LAURINBURG — In the hope of preempting budget squabbles with the county for at least another three years, on Monday the Scotland County Board of Education included a local funding agreement drafted over the last year by a group of board members and county commissioners.
Local current expense funding for 2014-2015 was agreed upon only by a mediation process days before the start of the fiscal year. That process also left the boards with a 2015-2016 funding total and instructions to form a joint committee to work out budgets well in advance.
That liaison committee, comprising school board members Jamie Sutherland, Pat Gates, and Darrel Gibson and county commissioners Whit Gibson, Carol McCall, and Bob Davis, have met monthly since July 2014. Last week, the committee settled upon an agreement that the full school board reviewed on Monday.
If the county commissioners approve the agreement, it will go into effect while the state statute that determines local funding to the Scotland County Schools remains in place.
“This provides an opportunity for a safeguard for us that nobody, the school board or county, will approach the legislators to try to get the law appealed or modified or changed in any way, then in turn allows either board the opportunity, if something crazy happens — the economy goes south in the county or the governor cuts our budget another $2 million — this gives us the opportunity to go back and have a conversation even though we have this agreement in place,” Sutherland said.
The agreement, which the school board approved unanimously, will reduce local funding to just under $10.6 million in 2016-2017 and to $10.3 million in 2017-2018. Capital funding for both years will be a minimum of $300,000.
“My hope is that what we began is a good working relationship between our two boards so we can move our community forward,” Gibson said.
The board also approved an alteration to its advertising policy to allow for video advertising on a new Pate Stadium scoreboard being donated to the schools by the Scotland County Athletic Booster Club this fall.
The policy will permit the use of video for advertising purposes, approved by Superintendent Ron Hargrave’s designee, only on the new scoreboard.
“What we’re talking about is the possibility of a television commercial, video for advertising purposes, like folks might see if they go to other sports venues — college or professional — that have this type of equipment,” said board attorney Nick Sojka. “The original policy was written at a time when really the only advertising contemplated was just the name of the firm and maybe some basic contact information and a basic description of whatever kind of goods and services the sponsor might offer.”
In other business on Monday, the board:
— Applauded Katherine Riggins as co-valedictorian of Scotland Early College High School’s 2015 graduating class. Riggins graduated as salutatorian, but finished with a GPA that qualified her for co-valedictorian honors.
— Recognized Abby Massey, an administrative employee in the school system’s auxiliary services department, as July’s key player.
— Approved a 2015-2016 capital outlay budget of $875,000, which provides for the repayment of $300,000 in debt incurred due to the expansion of Wagram Elementary and $200,000 in repairs to the HVAC system at Scotland High School.
— Approved a request to the county for $524,000 in supplemental capital, which would provide for $350,000 in heat pump replacements at Laurel Hill Elementary.
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.