Schools budget faces tough review

Mar. 29, 2013 @ 09:33 PM

It is unlikely that Schools Superintendent Mo Green will get all of the $22 million budget increase he wants, four county commissioners said Friday.
Green wants the money to hire more teachers next year, give employees a raise and increase the amount of money spent on maintaining school buildings. But the county is facing a $41 million shortfall and commissioner are feeling public pressure not to raise the property tax rate. Green presented his proposed $629 million 2013-14 operations budget Thursday to the Board of Education. Here is what the commissioners said:  

Bruce Davis, Democrat, High Point
“It is doubtful we will see an increase. We have to hold the line. We will have more discussions on the details. “

Bill Bencini, Republican, High Point
“I know there are needs and the superintendent wants more. I’m not sure that anybody will get what they want.”

Linda Shaw, Republican, board chairwoman.
“I don’t see how we can give the superintendent all he wants. I wish we could. There’s not much of a chance it will happen.”

Jeff Phillips, Republican, budget committee chairman.
“Unless there is a miracle on revenues, I don’t think it is likely we can do what he has requested. We could have a slight dip in revenues. We have a deficit of $41 million, so a $21.6 million addition is unlikely. “ 

Green called his request “conservative.” The proposed increased county funding and other cuts and redirections would balance the budget. Green said he wants:
• Raises — A 3 percent raise for employees at $3.4 million. They got a 1.2 percent raise this school year. 
• Teachers — Hiring 63 more teachers with $3.2 million and reducing class sizes slightly.
• Security — An outside evaluation of school security equipment and programs for $400,000.
• Maintenance — $10 million in county money on school maintenance and other capital projects. The school system got $2 million this year.
• Incentives — $903,000 in local money to continue the Mission Possible teacher incentive program.
• Catch up  — An additional $3.2 million to restore cuts made as a result of the Great Recession.
“During the past five years, our students and staff have endured budget cuts,
increased class sizes, reduced supplies and equipment, and the loss of critical administrative support for schools,” Green said. “Now, I believe it is time to seek adequate funding to support our students.”
The proposed budget lays out $13.2 million in potential reductions and redirections, including $1.8 million from the central office and departments and a cut of seven middle school literacy facilitators funded locally after the state stopped funding these positions in 2009-10 school year.
The budget uses $1.9 million from the fund balance, holds back $2.4 million for schools, holds back $3.3 million for student at-risk, student accountability and teacher mentor pay and holds back 10 percent of Title I funds for disabled students.
Grants total $25 million and would pay for computer tablets in middle schools at $11 million and teacher incentives at $5 million.

2014 GCS Budget
Operating Expenses:  $629 million, up 1.3 percent.

County funds: Superintendent Mo Green wants county commissioners to provide $189.2 million, up $13.6 million for operations to cover enrollment growth, increased expenses, to restore cuts and staff raises. The district needs an additional $8 million for maintenance and repairs for a total of $10 million.

Total Budget: $706 million

Workshops:  April 22 with public feedback at a hearing on April 30.