Stanly commissioners, school board discuss SCS’s $31.8 million budget request

Published 11:22 am Thursday, May 9, 2024

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At a special joint meeting of Stanly’s board of commissioners and school board Wednesday, the two entities discussed the budget request of Stanly County Schools for the upcoming fiscal year.

Previously, the school board submitted a request to commissioners for local funds of $31.8 million, approximately $13 million more than last year.

Introducing the request to the meeting in a PowerPoint presentation, SCS Superintendent Dr. Jarrod Dennis said “we don’t expect to get all this money.”

He said SCS will have to make decisions on some parts on the budget request in terms of funding them fully, partly, not funding them or delaying the funding.

Maintenance director Keith Benton said part of the funds will go to replace old furniture “that doesn’t align with today’s learning and teaching in collaborative spaces.”

Benton said several schools need work on air conditioning systems, including Endy Elementary, where he added the R22 unit is leaking Freon and needs to be replaced.

School board chair Carla Poplin said she had received emails from teachers saying temperatures in their classrooms were reaching 89 degrees.

Benton said SCS has purchased refurbished replacement equipment from eBay.

“We’re doing our best,” Benton said. “We’ve got to start moving forward very fast.”

Benton said South Stanly High School just had a unit replaced two months ago, but now another one has stopped working.

When asked by Commissioner Peter Asciutto about air conditioned gyms, Dennis said none of the elementary ones were air conditioned except Central and Locust.

Benton said carpeting in many of the schools will be replaced with vinyl flooring.

One change will have SCS leasing mowing equipment and doing the work with its own maintenance personnel instead of hiring a company to do it. When Commission Chariman Bill Lawhon asked which properties are contracted out, Benton listed Aquadale, Albemarle High, Badin, North Middle, North Stanly High and Richfield. The others were cut by SCS maintenance staff.

When Commissioner Trent Hatley asked if the companies did their jobs well compared to staff, Benton said they did not. Hatley said he had heard the opposite, then Dennis used an example like North Stanly High.

“They are paid to do certain areas. They do their spot, but there are other spots we have to come in and do,” Dennis said.

Benton said jobs like spraying Round-Up, putting mulch out or trimming shrubs cost thousands of dollars extra.

Board member Dustin Lisk asked Benton to speak about starting projects in June rather than July when the new fiscal year begins. Benton said in a previous position, the school board requested the money upfront with contracts and paid the money when the new fiscal year opened.

Lisk said SCS has outgrown the Central Office space in Stanly Commons, for which they pay rent to the county for $89,291 per year. Dennis has been asked to look for a new space.

Dennis said the problem with the current space is not having privacy for protected conversions with and regarding students under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Benton said the offices do not have hot water, and have not for several years, to his understanding.

County Manager Andy Lucas said he was not aware of such.

“That has to be communicated to me so I can communicate with our facilities guy,” Lucas said.

Dennis also mentioned the county’s director of community engagement, Melissa Smith, has taken another position.

“I may not replace that position,” Dennis added.

Commissioner Peter Asciutto asked Lucas how much property taxes would have to go up to fully fund the school’s request. Lucas said a $0.1619 increase would fund the request, meaning a $175,000 home would pay $283 per year more in property taxes. For a $225,000 home, it would be $364, and for a $300,000 home it would be $486 more.

For a business valued at $5 million, the increase would be $8,095 per year; $16,190 for a $10 million business; $40,475 per year for a $25 million business; and $161,900 for a $100 million business.

“My charge from the county board of commissioners is bring you a budget that doesn’t raise taxes,” Lucas said. “I have to balance that against their needs … I’m doing my best to try to balance your needs, the sheriff’s needs, 911’s needs, the community college’s needs, our IT, cybersecurity and facility needs. We have our aging facilities, too.”

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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