Wave Transit and New Hanover County Schools were the main agenda items at the Monday, February 17 County Commissioners meeting. Commissioners voted to approve $358,000 towards school safety initiatives, in light of recent allegations of child sexual abuse by teachers. Board members also authorized the appointment of Woody White to the Wave Authority Board -- but that vote wasn’t unanimous.
As part of Wave’s restructuring, County Commissioners were required Monday to appoint one of their members to the transportation system’s new nine-member board.
Chair Julia Olson-Boseman nominated Commissioner Woody White, with a second from Vice-Chair Patricia Kusek. But other board members -- Rob Zapple and Jonathan Barfield -- disagreed. Zapple stated he felt Barfield was the appropriate choice due to his experience serving on the previous Wave board, as well as the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Barfield, the only commissioner of color, made an additional point:
“I guess I’m looking at this new board, trying to figure out what the racial diversity is. Is there any diversity whatsoever?”
White’s appointment was then passed 3-2 -- with Zapple and Barfield against.
Monday’s other main item was the money allocated to county schools. Some of that will go towards new hires: two Title IX investigators, a Title IX administrative assistant, and a professional standards investigator. Other funds will go towards the severance package of former Superintendent Tim Markley, as well as child sexual abuse preventative training for staff and students.
Julie Varnam, NHCS Assistant Superintendent for Support Services:
“We have been moving through our work over several months and really identifying the best practices that we want to implement. At the opportunity that the commissioners spoke up and said they really wanted to support us, immediately we realized that we already had identified the best materials.”
Rob Zapple is a member of the WHQR Board of Directors.