LAURINBURG – The Scotland County Board of Education learned this week that a proposed school consolidation plan will save the system $2.8 million.
Those savings will come in part through reducing the size of the school system’s staff. That will be achieved, as Superintendent Ron Hargrave assured the board on Monday, through attrition — as existing employees retire, the schools will not replace them.
Last year’s closure of the Washington Park and Pate-Gardner elementary schools saved the school system 12 positions for the current school year, according to Finance Officer Jay Toland.
For licensed or contract staff, the average salary is $58,000. Toland said that with consolidation, 33 positions can be saved, totaling $1,914,000.
Four positions, considered classified or non-contractual employees, with an average salary of $40,000 would save $160,000. The total savings between these two groups would be $2,074,000.
The next group was custodial, which can be reduced as the total square footage of the school system would shrink. Approximately 251,120 square feet would be eliminated through closure of existing buildings, and 130,000 square feet would be added with a new school.
Savings can also be found in transportation, at $24,525 per school. By closing five buildings the district will save $122,625. Toland said the system can maximize buses’ capacity and run more efficiently by picking up more children at each stop, as there are fewer school buildings.
Utilities savings will be $347,832, based on actual utilities spent at each school taken from the audit reports. But there will be $47,545 added back in for expansions at Sycamore Lane and Laurel Hill.
Supply cost will decrease as well because there will be fewer classrooms. The estimated savings through the consolidation for supplies is $220,608.
Contracted services for maintenance will decrease by $38,500. The average mowing contract is $6,000, so by closing five buildings, there will be a savings of $30,000. An additional $8,500 will be saved by eliminating the contracts with fire extinguishers and HVAC filters.
“If you add all that up it comes to $2.8 million in savings,” said Toland.
Toland noted the accelerated decrease in the school system’s enrollment, which determines the amount of money allocated to the district by the state government.
Enrollment projections predict a decrease in student enrollment from 2017 through 2024.
Maria D. Grandy can be reached at 910-506-3171.