I hope the board
D will realize that this commitment
must come ahead of their personal
desires, their political ambitions,
and their personal prejudices.
Further, 1 hope they will
remember that the chief ad
ministrative officer was hired to
run the school program and not to
cater to their personal wishes. He
should be given the same courtesy
they expect. I wish them well and
* hope as they read this article they
w have learned to laugh at
The more I work with school
board members the more convin
ced I become that there should be a
better selection process than the
Every election year I get a new
optimistic high and simply know
that this is going to be a year in
which a board is elected that will
not question the integrity or in
telligence of the superintendent.
Not only am 1 disappointed
every election year, some years a
member is elected who not only
questions the superintendent's in
tegrity and honesty, but his paren
tage as well.
After following the true
democratic process for a number
of years, 1 decided to help elect a
* school board member who would
fit the mold desired by every
1 zeroed in on a neighbor and
golfing companion, a man who
was true blue. He was a good
church-goer; was not quick on the
trigger; one who thought through
every issue; one who was more
solid than a rock in tight situa
^ 1 was fully convinced that if this
man got elected he would help me
set a standard for school board
members that could never be sur
What a glorious day this would
be for education in this county.
In spite of my help, my friend
and golfing companion was
elected. In fact, he led the ticket.
A new-born, innocent baby
P could not have slept better than I
did on election night.
The first Monday following the
election was the regularly sched
uled school board meeting. I could
hardly contain myself. Not only
had my friend and golfing
companion led the ticket, he would
surely be elected chairman. No one
stood taller than I did at the swear
ing in ceremony. I could have very
[) easily been a part of his personal
Superintendent 's Desk
Since luck was running my way,
sure enough, he was elected chair
man. I had visions of us attending
board meetings together in far
away places; going to seminars and
discussing educational issues that
would lead to sound educational
When I stopped daydreaming I
suddenly realized that it was time
to start the agenda.
1 had been reluctant to discuss
the budget, and the reassignment
of an incompetent principal with
the old board. No more was I to
have that sinking feeling when I'd
bring up these two items.
My friend would defend me
vigorously, not only to the board
but in the community as well.
1 decided to tackle the budget
As customary, I had sent the
items to be discussed to the board
members a week in advance. This
gave them plenty of time to study
After giving the board time to
take another look at the budget I
decided to take on questions.
One of the experienced board
members, in length of service,
posed the first question: "What
happened to the fund balance we
had four years ago?" He fully ex
pected a full budget lesson in three
I was making a feeble attempt to
try to pull figures together for a
four year period when my friend
the chairman, or so I thought,
threw in another question.
He said, "I would like to have,
an explanation of why we
budgeted money to fill in the
potholes in front of the
Maintenance Shop. What are the
potholes doing there in the first
place? I thought that was the
highway department's job. After
all, Mr. Superintendent, we must
be careful with the taxpayer's
money. I don't intend to be a party
to wasting the taxpayers money.
There are a lot of things we need to
cut out of the budget. Are you sure
you have spent adequate time on
Just as you are getting over the
shock of seeing a total stranger
who looks just like your friend, he
hits you with another broadside
statement: "I think we need an ex
ecutive session to talk about the
performance of the superinten
Since the board always splits
with a 3-2 vote, even a motion to
adjourn, this suggestion also lost
on a 3-2 vote.
Even though I was in total disar
ray, I was foolish enough to think 1
was going to make progress with
the incompetent principal issue.
Oh how I had done my homework!
I had caught the principal playing
golf several mornings at 10 o'clock
when he was supposed to be atten
ding a meeting.
To find him asleep at his desk
He never made any major deci
The janitor took care of that.
The teachers arrived at school
late and left early.
The board constantly had hear
ings involving his school.
Most of these hearings centered
around the issue of whose respon
sibility it was when a child got hurt
while the teacher was out of the
classroom. I had documented
proof that the teachers spent half
of their time in the teacher's
lounge because they knew the prin
Arts Festival Scheduled
For Laurinburg April 17
The 13th Annual Arts in the
Park Festival is scheduled for Sun
day, April 17 from 2 p.m. until 5
p.m. in Laurinburg's Hammond
The Festival will feature crafts
exhibits and demonstrations as
well as crafts for sale; a juried art
show; children's art show as well
as a puppet show and musical
Applications are now available
for craftspersons who would like
to exhibit at the Festival. You may
secure them from Scotland County
Parks A Recreation in Laurinburg,
the Scotland Arts Council or Arts
Works in the Scotland Square
There is no entry fee. Exhibitors
who sell will be charged a S10 fee.
Ample shady space will be
For further information and to
obtain an entry form, contact
Scotland County Parks & Recrea
tion Commission, P.O. Box 1668,
Laurinburg, N.C. 28352.
Telephone (919) 276-0412.
The Arts in the Park Festival is
co sponsored by Parks & Recrea
tion and the Scotland Arts Council
with partial funding through a
Grassroots Grant from the N.C.
Arts Council, a state agency.
In County '10.00*
Outside County *12.00*
Sr. Citizen* * 8.00*
(In County Only)
Cplua N.C. Stat* Tan for N.C.
cipal was either off the school
grounds or asleep in his office.
I knew that with all this
documentation, 1 couldn't lose in
requesting a transfer. 1 had long
ago given up on firing him because
if you mention a lawsuit the board
I made my recommendation
with all the confidence of a con
demned murderer going to the
gallows with the hopes of a last
minute reprieve. There was
stunned silence from the board
when they had heard my recom
mendation. Anyone listening
would have thought I had an
nounced that a time bomb would
explode in 10 seconds. After all,
they had had a copy of my recom
mendation for a week. Apparently
that was not long enough.
My lukewarm friend, and chair
man of the board, was the first one
to speak. He had proven by his
knowledge of the budget that he
was indeed a man of wisdom and
that personal interests, likes, and
dislikes did not enter into his deci
When he cast forth his pearl of
wisdom and long thought out
phrase about what to do concern
ing my recommendation, I felt
plumb ashamed because 1 had
judged him wrongly. I only
thought he was a first class jack
ass, now 1 knew it.
Isn't he the chairman of the
board of deacons at the Baptist
Are you crazy?
Do you expect this board to
transfer the chairman of the board
We are here to serve all the
children, not just a few.
Yes, there has to be a better way.
US not slipping, but still number 1
by John Sledge
It is disturbing when peoplj
question if the United States is slip- i
ping in vital area, as the editors of
a national news magazine did
recently in an article headlined, "Is
The U.S. Really No. 2?"
While that question dealt with
U.S. military strength as compared
to the Soviet Union, other critics
suggest that our political and legal
systems are unworkable, that our
corporations habitually place pro
fits ahead of people, that only the
rich can afford health care, that
our industries are outmoded -with
non-existent quality control
reflected in a continuously declin
ing U.S. productivity.
It is time to call a halt to this
foolish denial of American
We are not saying we should be
happy to live with American infla
tion, unemployment or other pro
blems. What we are saying is that
our political system has produced a
national stability second to none.
Perhaps a letter-to-the-editor by
a Soviet immigrant provides the
perspective we need.
He wrote: "If Americans knew
what it is like to search for a piece
of meat and never find it; how it is
not to be able to buy a refrigerator
unless you stay on a waiting list for
ten years; what it is like, by man
datory registration, to be commit
ted forever to living in one place;
how easily people are put in jail for
complaining about it; what it is
like to live in constant fear and to
struggle for survival every day in a
country where courts are designed
to protect the government and
justice is formulated in one simple
concept of guilty unless you can
prove otherwise ...
"If they knew all this ... they
would whisper, as I do: 'God bless
this land and its people'."
We ARE number one. Never
........ . mmm:
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