Rockingham County Schools could face $4.1 million budget deficit

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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. -- The Rockingham County Board of Education has started discussing ways to balance the school system’s budget for the 2015-2016 school year.

After factoring in an estimated two percent decrease in funding from the state, school officials say they could face a $4.1 million budget deficit next year.

Superintendent Rodney Shotwell submitted two budget adjustment scenarios to the board Monday night. Both scenarios include reducing the number of certified support personnel, assistant principals and reducing TA days. The scenarios also include discontinuing Media TA’s, discontinuing alternative learning programs, merging one school and creating a multi-tiered bus schedule.

“I am very opposed to taking away any Assistant Principals, unless it's Assistant Principals in the elementary schools,” said Board of Education Member Elaine McCollum.

McCollum says they’re still looking for other ways to balance the budget.

“Whether or not we have to make changes in the people we have -- letting some go, having larger classes, having less Assistant Principals, or shorter hours for TA’s -- I think the school system is going to do everything it can to enhance the programs for children. Everything that's possible,” said McCollum.

Some Rockingham County families are also concerned about the proposed changes.

“Not only does it impact my family, but it also impacts all the families in Rockingham County and the teachers as well,” said Miriam Aikens, a local pastor and Rockingham County Schools grandparent. Aikens is also president of the Rockingham County Federated Republican Women’s Club.

Aikens thinks school board salaries should also be reconsidered during budget discussions.

“That money needs to come from the top-heavy part, instead of the hands-on part,” said Aikens. “We're looking at our future governor. We're looking at our future mayors. We're looking at our doctors and our lawyers. We're looking at the workforce of tomorrow when we're looking at our children today in the schools.”

The Rockingham County Board of Education has until mid-May to submit an approved proposed budget to County Commissioners.