News from the Board -- February 5, 2024

Posted by Jessica Wells on 2/7/2024 11:45:00 AM


The Onslow County Board of Education met in special session on Monday, February 5, for the purpose of considering an engagement structure for legal services, reviewing existing programs regarding advisory councils in OCS, and meeting in closed session pursuant to Open Meetings Law.  

For the first item on the agenda, the Board heard from Superintendent Barry Collins and Katie Cornetto, a representative from Poyner Spruill LLP. Poyner Spruill was selected by the Board in November to serve as the district’s new general counsel, beginning this spring. The purpose of this agenda item was to select a pricing structure for the district’s engagement with Poyner Spruill.  

Three options were presented to the Board:  

  1. No monthly retainer. Billed hourly for all work.
    • Hourly rates: $240 (partner and of counsel)/$215 (associates)/$95 (paralegal)
  2. $2,000 monthly retainer, including attendance at 1 Board meeting per month and 2 half-day trainings during the term of engagement. 
    • Hourly rates: $225 (partner and of counsel)/$200 (associates)/$95 (paralegal) 
  3. $5,000 monthly retainer, including presence at all Board meetings each month, 4 half-day trainings during the term of the engagement, and policy work. 
    • Hourly rates: $215 (partner and of counsel)/$190 (associates)/$95 (paralegal) 

Dr. Collins recommended option 3 to better serve the Board’s needs. Option 3 was approved 6-0. Board member Louis Rogers was absent at the time of the vote.  

Next, the Board discussed the possibility of continuing a relationship with our current general counsel after the transition to Poyner Spruill. In the proposed engagement for legal services from Erwin Law Firm, the firm would stay on contract with the Board to handle local, procedural legal needs, such as bond forfeitures, lienholder petitions, reviewing custody orders, handling real estate matters, etc. The benefit of this engagement structure for the district would be having a local attorney nearby to handle procedural matters in local courts. All work handled by Erwin Law Firm would be billed at the rate of $200/hour.  

The Board approved the engagement structure for legal services 5-2. Board members Louis Rogers and Angie Todd cast the dissenting votes.  

Next on the agenda was a review of existing programs regarding advisory councils.  

The Board heard from Dr. Chris Barnes, OCS chief academic officer, who shared an overview of current and historical legislation regarding requirements for advisory boards. Based on current legislation, he said, OCS meets all requirements, but there is certainly room for discussion on how to expand or improve the district’s parental and community involvement efforts.  

After discussion surrounding whether an additional District Community Advisory Council is needed, and what specific purpose it would serve, the Board decided to reconvene later to establish the purpose of and feasibility of such a council. 


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