Rockingham County Schools considering tough cuts to balance budget

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EDEN, N.C. -- The Rockingham County school system is considering some tough cuts to balance next year's budget.

Superintendent Dr. Rodney Shotwell says they need to cut about $4.1 million

Budget materials:

The most recent plan the Board of Education is considering would involve ten furlough days, cutting ten teacher assistant days, and eliminating some positions such as media assistants.

"I haven’t slept very well at all," Shotwell told FOX8. "I mean it’s not like I’m making these decisions and I never see these folks. I’m making decisions about my neighbors. People that I’m working with here."

But, he said, unless the state or county can offer more money for the budget, they have to cut closer and closer to the classroom. "We’ve cut down to the bone now," he added.

County Manager Lance Metzler says the county just doesn't have any more money to spare.

"If we reduce elsewhere any more, we will have to cut services," he added. "Do we want to go without the animal shelter? The libraries? The book mobile? What services do you want to go without? It will really hurt our customers who depend on these services."

But he does know of one solution, in the form of proposed Senate Bill 369. It would reallocate how much each county gets from sales tax revenue. Currently, the formula is based mostly on how much shopping and sales happen in each county. The proposed new formula would be based on per capita.

Senate Bill 369:

"Twenty counties would see an impact that would be negative. Eighty counties would see an impact that would be positive. For Rockingham County, it would be about $5.6 million in additional revenue which would fill the gap needed for the schools."

And possibly a little extra for the community college, he added. Not every county is on-board, but more rural areas could stand to benefit.

Shotwell also pointed out that while student enrollment has declined at RCS, this year he paid nearly $5 million more total for employee retirement match and health insurance. That's compared to 2007, despite 20 percent fewer employees compared to then.