Board plans for fewer resources due to limited funds
The uncertainties with the state budget allocation and a county appropriation that was an increase, but far less than requested has prompted the Haywood County Board of Education members to think about finances for the 2014-15 school year.
During a recent work session, Superintendent Anne Garrett told the school board what resources schools would likely have to do without in the coming year.
In April, school officials gave a presentation requesting $1.1 million from the county, a 6.87 percent increase. While the commissioners were sympathetic, they followed a funding formula adopted a decade ago, which provided for a 2.33 percent budget increase.
Nearly 60 percent of the schools' budget depends on state funding. Last year, the final budget numbers weren't ready until August, which makes budget planning difficult.
Large-ticket items such as how much will be needed to cover teacher salaries, are still being debated in Raleigh. While the state covers most teacher salaries, Haywood County has about approximately 51 locally paid teachers who are on the state salary schedule, and will receive the equivalent pay hike granted statewide.
Last year, Haywood schools received 38 million in state funding, which was a reduction of about $788,000.
While school officials are playing the waiting game with the state, they are also figuring out what budget items may have to be eliminated entirely.
Garrett said the request to hire two new exceptional children teachers would have to be reduced to one because Joan Ferrara, EC director, can only afford to fund one on her own.
In addition, the system likely will not be getting another guidance counselor even though it’s needed.
“We could not find the funds for that — we looked up and down,” Garrett said. “We don’t have the state budget yet so there’s a possibility that we could squeeze another position out of there, but there’s no guarantee right now.”
Two half-time assistant teachers are also needed, Garrett said, and these positions are nonnegotiable because three elementary schools are maxed out with 500 students and require extra help. The assistants likely will be funded by the state.
Two additional elementary school teachers are also needed, and Garrett said she is hoping that the state funding may also cover those salaries.
A new social worker is also needed, and Garrett will be able to afford that additional salary by using Title 1 funds and a grant.
“It’s something we work with everyday because we are constantly looking at resources that are available,” Garrett said.
While acquiring new teachers and a social worker is attainable, the school system has to do without a RTI (Response to Intervention) coach. The RTI program is an approach that helps identify and support the students with learning and behavior needs
“The state doesn’t even give you funds for those positions,” Garrett said. “There is no way we can take that out of local (funds).”
Lead teachers will continue to be paid using Title II funds, Garrett said.
In addition, the school system is hopeful that its technology director, Todd Trantham, may be able to come up with about $23,000 for new security cameras. The school is also planning to shell out about $7,500 to pay for software, supplies and postage.
“Those are things we have to have in order to function as a school,” Garrett said.
The school system is still planning to fund a 1/2 percent employee supplement increase, but it is still undecided where that money will come from. It’s a topic that can be discussed in the finance committee after the state budget is released, Garrett said. The supplement increase is going to cost about $227,000.
Both Garrett and Associate Superintendent Bill Nolte emphasized the idea that the entire budget was tentative and subject to change whenever the state funding comes in.
“We really won't know how good off or how bad off we are until until we get the state budget,” Nolte said.