Mary Katherine Murphy
Scotland County school can expect to lose more than $3 million in state funding, the system’s new finance officer told the Scotland County Board of Education.
Jay Toland, who officially began work on March 27, replacing Tony Messer, gave the board a preview Monday night of the forecast for the 2012-2013 school year.
A $991,000 reduction in state Average Daily Membership funding represents more than 100 children, and a proposed $312,000 increase in the discretionary reduction will bring the total reduction close to $2.2 million, Toland said. In addition, the cost of providing mandatory employee benefits is expected to rise.
“There are some state-mandated employee benefit increases: health insurance and the matching retirement, both of those are expected to be five percent,” said Toland.
These funding reductions will require the schools to find ways to trim excess spending elsewhere.
“We’ve realized some custodial savings and some energy management savings,” Toland said. “Those aren’t actual dollars coming in, but what’s happening is we’re not going to have to allot more money to those specific line items.”
Including $10 million in county appropriations and $1.7 million in appropriated school board fund balance, revenues budgeted total nearly $13 million.
“We used $1.7 million in fund balance to save as many positions as possible,” Toland said. “We’re using local funds to pay for 44 teachers: 43 regular and 1 CTE.”
Capital outlay revenues totaling $1.3 million, from fines and forfeitures, education lottery funds, and ADM, will cover projects such as a roof replacement at Sycamore Lane Middle School, payment of $300,000 toward debt incurred for new classrooms at Wagram Primary School, and the replacement of a chiller at Scotland High School.
In other business, the school system’s finance staffers: Linda Smith, Debbie Lawrence, Laura Beth Urie, Renee Sunderland, and Sharon Baldwin were recognized by Andy Cagle, school public information officer, for awards won by their annual financial report.
“It’s a great thing for our citizens and taxpayers to know that Scotland County Schools is a responsible steward of money and that we’re committed to letting everyone know how we’re spending taxpayer dollars,” Cagle said.
The report won Certificate of Excellence awards from the N.C. Association of School Business Officials and the N.C. Government Finance Officers’ Association for the second year running.
The board also viewed a presentation by South Scotland Elementary School’s Lighthouse Team on the school’s “Leader in Me” program, a curriculum based upon “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey.
Superintendent Rick Stout shared his experience at a meeting between N.C. school superintendents and the State Board of Education on April 3.
“I was one of the speakers for the Sandhills region and I was very candid in our conversations about fiscal and discretionary cuts and the impact it’s had on Scotland County,” Stout said. “We were very encouraged that somebody’s going to listen to us.
Stout said that his account of operations in Scotland County left an impact in Raleigh, which will hopefully resonate when fiscal decisions are made.
“The discretionary cut is always a sizable cut – we’ve lost over six million dollars in the last four or five years,” said Stout. “They needed to know what was going on in our school system as well as our community… There weren’t too many in the General Assembly that did not hear what we had to say that day.”