RSS school board OKs year’s final budget amendment

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 30, 2021

SALISBURY — The Rowan-Salisbury Schools Board of Education on Monday approved its fourth and final budget amendment as part of the closeout process for the district’s fiscal year.

The previous amendment was approved in April. The newest amendment takes into account $65 million in new federal relief funding awarded to the district from pots of nationwide federal funding passed in December and March. District Chief Financial Officer Carol Herndon said RSS’ budget total is an unprecedented $297 million because of the additional funding, but the money has been aligned with district expenditures.

Herndon said the district has spent every penny of its allotment from the state so it will not return any funding. The Finance Department issued 6,000 checks this month because of a locally funded round of bonuses for all faculty and staff. Out of the thousands of checks, there were about 40 errors.

The bonuses totaled about $3.2 million taken from fund balance, but Herndon said the balance will only decrease by about $680,000 because the district was able to put so much money back into the balance this year. The fund balance, which is a savings account for RSS, is “relatively flat” when compared to last year.

“I would like to give a huge shoutout to my team,” Herndon said.

The Finance Department will spend July finalizing reports to submit to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction ahead of the district’s annual audit. The audit is scheduled for September, and the deadline for districts to file audit reports is the end of October.

In other news from the meeting:

• The school board approved expenses for a district planning retreat to Lake Junaluska in late July. Most of the $122,740 cost will be covered by $26.3 million in federal grant money RSS was awarded last year and a $24,570 donation. Only $12,250 in local funding will be spent by on the retreat.

The retreat will be expansive, with 263 staff lodging over a weekend, venue space and the cost of meals included. Attending staff will include 203 teacher leaders and 60 district-level staff.

Chief Schools Officer Kelly Withers said this will bring the largest number of faculty together for one event since she has been with the district. The retreat will be dedicated to workshopping strategic plans and revisions for school renewal plans.

• The approval of the district’s updated code of conduct was pulled from the consent agenda to be discussed at the meeting.

Member Dean Hunter asked for clarification on the difference between the district code of conduct and codes at individual schools. Withers told the board schools can develop their own student handbooks to establish certain dress code or other specific school rules like uniforms.

Withers noted the code of conduct is very broad, and school rules may be more specific. Individual schools can be more restrictive, but not less than those laid out by the district.

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About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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