10/23/18 Outgoing board member: Support bond

Alamance-Burlington Board of Education Chair Allison Gant presents board member Mark Payne with a plaque to honor his years of service at Monday night’s board meeting.

Jessica Williams / Times-News

Alamance-Burlington Board of Education Chair Allison Gant presents board member Mark Payne with a plaque to honor his years of service at Monday night’s board meeting.

Outgoing board member: Support bond
Normally taciturn Mark Payne uses final speech to implore voters to pass the referendum
By Jessica Williams, The Times-News 10/23/18     
Reprinted with permission.  
 
Mark Payne wants voters to remember the hamburger Nov. 6.

Payne is the quietest member of the Alamance-Burlington Board of Education, but he spoke for nearly 20 minutes at the Monday, Oct. 22, meeting — his last chance to address the public as a board member — about topics ranging from teacher pay to the school system’s $150 million bond referendum.

“I know the bond is on everyone’s minds this election season and the number $150 million is huge, but one must remember that figure will be paid out over a span of years by all of us in our county through multiple sources,” Payne said. “The best way I know at the bond at a personal level was touched on by our county manager in a recent interview: The ABSS bond will cost a taxpaying homeowner about $118 a year more if you live in a $150,000 home in Alamance County. With the passing of the quarter-cent tax sales tax, that same homeowner will pay approximately $64 more per year.”

Monthly, that breaks down to either $15.16 or $5.34, he told the small crowd. Then, he described the price of the average family trip to McDonald’s.

For his family, a trip to McDonald’s to buy hamburgers, fries and drinks costs around $20.

“That’s more than the worst case scenario for that $150,000 house, spent in 30 minutes,” he said. “I’m just saying. I guess what I’m saying is ‘remember the hamburger’ when thinking about what this will actually cost you and I personally.”

He followed this information with a warning, urging the public to seek out their own information and ignore “naysayers” who are spouting misinformation.

His speech followed the school system’s final public forum on the bond, which took place at 5 p.m. Monday and drew a crowd of around 10 hoping to have their last-minute questions answered before going to the polls.

One community member asked, “What happens if the bond doesn’t pass?”

“We go back to exactly where we’re at right now,” Assistant Superintendent for Operations Todd Thorpe responded. “Unfortunately, nothing will change. … There’s not a Plan B.”

Payne has been a member of the board since December 2014.

Prior to that, he was an ABSS band teacher for more than three decades. Though he chose not to run for re-election, he emphasized that he plans to remain involved with the schools.

Chair Allison Gant presented him with a plaque honoring his service and board members, as well as the superintendent, thanked him during their comments.

Steve Van Pelt added, “I’ll second what Mark had to say in one word: vote.”

“I feel that great changes are on the horizon for our kids and look forward to seeing the results that I know are coming,” Payne said. “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve this school system and county.”