School board to tap fund balance

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 15, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education likely won’t be asking county commissioner for additional funds to close a $286,000 budget gap.
The deficit is a result of state-mandated increases on retirement rates and hospitalization insurance, costing the school system $180,000 and $106,000, respectively.
Despite uncertainty about cuts from the state and federal government, the board consensus Monday was to absorb the $286,000 by using money from the fund balance.
‘We have to be elastic,’ Superintendent Dr. Judy Grissom said, pointing out that the county is facing its own shortfalls.
Grissom said earlier this month using a combination of fund balance money, the $4.2 million in federal Education Jobs Fund and making cuts would be a better solution than requesting more local funding.
County Manager Gary Page has proposed trimming $1 million from the school system’s allotment next fiscal year, something school to deal with the funding cliff.
School board member Bryce Beard said he agrees that additional funding would be out of the question, but hopes the county will not slash any its current allotment.
‘They’ve got to think about the community partnership between the county and the schools,’ he said. ‘If Rowan County wants to continue to be a county of excellence we have to shoulder the burden together.
‘There is no measure of a community that is more important than the way they provide for their children.’
Beard said he’d like to see commissioners provide the necessary funds to keep programing intact and decrease the dropout rate.
‘We’re trying as hard as we can and every time we get down the road they try to take the gas out of the car,’ he said. ‘Well, you can’t get to the end of the trip without the gas you need.’
School board member Jean Kennedy agreed that approaching the commissioners in a positive way will be key during budget talks.
She said she hopes both boards can talk about ways to be come partners.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.