Any law enforcement officer will tell you that ignorance of the law is not a valid defense, and we are telling Bladen County residents the very same thing — with a twist: ignorance of the quarter-cent sales tax is no excuse.
Since the Bladen County Board of Education floated a plan by an ad hoc committee that would close three schools — Clarkton School of Discovery, Booker T Washington and Plain View Primary — numerous residents have voiced concern, anger and frustration.
Some of those emotions have been focused on a quarter-cent sales tax that was recently defeated twice. Many are saying they didn’t understand why the tax was necessary and what it would be used for.
We say hooey to that notion.
This newspaper, along with several other media outlets throughout the region, clearly spelled out in stories and editorials why the sales tax was necessary, what the revenue would be used for how it was a fair method for everyone. Not just once, but numerous times. There is no way parents of students could know about the proposed school closures this year, yet claim ignorance about the sales tax referendum last year. But it is an easy excuse.
Parents and residents affected by the potential closing of the three schools have only two groups to be concerned, angry and frustrated with: themselves and the Bladen Improvement Association. It is plain and simple that a blase’ public on local issues and a group of folks who are only interested in an agenda that will benefit few at the expense of the majority that has taken advantage of that blase’ voting public are to blame.
We will state once again: Passing the quarter-cent sales tax would have kept all three schools open.
But we also know there is another excuse being bandied about by the public, and that centers around the building of a new county jail. Many parents and residents are claiming the county’s Board of Commissioners are choosing a hail over our students — which is completely laughable.
A new jail has been mandated by a Superior Court judge and the state of North Carolina. The commissioners have put it off as long as they could and now have no choice in the matter. It’s a shame the issue has come up at the same time as a need for education funding to keep three schools open, but it’s an apples and oranges discussion.
Bladen County parents simply have to start taking a year-round interest in what is going on with local boards and the issues facing them. It can’t continue to be a knee-jerk reaction after the fact.
Pay attention, folks. Otherwise the consequences rest firmly on your shoulders.