The Moore County Board of Commissioners approved the funding formula for Moore County Schools during their meeting on Tuesday.
Moore County Schools Superintendent Tim Locklear and School Board Chairman Bob Levy attended the meeting.
The formula presented provides $1,701,623 more in the current fiscal year (FY24.) This is based on 38.5% of budgeted property and sales tax and includes current expenses, capital outlay, digital learning, Sandhills Center pass-through, a health nursing grant and does not include debt service. It also does not include Article 46 sales tax.
In 2007, the General Assembly enacted several stipulations, including giving counties the option to “levy a local and sales and use tax at a rate of one-quarter percent.” Article 46 is the section in state law where the rules for this particular tax are outlined.
Commission Chairman Nick Picerno explained that the school district, under a previously passed resolution, knows what will be received. He said, “The formula can work and work well.”
The formula was approved in 2016, with the schools at 40%, but they couldn’t get the school board to sign off on it, so it was rescinded. But this time, the school board beat the commissioners — they already approved the 38.5%.
Picerno said many people don’t realize that the state doesn’t expect school districts, such as Moore County, to contribute to their schools’ operation and expenses, but facilities expenses are the responsibility of county governments.
He said, “We know we have local teaching positions here, which drives up the cost of local spending.” He also pointed out that education is a top priority, and the proposal under discussion takes that into account.
There was a proposal that, just taking last year’s school budget and adding for inflation and the General Assembly’s pay raises, and if this had gone into effect in 2011, the schools would be running an annual multimillion-dollar deficit, which would put them seriously in the hole. As inflation increased, the schools received more money, but “this was not a perfect funding formula.” If this plan had been put in place in 2011, however, the schools would be sitting on a multimillion-dollar fund surplus.
Under the resolution, schools would know at the beginning of the year what they would receive, so the county wouldn’t have to create a bond issue and get the county deeper into debt.
“History says this is a good formula, and it should help build surpluses, not deficits … and that’s why I recommend that the board approves this formula,” said Picerno.
One question was asked about whether or not it was legal to offer some sort of sign-on bonus for teachers. It is legal, and Title I money has been used for such sign-on bonuses, but they want to make sure that existing teachers don’t feel as if they’ve been abandoned … and this formula, Picerno said, will help to support all teachers and help to alleviate the teacher shortage.
The commissioners unanimously passed the resolution for the school funding formula.
Feature photo: The Moore County Board of Commissioners/Sandhills Sentinel.
~Written by Sandhills Sentinel reporter Steve Biddle.