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Guilford County Schools redirects $22.4M to balance budget

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Mo Green

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Guilford County Board of Education approved the final budget for the 2013-14 school year at its meeting on Thursday, redirecting about $22.4 million in an effort to balance the $612.9 million budget.

During the budget discussion, the Board voted to take $400,000 that was allocated for a facilities audit focusing on safety and security, and $200,000 that was allocated for a disparity study, and redirect the funds to restore work days for teacher assistants and paraprofessionals.

The state reduced funding for those employees by $5.6 million. In July, in order to address that cut, the Board approved a seven-day reduction in work days for teacher assistants and paraprofessionals, a savings of about $922,000. Moving the $600,000 back to that part of the budget will restore about 4.5 work days; GCS staff will develop a plan to determine which days will be restored.

“We very much value our teacher assistants, and while I had recommended a seven-day reduction, I understand the board’s decision to redirect funds to restore 4.5 of seven days to these important staff members,” said Superintendent Maurice “Mo” Green. “The salaries and benefits of our more than 10,000 employees make up the largest portion of our budget – more than 85 percent – but we need their presence in our schools to maintain the quality of education we provide for our students.”

Preliminary funding cuts from the state and county, along with increases in costs, left GCS with a funding gap of more than $21 million. To help fill this gap, the budget includes a redirection of $4.2 million in Title I funds carried over from 2012-13. The one-time use of Title I funds also allows the district to maintain teaching positions in the district’s Equity 2 and Equity 3 schools, which receive funds for additional positions since they have more students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch.

The budget also includes moving $1 million from the district’s fund balance reserve to provide support to schools throughout the year as unexpected supply and operational expenses occur.

“We’ve already made significant cuts to our budget, and these reductions will have an impact on schools,” said Angie Henry, chief financial officer. “This includes decreases in funds for supplies and materials needed for instruction, as well any other unforeseen costs they may face throughout the year.”

As early as March, the board began making difficult decisions about reductions in anticipation of losses of funding at the state level as well as flat funding from the county. Some of the reductions and redirections approved for 2013-14 include:

  • $5 million reduction in funding for schools that provides supplies and materials, tutors and staff development
  • State increase in class size by .25, which costs GCS $1.8 million
  • $1.8 million in reductions to central offices
  • Elimination of the Enrichment Region and reorganization of remaining four regions, a savings of about $643,700
  • Elimination of mentor pay – $631,148
  • Elimination of seven middle school literacy facilitator positions – $421,204
  • $51,381 reduction in funding for athletics

The salaries and benefits of GCS’ more than 10,000 employees make up more than 85 percent of the budget.

The final state budget provides $360.2 million to GCS for the 2013-14 school year. The county approved local funds of $185.2 million and $2 million in capital outlay funding for GCS in June. These funds, along with federal funding, child nutrition funds, After-school Care Enrichment Services funds and special revenue funds provide an operating budget of $612.9 million and a total budget of $675.8 million for the district.

Although the Aug. 22 vote essentially approves a budget for 2013-14, the board will formally approve a budget resolution for the 2013-14 fiscal year at its next meeting on Sept. 10.