Next year’s budget for Dare County Schools discussed at workshop

Published 9:50 am Saturday, May 6, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Dare County Schools Superintendent Steve Basnight proclaimed that next year’s system budget is concentrating on learning in the classroom, recruiting and retaining teachers and security.

Basnight explained that the state sends money in specific bundles for the 39 specific program items in the operating budget.

For example, Program 28 is labeled Staff Development. For 14 years, North Carolina has not funded that program. Instead, the Dare system has used local funds. For fiscal year 2023, the system’s budget allocated $4,500. This year, the allocation is $150,000.

Get the latest headlines sent to you

Basnight said the budget item will provide staff with the training resources to be successful. Funding will be allocated to each school for staff development and for district-wide training events and convocation.

At the workshop, financial consultant Anna McGinnis provided the budget numbers.

First, the operating budget is divided among the 39 different programs and six appendices covering the capital improvement plan, the capital outlay request, school nutrition, after-school program and proposed student fees.

School nutrition and the after school enrichment programs are enterprise programs, meaning that the programs’ revenue must cover expenses.

The budget process starts in the schools and in stand-alone departments.

Schools and departments start with projected enrollment and expenditure history.

School leaders solicit requests from staff and other stakeholders.

Requests are evaluated by directors of instruction, maintenance and technology. The superintendent and assistant superintendent review staffing requests.

Next, projected revenues are calculated. The state’s Department of Public Instruction thinks that Dare County will have an enrollment of 5,036 students for the fiscal year 2024.

The school system’s budget shows Dare County schools will receive $38,386,986 from North Carolina.

Federal funding is projected at $4.925 million, which is called “flat.”

Dare County’s contribution to the operation of the schools for the fiscal year stands at $26,895,243.

The contribution is calculated by the school funding formula, which was negotiated between Dare’s boards of commissioners and education. The formula has eliminated budget battles between the two boards and is highly regarded throughout North Carolina.

McGinnis repeatedly expressed appreciation to Dare County for its allocation to the schools. In her presentation, McGinnis reported “no increases requested outside the formula.”

Increases include a “talked-about” 5% salary increase for teachers, administrators, support staff; insurance premiums projected to increase from $7,397 to $7,619 per person; and the retirement rate projected to move to $24.62% from 24.50%.

The Dare County’s school funding formula has four sections for adjustment:

– Adjusted for projected General Assembly action, salaries, health insurance, retirement contributions, as indicated above; additional funding of $1,024,352

– Adjusted for student enrollment and CPI (instructional supplies, technology, postage, books), totaling $72,289

– Adjusted for CPI and rate increases, (such as utilities, insurance, equipment, transportation), totaling $438,487.

– Adjustment factor: Subtract 11.80% to account for local revenue derived from other sources as well as the prior year actual to budget variance. This additional funding calculated using the formula totals $1,353,987.

Dare County Schools total budget for the 2024 fiscal year is $72,550,107.

In Program 001, Classroom Teachers, the state funds 198.5 positions and Dare County 78.5 positions in this year’s budget. The draft budget shows using local funds to pay seven more classroom teachers, costing $1.330 million.

About this item, the draft document states “Local funding for instructional positions shows an increase in anticipation of the expiration of the ESSER funds over the next two years.”

Dare school board is expected to take up the budget at its meeting on May 8 at 5 p.m. in the commissioners meeting room at 954 Marshall C. Collins Dr. in Manteo.

North Carolina General Statute 115C-428(b) states “Before submitting the budget to the board of county commissioners, the board of education may hold a public hearing at which time any persons who wish to be heard on the school budget may appear.”

The indication at the end of the workshop was that the board is expected to adopt the budget at the May 8, 2023 meeting.