School board presents “ambitious” draft budget to county commissioners

Published 8:22 am Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Stanly County School Board and the Stanly County Commissioners met Tuesday evening as the school board presented the commissioners with the SCS 2019-2020 draft budget.

“It’s sort of an ambitious budget,” school board chairman Melvin Poole said.

Before he highlighted what was in the budget to the commissioners, board member Anthony Graves, chairman of the finance committee, stressed this was an “ideal or optimal budget.”

“It’s one of the first budgets…in at least over a decade that represents the true needs of the school system,” Graves said.

Graves added the budget “included every dollar we needed and not one dollar that we did not need so that it was a fair representation of what the school system needed to be effective.”

The draft budget would make Stanly more comparable to local counties like Union and Cabarrus. Bus drivers and teachers have been moving to other counties that pay more.

The proposed budget includes financial increases in six of the eight departments compared to the current school year’s budget.

Personnel would increase 43 percent from $5.5 million to $9.9 million, while textbook/digital resources would increase by 50 percent from $100,000 to $150,000.

Transportation, contracted services, instructional materials and supplies and facilities would all increase by seven to eight percent.

In total, SCS is looking for $17.6 million in local funding, a 38 percent increase compared to this school year’s projected year-end budget of $12.7 million.

The draft budget also includes a projected $3.3 million for capital improvements, which is not part of the $17.6 million.

The budget draft was based on current expenditures, a comparative analysis of salaries and compensations of SCS officials compared to those in surrounding counties which was performed School Efficiency Consultants and the needs of specific principals, Graves said.

Superintendent Dr. Jeff James estimated that unfunded mandates from the state were costing Stanly County taxpayers about $9 million a year.

“I’m glad that the school board invited us to hear their finance committee’s proposal,” Commission Chairman Matthew Swain said. “While not surprised at the massive need that our schools have for various operating needs, I was surprised that the committee asked us to increase certain items that the state is ultimately responsible for.

“I look forward to working with the school board as a team to lobby our state delegation to reduce unfunded mandates and continue to raise teacher and staff pay,” Swain added.  “As seen tonight, those mandates make up $9 million of the local money they get from the county commissioners’ budget. A reduction of that number could make a huge impact on what the system is able to accomplish.”

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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