Sunday, May 11, 2014 —
School leaders plan to ask county commissioners for nearly $700,000 more than last year’s budget.
Stanly County Schools’ Superintendent Terry Griffin presented the system’s proposed budget at Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting. In a unanimous vote, the school board approved Griffin’s proposed local budget that will be introduced to the Board of Commissioners later this month.
Griffin wants $10.2 million in local appropriations for 2014-15 expenses. The system is also asking the county for $1.7 million toward 2014-15 capital expenditures, nearly $60,000 less than last year.
Last year, Stanly County Schools’ overall operating budget was $73 million, with the county paying $9.5 million. The board has not yet approved a total budget with the state and federal government’s allocation.
Among the requests for additional funding include: an additional school nurse ($60,587), social worker ($45,587 less a $15,000 grant), teacher assistants restored to eight hours per day ($158,500), two positions of lead teachers in middle/high schools for career development & curriculum ($121,174), addition of cross country for middle schools ($8,000) and stipends for teachers to work at Career Development Center ($130,000).
Other requests for the proposed budget increase include: instructional supplies for science labs ($83,000), reading materials for libraries and classes ($83,000) and athletic trainer start-up supplies ($40,000).
Although school board member Melvin Poole said he has no problem with the budgeted requests, he expressed concern about the added nurse and social worker. He said creating new positions in the face of other employees not getting increases might not sit well.
“I’m struggling with processing that,” Poole said.
Board member Mike Barbee expressed a concern about future funding for the positions.
“I don’t want to ask for the additional positions and then cut them next year,” Barbee said.
Todd Swaringen defended the requests.
“I don’t look at this as adding positions, I look at it as adding support services for students,” Swaringen said.
“I think we’re asking for specific positions that meet specific needs in our school system.”
Griffin called the requests “needs to move the system forward.”
Statistics suggest that there is a growing demand for an additional nurse. In the 2012-13 school year, there were 19 pregnant students, 517 students taking routine medications, 667 students with emergency medications, 2,667 students with chronic health conditions, 102 students with seizure disorders, 37 diabetics and 739 students with asthma.
“We sound like we’re running a hospital more than an educational center,” Poole said.
Data shows social workers are equally as busy.
During the budget’s public hearing, a group of social workers addressed the board in support of the added position.
“Right now, we are stretched very thin,” said Misty Huneycutt on behalf of the current social workers.
“If given a fourth social worker, we’ll be able to divide social workers within districts.”
She added that an extra social worker would encourage more parental involvement while also better serving communities.
Griffin began the budget presentation with a PowerPoint visual that shows Stanly County Schools is performing comparable or better than counties of similar size. Stanly is slightly below the state average, but within respectable range.
As of the 2013 school year, Stanly’s graduation rate is at 82.3 percent, the highest level over the past six years, compared to the state’s rate of 82.5 percent. Most of the graduates pursued higher education, with 37 percent heading to a four-year college and 48 percent attending a community college.
For that same school year, Stanly’s dropout rate was 4 percent, compared to the state’s 2.45 percent.
“We have a lot of work to do in this area,” Griffin said.
The allocation of two positions for the curriculum and professional development will help address the dropout problem. Stanly is modeling a program practiced by other successful districts, Griffin said.
Plans call for the school system to expand its use of the Chromebook project into the middle schools. It’s underway in the high schools.
At $500,000, technology ranks as the largest ticket item among capital expenses, followed by controlled access at North Stanly and South Stanly high schools at $175,000 and roofing repairs totaling $150,000.
The county is responsible for 18 percent of the schools’ funding, with the state covering the bulk of expense at 68 percent, the federal government contributing 8 percent and an enterprise fund covering the balance.
School officials already know state funding will be $286,000 less for the next school year.
School leaders were able to reduce the budget with $320,000 in savings.
Griffin will present the budget to the commissioners at their May 19 meeting.
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