Guilford Co. Schools one step closer to a final budget

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Guilford County School system is one step closer to a final budget.

The Guilford County Board of Education approved Superintendent Mo Green’s recommended budget for 2014-2015 with some changes. The new budget will be given to the County Manager for consideration.

The BOE voted to add a request for about $131,000 to increase the board’s compensation. The increase would make their pay equal to that of County Commissioners.

Superintendent Mo Green said that particular item was a split vote, but ultimately the request was added to the budget. He said some BOE members spoke up, feeling it was an untimely request with the system’s other needs being considered.

The BOE also removed one of Superintendent Green’s recommendations to reduce work days for teacher assistants and paraprofessionals. Green said they’d have to make up that reduction in other ways.

Green said his focus is getting more funding for things like operations, salaries and maintenance.

At Joyner Elementary, Principal Denise Ebbs shared several ways the budget is impacting their school. For example, she said a few years ago they had five tutors. Now they have one, and they are having to cut her hours next year.

“She works 30 weeks about 18 hours a week, and next year we’ve cut her down to 20 weeks,” Ebbs explained.

She will have time to work with some kindergarten, first and second graders. No tutors will be paid to work with the older students who are struggling. Ebbs said it could certainly impact how many children are “held back” a grade if they can’t get caught up with the rest of their class.

She also eliminated their technology assistant position next year because of budget reductions. There will not be a person in charge of computer equipment, the lab and the school website.

“So a lot of those responsibilities are going to fall on the hands of the teachers now and our media specialists,” she explained.

Green said in a press update today, “We’re reaching a point where I believe we can’t do more with less.”

At the same time, the school system expects flat funding from the state this year. State dollars account for about sixty percent of the overall school budget in Guilford County. About 33% comes from the local level, and nearly 7 percent comes from federal funds.

The Board of County Commissioners will decide whether to increase local funding for schools. The County Manager, Marty Lawing, said he will review the BOE’s recommended budget and plans to meet with Mo Green this week.

Lawing could not yet say whether he would recommend increasing funds for GCS. He will present his budget proposal next Thursday. The County Commission is required to vote on a final budget by July 1st.

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