Rowan-Salisbury losing $3.15 million in state budget

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Maggie Blackwell
The Rowan-Salisbury School System will see about $3.15 million less from the state in the coming academic year, and technology, continuing education for teachers and programs to improve student accountability appear to be hardest hit by the budget cuts.
Amid the cuts, Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education Chairman Jim Emerson found a silver lining.
“We were encouraged to know the state could not go below a certain point without losing some stimulus money. This meant we would not lose any full-time teachers,” he said. “We look forward to a productive school year, knowing we have to watch every penny.”
And the $19 billion budget approved by the N.C. General Assembly on Wednesday will finally allow Rowan-Salisbury Financial Officer Tara Trexler to propose a budget ó and thus a direction ó for the school system, even though it comes just two weeks prior to the first day of school.
Trexler has been developing scenarios for a local budget since the first of the year, when state lawmakers took back money they had promised to school systems and indicated the 2009-2010 budget year would be a tight one.
Trexler and financial officers from school systems around the state participate in conference calls with leaders in Raleigh on Fridays to discuss what programs might be cut, where to shave dollars and how to best support an educational system in a weak economy.
Wednesday’s passage of a state budget allowed Trexler to put away all the scenarios and deal, finally, with reality.
The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education will meet Monday “to determine how to address the deep level of state funding cuts issued this week, while minimizing the impact on children in the classroom,” Trexler said.
Although it may be up to 10 days before the school system receives its allocations from the state, Trexler issued the following information on the state budget cuts and the financial impact she calculates the cuts will have on Rowan-Salisbury schools:
– The state eliminated funding for non-instructional support staff, expecting federal stabilization dollars will pay for it, for a total of about $5.65 million.
– State funding for the school system’s central office is cut by 14 percent, about $200,000.
– Technology funds are cut by 90 percent.
– All funding for continuing education for teachers is eliminated for this year.
– Funding for improving student accountability is eliminated. That comes to about $622,000.
– Funding for middle school literacy coaches is eliminated. Monday night’s proposal will examine this cut.
– Teacher mentoring is cut by about 18 percent, or $26,000.
– State funding for limited English proficiency is cut by 2.5 percent, or about $26,000.
– Transportation funding is cut by 3.9 percent. According to Trexler, the transportation budget retains some $4.1 million, which may be enough to transport students.
– The school system will delay selection of new math textbooks, saving some money.
Emerson said in a bad budget year, Rowan-Salisbury has a built-in advantage in that system Superintendent Dr. Judy Grissom “runs a lean machine at all times. We are not top-heavy, and she has shown good management in the past. So at this point we are ahead of the game.”
Grissom is away on vacation this week but will return prior to Monday’s meeting, school system officials said.