Durham, NC – Last month, North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) President Commissioner Brenda Howerton hosted the NCACC’s Board of the Directors meeting at Hillside High School. NCACC Board meetings are held several times throughout the year to provide an opportunity for the Board of Directors and its Executive Committee to discuss policy decisions and how best to direct the work of the Association and its staff.
The recent NCACC Board meeting also featured special guests from the North Carolina School Board Association, including its President, Minnie Forte-Brown, Executive Director, Dr. Ed Dunlap, and Government Relations Director, Leanne Winner.
As president of the NCACC, Howerton leads a presidential initiative that supports all 100 counties. Her initiative, “100 Counties Helping Our Children Thrive,” serves as the greatest focus of her presidency held from 2017 to 2018. The initiative hones in on cultivating North Carolina’s youth and preparing them to be citizens contributing to the future of the United States.
NCACC President Howerton and her Thrive Task Force Co-Chairs, Gary Blevins, Wilkes County Chair and Ed Booth, Beaufort County Commissioner, reported on her presidential initiative, “100 Counties: Helping Our Children Thrive.” The initiative focuses on identifying ways for county government to make a positive impact in children’s lives. The discussion focused on the Thrive Summit, held in March in Guilford County, to showcase innovative county programs and services to support children.
“It was a fantastic Board of County Commissioners meeting, having these incredible young people sharing with commissioners from across the state their concerns and needs. I am thankful to have been able to host this meeting in Hillside High School and have Minnie Forte Brown, president of the NC School Board Association attending, along with other School Board Members. We are All in this together for ALL our children to THRIVE,” said NCACC President Brenda Howerton.
NCACC Board members participated in a panel discussion with Durham County public school student leaders, which was moderated by Dr. Nakia Hardy, Deputy Superintendent of Academics for Durham County Schools. Commissioners and students exchanged views on school safety, school calendar flexibility, and student performance.
In Durham County there are many notable children’s programs. Some of those programs include My Brother’s Keeper Durham, Made in Durham, Durham’s Partnership for Children, Partnership for a Healthy Durham, and East Durham Children’s Initiative. The County has committed to taking the lead on creating a comprehensive cradle-to-car
During the recent NCACC meeting, Board members also received a briefing by North Carolina’s State Budget Director, Charlie Perusse, who discussed his analysis of post-recession economic recovery across North Carolina and opportunities to accelerate economic growth, particularly in areas that are still facing challenges. Perusse also offered a preview of Governor Roy Cooper’s budget request, which is expected to be released in May.
Durham County works to promote Economic Development by facilitating relationships with community partners that bring a wide array of quality jobs to the County. This is accomplished by marketing Durham County as an ideal place for investment, jobs and facilities that are looking to expand or relocate through the promotion of our growing economy, workforce capital and infrastructure assets. In certain cases, when particular economic investment and job creation thresholds are met, the County may provide incentives to assist with that process.
Perusse said the budget will include significant investments in several county priorities such as a statewide school construction bond, expanding broadband access, and supporting the implementation of the new law that raises the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 16 to 18. Perusse noted that the budget will provide additional funding for disaster recovery, opioid addiction treatment, and public safety improvements in schools and at state prisons. The budget will also target rural economic development and workforce readiness.
North Carolina School Board Association President Minnie Forte-Brown, Executive Director, Dr. Ed Dunlap, and Government Relations Director, Leanne Winner discussed the deepening ties between the School Board Association and NCACC, which are bound by common interests and shared legislative priorities, such as the statewide school construction bond.
“It was such an honor to address President Howerton and the members of the NCACC Board of Directors,” said NC School Boards Association President Minnie Forte-Brown. “School board members and county commissioners share more commonalities than we do differences. I look forward to our organizations collaborating on issues and working together to create the best educational experiences for all of North Carolina’s children.”
Both organizations are part of a broad stakeholder coalition focused on promoting passage of the Public School Building Bond Act, which would put a bond question on the ballot this November, to provide $1.9 billion for public school facility grants to all 100 counties. More than 20 commissioners were named as “School Bond Ambassadors” at the meeting, pledging their commitment to promote passage of the legislation during the upcoming short session of the General Assembly.
Durham County has added 1,900 students over the past 10 years – not including charter growth. The backlog of school capital needs is over $300 million, with the average age of school buildings at 46 years. This backlog has resulted in students in Durham County being taught in overcrowded classrooms, deteriorating school buildings, and 97 modular units.
In addition, Person County Commissioner, Ray Jeffers, thanked the Board for supporting his candidacy to become the Second Vice President of the National Association of Counties. NACo is a national advocacy and leadership organization representing the common interests of 3,069 county governments throughout the country. Guilford County Commissioner, Kay Cashion also delivered remarks about her work as Chair of the NACo Arts and Culture Committee and collaboration with U.S. Senator Thom Tillis, who provided a video update on an innovative art therapy program at the Intrepid Spirit Center at Fort Bragg to help veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brian Injury and chronic pain.
The North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) is the official voice of all 100 counties on issues being considered by the General Assembly, Congress and federal and state agencies. The Association provides expertise to counties in the areas of advocacy, research, risk management and education and leadership training.