THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
The Edgecombe County Board of Education passed a $59,996,795 interim budget for fiscal year 2013-2014 at its meeting Monday night.
The passage of the interim budget resolution allows the district to continue its operations on July 1. The budget reflects a decrease of nearly $10 million compared to the 2012-2013 budget — $69,088,119.
Once the General Assembly and the county commissioners pass their budgets, Edgecombe County Public Schools (ECPS) will present a final budget resolution to the board for approval, most likely in August or mid-September.
At a June 10 county commissioners meeting the district asked commissioners to fund them at their current funding level – $6,984,909 – for the upcoming fiscal year. The commissioners will vote on their budget today at 2 p.m.
“We can’t make decisions until we know how much funding they’re going to provide,” ECPS Superintendent John Farrelly said. “I think we made a strong case to continue to support us at the same level.”
The district’s interim budget includes 31 positional cuts and if ECPS’ funding is reduced at the local or state level, it could mean more staff reductions.
“Obviously, there would have to be consideration of cutting central office staff, maintenance and other classified positions,” Farrelly said. “I just hope we don’t have the impact of suffering more cuts.”
“My goal is to not cut more personnel, so that is a definite priority,” Farrelly added.
At its April meeting, the board approved a proposed budget totaling $61,766,532 and reflecting $1.5 million in cuts, including 10 classroom teacher positions,16 teacher assistant positions, four Common Core curriculum coaches and one central office position. The district eliminated positions in last year’s budget, as well. In August 2012, ECPS cut 56 positions, including 12 classroom teachers and 12 teacher assistants.
One of the primary reasons for the cuts in staffing is a decline in the district’s average daily membership, resulting in part from the opening of the county’s first charter school last August – North East Carolina Prep School (NECP). Farrelly expects the charter school’s growth to continue to affect the district’s budget.
“There could be a next wave of charter school impact,” he said.
NECP anticipates an enrollment of 900 students when its school year begins August 1.
Farrelly’s goal is to build up the number of students attending the county schools to get back the funding that has been lost from students leaving the district.
“The No. 1 way for us to keep students from leaving our schools is to improve student achievement,” Farrelly said.
The number of central office positions at ECPS has also been reduced in the past few years.
“The central office in the last three to five years have lost a significant amount of leaders and support staff,” Farrelly said. Four or five directors’ positions have been cut in the past three or four years.
“It’s really spread responsibilities out for several of our directors,” Farrelly said.
Another concern with the budget cuts is the need for upgrades to the school buildings in the district.
“Outside of Princeville and Pattillo, all of our schools are about the same age – 40 to 50 years old,” said the school superintendent. Princeville and Pattillo were rebuilt after the flood of 1999.
Farrelly said he would like to work with the board to develop a long-term facility plan, as the district is not in a financial position to implement an immediate facility plan.
“We may have some more flexibility with how we can use North Carolina lottery money, for capital outlay (building maintenance, renovation and new construction) and technology,” Farrelly said. About 50 percent of ECPS’ budget is used for maintaining buildings.