County Manager: ‘Good likelihood’ proposed state budget will increase school funding

SALISBURY — A proposed state budget is expected to restore at least some of the $225,000 in budget cuts Rowan-Salisbury schools suffered, County Manager Gary Page said Monday.

In a 3-2 vote last month, commissioners approved the budget cutback — but with the exception that if an approved state budget provided the county with any additional revenue, the amount, up to $225,000, would go to restoring the schools budget.

If fully restored, Page said, Rowan-Salisbury schools would see the same budget as last year.

“There’s a good likelihood that, by the budget being approved yesterday, that Rowan County will gain revenue which will allow us to fund up to the $225,000 and hold the schools harmless,” Page said.

In emails to county administrators across the state, the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners notified managers last week of the anticipated outcome from the budget compromise.

“The House and Senate came to an agreement on tax reform Monday, and I am pleased to let you know that the approved plan will not negatively impact county revenues,” Executive Director David Thompson said in an email. “In fact, we expect to see a slight increase in county revenues once the plan is approved this week and eventually implemented. According to estimates from the General Assembly, revenues to local governments should increase by more than $14 million for 2013-14 and more than $36 million in 2014-15.”

But Page stressed that Rowan will only see a slice of the full revenue amount, as it’s expected to be divided among the counties by population.

“We’ll get an increase,” he said, “but I don’t know what the gain is yet.”

Still, public educators are likely to see significant cuts in other areas.

The proposed plan would cut $260 million from public schools, community colleges and the University of North Carolina system — down to $11.5 billion of the $20.6 billion budget — and another $222 million next year.

The plan would also dismantle the current teacher tenure system, wherein teachers were given tenure after the first four years of employment, and cut about one-fifth of the funding for teaching assistants, or about 3,800 positions, the Associated Press reported.

Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.

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