County votes to give Polk Schools $300k more next year

Published 8:54 am Friday, April 15, 2011

Having received word that the state is looking at a 9-percent cut in school funding next fiscal year, Polk County commissioners approved giving the schools $300,000 additional funding.
The county board met Monday, April 4 and unanimously approved granting the additional funding. The school board informally requested $300,000 from the county in January.
Commissioner Ted Owens said last week that he understands the N.C. House of Representatives is ready to submit its budget proposal for next year and it sounds like the House is presenting a 9-percent cut in school funding. He suggested the county go ahead and grant the additional funding so the school system can propose its budget.
Commissioner chairman Ray Gasperson said he thinks there is broad support for the county to assist the schools. Commissioner Tom Pack said he thinks the school system is in the same position as the county in not knowing what the state revenues will be next year.
County manager Ryan Whitson said he has already included the funding in the county’s budget proposal for next year, which begins July 1.
Pack also asked the county last week to look at other cuts so the county can consider helping the school system pay for repairs to the well system at Polk Central School.
The county previously considered running county water lines to Polk Central so the school system would not have to make state-required repairs estimated at $30,000 – $40,000, but decided not to run the lines immediately. The school board requested that the county put higher priority on funding programs and teachers immediately rather than running public water lines.
Polk County School Superintendent Bill Miller presented a budget proposal to commissioners in January that assumed a 10-percent cut in state funding. The school system plans to use money it has on hand, along with the county’s additional funding and approximately $150,000 in reductions, to make up for the state shortfall.
The school system has leftover federal stimulus money as well as fund balance to handle next year’s state shortfall. If the state’s trend continues, however, school officials have said that money cannot continue to be taken out of fund balance. In addition, the stimulus money was a one-time allotment and will no longer be available.
The county currently budgets $4,547,054 for the school system. With an additional $300,000, the county anticipates funding Polk County Schools over $487,000.
Polk County Schools’ total budget is approximately $26 million, which includes federal and state funding, grants and local funding. The state normally funds the school approximately $16 million annually.
Polk County has 2,400 students plus 152 enrolled in pre-school. Current facilities and buildings have no major needs in the near future, Miller told commissioners earlier this year.

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