School board approves $67.4 million budget

Published 7:25 pm Friday, June 30, 2017

Beaufort County Board of Education passed a $67.4 million operational budget for fiscal year 2017-18 at Thursday’s meeting.

The board also approved a $456,000 budget for capital expenses, which includes school maintenance, safety and security, technology and equipment. As was expected, board members once again faced the prospect of providing necessary services with less money.

The majority of Beaufort County Schools’ funding comes from the state level, a total estimated to be around $41 million. That number was not nailed down until the North Carolina General Assembly overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto and passed its budget Thursday.

Beaufort County Schools’ second-largest funding source is allotted by the Board of Commissioners, who agreed to a 2.7-percent increase in funding on June 12 for fiscal year 2017-18. The commissioners awarded $14,587,005 for current expenses, $330,195 of in-cash capital funds, $659,700 for financed capital and a one-time $125,000 allotment for technology improvements.

At Thursday’s meeting, Superintendent Dr. Don Phipps also announced that the school district would receive $100,000 from bond forfeitures, broken up into $5,000 a month over 20 months. That money goes into the general fund, and a percentage of it is then shared with charter schools, he said. Per state law, BCS must pay out a total of $810,000 to charter schools in 2017-18.

During this fiscal year, which begins today, the state will allot $19.4 million to classroom teacher positions, while the local budget allots another $1.48 million. The state will also provide $1.65 million to teaching assistant positions, with the local level providing $378,825, according to budget documents.

Roughly half of the money from the federal government can be attributed to Title I funds, given to rural school districts with a high percentage of low-income families, according to the documents.

With regard to the capital budget, Director of Auxiliary Services Stan Hudson said he is also facing whittled-down capital funds again this year.

According to the budget, the commissioners are financing the purchase of two activity buses, as well as a $80,000 land purchase for a planned soccer complex at Washington High School. The commissioners agreed to finance a total of $659,700 for these and other capital projects.

The largest capital expense for 2017-18 involves $350,000 for system-wide technology updates. These updates could involve anything from equipment maintenance to Chromebooks, according to Phipps.

“It just looks like such a big number,” Vice Chair Carolyn Walker said.

Phipps said that number is the absolute lowest the school district could go to cover the cost of technology. The original request was for $400,000.

“We will work hard to be prudent and transparent with the funds we have been allocated for all areas. We will prioritize needs to address areas that require immediate expenditures and strive to cover as many areas of service as possible, given the amounts provided from our various funding sources,” Phipps wrote in an email.

“With ever increasing accountability and other demands, I am proud of the work our system has done in an environment of diminishing resources.”

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the Board of Education approved a $2.1 million capital budget. The board approved a $456,000 budget. We are happy to set the record straight.