State projects 5-10 percent school funding cut

Published 2:08 pm Friday, December 17, 2010

Polk County Schools Superintendent Bill Miller and staff wait with bated breath to see what a projected 15 percent statewide shortfall means for local schools.

North Carolina predicts a budget shortfall of 15 percent next year, 5-10 percent of which could get cut from school funding.

Obviously we will have to take our share of that reduction, Miller said. But who knows how that all will play out?

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Over the last two years, Polk County Schools faced reductions of 5-7 percent.

Our approach really was a comprehensive one, Miller said. We looked for ways to eliminate little things here and little things there that the schools didnt want to let go of but didnt have to have.

Miller said if you look at the overall picture of the system that certainly means fewer teachers and fewer teacher assistants. It also means the system can no longer afford to pitch in half the cost of tuition for teachers working to obtain their masters degrees. The cuts also slash monies available for staff development and textbooks.

The problem being thats all been done and in the future if we face additional cuts, well have to get more creative, Miller said.

It does not, Miller said, mean the system will allow a drop in the quality of education afforded each student.

We, for example, have not reduced our music programs, our art programs, our athletic programs, he said.

Miller added the continued support of the Polk County Board of Commissioners kept the system from dire straits. He said while the commission didnt allocate additional funds last budget, it also didnt reduce allocations to the schools.

Meanwhile, the state board of education recently required an update on facility needs of all county school systems. The board requires systems to submit the needs survey every five years. Miller said, not surprisingly, Polk County did not have any requests for new facilities to be constructed.

Our things are all about upkeep of our schools, Miller said.

Most of Polk Countys facility list includes maintenance of buildings such as roof replacement, painting and heating and air updates.