Budget proposal seeks increased funds, reorganization in CCS


PITTSBORO — Investments yield outcomes.

That’s the pitch Chatham County Schools Superintendent Dr. Anthony Jackson is making to county commissioners this budget season. Last Tuesday, Jackson shared the proposed budget with the school board in the first official meeting at the new Chatham County Schools Central Services Office on Renaissance Drive in Pittsboro.

The proposal, which was approved unanimously by the Chatham County Board of Education, will now be sent to the Chatham County Board of Commissioners for final approval in the Fiscal Year 2023-2024 budget next month.

The $46.6 million proposal calls for an 8.04% annual increase in funds from the county to Chatham County Schools. That $4.9 million increase request is meant to cover several challenges facing the district including staffing shortages, the new Central Services building and the impending ESSER funding cliff.

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) funding was designed to address the safe reopening and sustaining of operations of schools and address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on students. Many of the deadlines for using those funds, though, are fast approaching with most ESSER funds set to expire by the beginning of 2024.

“The return on investment is real and evident,” Jackson told the board. “We don’t report to be perfect, but we are making progress. We know investments yield outcomes and we are making sure all our kids benefit from it.”

Tony Messer, CCS chief financial officer, broke down the budget for school board members on Tuesday. The significant line item budget changes are employee salary supplement, classroom teachers, instructional support, maintenance, charter school payments and school building administration, according to Messer.

Examining the line item breakdown of the proposed CCS budget, which compares the FY 2022-23 with the proposed FY 2023-24, there are some striking percentage changes in certain categories. For example, the proposal shows a 1393.13% increase for the finance & budget department in the new year and a 636% increase for middle school education services. Those increases sound startling, but Messer explained to the board that the daunting figures are really just a result of shuffling funds and consolidating line items to make the budget easier to read.

“We’ve budgeted areas to where they’re actually operating in,” Messer said. “Instead of having everything under Central Services, we put the salaries of the employees under those specific line items.”

Messer said this means the budget will better show departmental costs, and make the budget more understandable for the public. For example, the person in charge of middle school education services used to be categorized under “Central Services,” but the restructuring of the budget better shows which departments are allocated which funds.

The board agreed with this interpretation. Chairperson Gary Leonard said this approach “cleans up” the budget. 


The board also unanimously approved its FY 2023-2024 proposed Capital Outlay Budget, totaling $2.3 million. Projects under the COB are one-time expenditures with the goal of addressing school-level needs. Approved projects include AC unit replacements at Margaret Pollard Middle School, a new alarm system at George Moses Horton Middle School and roof replacement at Jordan-Matthews High School.

CCS Assistant Superintendent for Operations Chris Blice presented the COB to the board. He said several projects not approved under the COB could seek funds from grants and other avenues. COB projects are also funded through the county, and final approval comes from the county’s board of commissioners.

County commissioners will meet for its budget workshops throughout the month, with final approval of the budget expected by June 20. The next Chatham Board of Education meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m on Monday, May 8. The meeting will be held at the new Chatham County Schools Central Services Office in the Board Room located at 468 Renaissance Drive in Pittsboro.

Reporter Ben Rappaport can be reached at or on Twitter @b_rappaport

Chatham County Board of Education, budget, ESSER funding, Capital Outlay Budget, FY 2023-2024