Board plans for fewer resources due to limited funds

By Shelby Harrell Staff Writer | Jul 14, 2014

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.

School needs

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.

Comments (8)
Posted by: David Woody | Jul 14, 2014 10:03

The number of locally paid teachers is missing.  How many are there?



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Jul 14, 2014 10:48

"How many are there?" -- Funny.  If memory serves from a not so distant article, there are (were) 661 teachers in the Haywood County public school system.  (That kind of statistical garbage gets stuck in my head while I continue to have trouble remembering things like my wife's birthday!)



Posted by: Shelby Harrell | Jul 14, 2014 11:01

Sorry the number wasn't added correctly. There are 51 locally paid teachers — 35 regular teachers, and 16 lead teachers.



Posted by: Beth G. Johnson | Jul 14, 2014 13:50

Regardless of the number of locally paid teachers, the point of the article is that once again the state's General Assembly can not do its job on schedule.  July 1 is the start of the new fiscal year.  It is shameful that the state's budget is not ready on time.  Remember - re-elect NO one - the incumbents have had their chance.



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Jul 14, 2014 15:57

Ms. Johnson, I wish we could ALSO channel some of this "shameful the budget isn't ready on time" to the federal level -- where at times there isn't even a budget -- just "continuing resolutions".  And if the budget isn't balanced, then what good is a budget other than to say, "We're getting $X more into debt by our uncontrolled spending."  In other words, not even a budget stops our government from spending.  Somebody needs to take a stand to make the over-spending stop.  In my opinion, neither party has done well in this space.  It's PUBLIC money and PUBLIC debt.  The PUBLIC ought to demand a stop to the financial irresponsibility.

 



Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Jul 14, 2014 16:34

            There is no Constitutionally mandated means to balance the federal budget. States are a different story. Anyone with a lick of sense and reading comprehension and a rudimentary knowledge of OUR history would know that.

              Personally I suggest a tax hike to meet the needs of OUR local public schools. This should be on property and progressively so.

               I don't mind paying for essential services and OUR public schools are just that.

 

                C.Z. 



Posted by: Doris Hammett | Jul 14, 2014 20:11

               To:  Superintendent Anne Garrett

 

            Thank you for informing the Haywood County Board of Education and the people of Haywood County the problems that a local school system has with the uncertainties related to the North Carolina General Assembly indecision of how much each school system will receive and how much this amount may be changed over last year.  This is compounded by the directives from that federal government in which they give unfunded mandates which the schools have to provide to receive any federal grants.

            Haywood County is comfortable that the Board of Education will make the best decisions for our students.  However, these decisions may prevent our students from the education they deserve.  The administrative staff is looking carefully at what will receive the highest priority.  The total funding will be federal, state, grants and awards for the schools and their classes. In that we know that Haywood County will not receive sufficient money to provide the funds for the teacher’s salaries, assistant teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, security cameras and other supplies.

            Knowing this, I propose that the citizens of Haywood County determine that our students will have the education that they need to perform at their highest level and start on this program now.  I propose that the Board of Education pass a resolution:

 

Whereas, Haywood County Board of Education has studied the needs of our students

 and in that when all the funding available from federal, state, county, grants and other sources are considered, this amount is not sufficient to provide the education that we desire for our students in our public schools.

            We ask the parents, school staff, supporters of each school, the communities in which these schools are located, the businesses, clubs, organizations including the Chamber of Commerce, city mayors and councils, community organization and individuals to contribute funds for the many projects needed for excellence in education.

 

            With this leadership we can prepare for the school year 2014-2015 and thereafter.

 

Doris Hammett



Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Jul 19, 2014 09:47

          Hear! Hear!

 

           C.Z.



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