Schools Facing Hard Choices
The Moore County school system is bracing for cuts in state funding as this year's arduous budgeting process comes to an end in Raleigh.
Superintendent Susan Purser said Thursday that so far, the school system has been notified only about a discretionary reduction of $1,885,605. The school system still does not know what the entire budgetary impact could be as the discretionary reduction is only one line item of the total.
Purser anticipates that the total number will be less than the $5 million in cuts that the system initially thought. Purser said it will still have an impact on personnel. She also cautioned that the economy could also impact next year's budget.
"We're not out of the woods yet," she said.
Purser said that number could change, but she fully expected it to remain in the millions.
Gov. Beverly Perdue was expected to sign the budget into law, though she wasn't completely satisfied with the document. The budget approved by the legislature is friendlier to education than what was originally proposed, but still contains significant cuts.
The budget mandates that local school districts protect class sizes in kindergarten through third grade, which cannot exceed 24 students. School districts are granted leeway about how cuts are made elsewhere -- grades 4 through 12.
Even though the estimated reduction for Moore County is less than expected, Purser said it is still too early to know if any teaching positions could be reinstated. In early June, the school system said it would cut 5 percent of its work force, including 90 teaching positions, in response to the legislature's budget proposals. It is also maintaining a soft hiring freeze.
The school district is utilizing federal stimulus money in hopes of keeping additional teaching positions from being cut.
Purser also directed the system to reroute $900,000 from the central administration's operations directly to the schools. Purser said she will continue to focus on supporting the classroom as the budget picture becomes more complete.
The Moore County school system has been proactive in preparing for state budget reductions, and has been discussing different scenarios for months. Purser said that has put the system in a better position than others that chose to wait to address the situation until now.
"I think our planning has been paying off," she said.
The delayed budget doesn't change the fact that the new school year is rapidly approaching. Purser said it's still "full steam ahead" and the district's 22 schools will be ready to go on Aug. 25.
"We'll be working rapidly as possible once we have concrete numbers," she said.
The state budget will impact community colleges. Richard Gough, vice president of business and administrative services at Sandhills Community College, said his school hasn't received any specific information on how it will be affected yet.
But he is expecting reductions, which could make things difficult now that the college's enrollment is surging.
"It's going to create internal pressures on the college," he said. "It just creates a lot of tension."
Contact John Krahnert III at 693-2473 or by e-mail at email@example.com
More like this story