GCS budget goes unchallenged
Commissioners did not challenge Friday $23 million in increases county school officials want next year. Superintendent Mo Green wants the Board of Commissioners to provide $189.2 million, up $13.6 million, to fund a $5.9 million increase in school operations, an increase of $3.4 million to cover a salary increase for all employees, and an additional $3.2 million to restore cuts made as a result of the Great Recession. “We need additional resources to do the things we do well,” Green said during a budget workshop attended by six Board of Education members.
The district also wants $10 million in county funding for maintenance, upgrades and support for school buildings and property.
Commissioners asked questions about class sizes, teaching assistants and school security, but no commissioner said that it was unlikely that the district would get the increases Green has proposed. The budget would increase the student-teacher ratio by .25 percent in grades K-12 at a cost to the county of $3.2 million for 63 teachers.
Green said many of the teachers would go to the fourth and fifth grades where the ratio of 26.25 students to a teacher is second highest only to the high school ratio of 27.25 students per teacher.
“Our ratio is in the ballpark with the other large districts we use for comparisons,” Green said. “We had gradually increased class sizes, and not all of them are at the levels we want.”
Funding raises would depend on what state legislators provide for state workers and teachers, Green said.
“We have to provide the local part of a 3 percent raise that has been discussed so far,” Green said.
Two of the most expensive measures to improve school security would be renovating buildings and providing school resource offices for elementary schools.
“There would be a substantial amount of money involved in renovating the schools,” Green said.
Green has proposed a $400,000 professional security audit to help district leaders decide what measures would be the most effective. The district formed a security task force within a month after the December 2012 school shootings in Newtown, Conn. Republican Commissioner Alan Branson suggested looking at emergency response times for police officers and security at free-standing cafeterias and other buildings on school campuses.
“Response time at four to five minutes may be too long,” Branson said.
“That time would be zero if we had SROs at the elementary schools,” Green said. “We have to have a conservation about that.”
2014 GCS Budget
Operating Expenses: $629 million with nearly 7 percent coming from the federal government, nearly 62 percent coming from the state and 31.2 percent from Guilford County.
Total Budget: $706 million
Local funds: Over the past three years, the district has requested $13.9 million in increased county funding, but has not received it. Meanwhile, the district has absorbed $19.1 million in increased costs.