School district budget calls for 4.26 percent increase in local funding

BY ZACHARY HORNER, News + Record Staff
Posted 3/22/19

PITTSBORO — The Chatham County Board of Education is asking the county government for more funds this year as state and federal funding decreases.

The board approved a 4.26 percent increase …

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School district budget calls for 4.26 percent increase in local funding

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Posted

PITTSBORO — The Chatham County Board of Education is asking the county government for more funds this year as state and federal funding decreases.

The board approved a 4.26 percent increase request in local funding — totaling $35,781 million — from last year’s budget, further making Chatham one of the top districts in the state in relying on county funding.

According to district CFO Tony Messer, Chatham County is currently sixth in the state in county funding per pupil at $3,510, compared to 86th in state funding and 99th in federal funding out of 116 districts. Additionally, the district is projecting county-level funding will make up 35 percent of its budget, up from 33 percent in each of the last four years.

Because state funding, outside for teacher salaries, has been “flat the last couple years,” Messer said, having an increase in county funding has been crucial.

“It’s obvious that Chatham County supports its schools,” Messer said. “The commissioners believe in what we’re doing over here at the public school system. If we weren’t funded at this level, considering our federal funding and our state funding, then there are a lot of resources that would not be available for the students of the Chatham County Schools.”

The lion’s share of the increase is an $825,000 jump in employee salary supplements as the county shifts supplement pay from a flat rate to a percentage. Another large increase is in classroom teacher pay — $132,723, for a 3.36 percent jump — as part of more than 50 teachers that are paid entirely from local funds.

When the budget was presented at the March 11 school board meeting, both Messer and Superintendent Derrick Jordan said this would likely not be the final version of the district’s budget. Since the N.C. General Assembly has not yet passed a spending plan, the district will revisit the budget in the fall as part of a reconciliation process.

“The timing of this makes it a bit of a challenge when you consider there are so many unknowns,” Jordan said. “The General Assembly has not yet rolled out its budget, and it can be a quick process or an extended process. Dependent on what the final budget is from the state of North Carolina, there certainly could be some proposed changes.”

Among other changes are increases for utility payments (2.99 percent), non-instructional support personnel (1.91 percent), charter school subsidies (4.35 percent and school building administration (3.77 percent).

Most of the small increases, Messer said, were recommended by the state Department of Public Instruction, and nearby school districts will likely have similar increases in most areas.

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