The Moore County Commissioners heard the annual request for school funding at their regular meeting Tuesday evening. Now, commissioners must balance the needs of public education, always mindful that increased spending puts pressure on property tax rates.
As in the past, commissioners were reminded that funding for education in North Carolina is a complex matter made up of money from several sources: county, state and federal. Most of the funding for public school education in North Carolina comes from the state. Funding from the federal government and each county make up the total education budget.
Chart created by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter John Patota.
Tuesday evening, Moore County Schools Superintendent Dr. Bob Grimesey went in front of the county commissioners to request $34 million for operating and capital expenses. Of that, $3 million is required to be set aside for an increasing number of students enrolled in Moore County’s charter schools.
The trend in the past year has been an increased enrollment for charter schools and more students being homeschooled, while the number of students attending Moore County schools has dropped. Some see reduced enrollment in public education as troublesome for local school budgets, as state funding is determined by the number of students.
Some on the school board have tried to tie local funding on a per-pupil basis, seeing it as a way for county commissioners and school leaders to agree on a formula that would add a greater amount of certainty when planning for future budgets. However, this budget request was not determined based on per-pupil costs, school officials said.
The superintendent’s proposed operating budget for 2021-22 includes an increase of $2.1 million over the current year. Of that, $1.6 million for salary increases is intended for classified, non-teacher positions like bus drivers, custodians and maintenance staff. The rest is to cover raises for those teachers not covered by state funding and other increases in operating costs.
Salaries increases for classified staff have been discussed in recent years but have not come up for consideration because of budget concerns. This year, some county commissioners seem to want to consider a small increase in salaries for people that work outside the classroom.
The proposed budget includes additional monies from the federal government. Moore County Schools is expected to receive $30 million in one-time coronavirus relief funding over the next three years. The money can be used for facility repairs, summer learning programs and educational technology.
Allowable uses of these funds also include staff training, mental health services and school nutrition. The school district must apply for these funds before the program expires in 2024.
Next, county commissioners will hear county manager Wayne Vest’s recommended budget on May 18 and will then hold a public hearing on the manager’s proposed budget on June 15. A date for approval of the entire county budget has not been set.
Feature photo: Tuesday evening, Moore County Schools Superintendent Dr. Bob Grimesey went in front of the county commissioners to request $34 million for operating and capital expenses.
~Article and photo by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter John Patota.