Against a backdrop of declining state and county tax revenues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Moore County Schools proposed an 11 percent spending increase next year in a presentation to the Moore County Commissioners at their regular meeting Tuesday.
The county commissioners listened to school leaders during the virtual online meeting and voted unanimously to dissolve a policy that tied school spending to 40 percent of revenue collected by the county. Rescinding this measure clears the way for school funding to be reduced.
The commissioners cited the 2019 tax hike to support education and the school bond referendum, money not included in the percentage, as reasons for their decision. They also noted that in recent years the money used for education had been over the 40 percent mark.
The county commissioners, not the school board, has the final say in how much funding is allocated for education in Moore County. School spending will again be discussed next month in a commissioners’ meeting on May 19 then voted on after a public hearing on June 16, as required by law.
In response to a question, school officials could not identify any cost savings that could be realized as a result of the state-wide order closing schools more than a month ago. It was also learned that school buses are being used across the district for food distribution.
In March, the school board conducted a virtual public hearing to gather input before deciding on their proposed budget. As has been the case in recent years, teachers, parents and employees made passionate arguments urging the Moore County Board of Education to add more classroom teachers, and this year, provide salary increases for support staff.
As a result of that meeting, the school board voted to request $36.1 million in local funding beginning in July 2020, a $3.5 million increase from the year before. The total proposed budget is $133 million.
All county commissioner’s meetings will be conducted as virtual online meetings until the foreseeable future. Meetings are made available for viewing in real-time. The public is able to view the meetings on their computer, tablet or smartphone. Members of the public are able to provide input according to the county’s public comment policy. For more information, visit the county’s website.
~Article and photo by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter John Patota.