ELIZABETHTOWN – The Bladen County Board of Education is coming to the county commissioners with its hat in its hand.
“We’re asking if you won’t fund us, at least let us take money out of capital outlay,” said Vinston Rozier, chairman of the Board of Education, at Monday night’s meeting.
The request stems from ongoing conversations surrounding the budgets of the two entities. The Board of Education, at its May meeting, agreed to request from the commissioners two funds in the amount of about $250,000 that were set aside for capital projects – one for this year and one for last year – that were unused. Taylor told the Board of Education on Monday conversations with County Manager Greg Martin have left school staff “not sure about (receiving) one or none or both” of the quarter-million-dollar payouts.
“We’re still kind of in limbo about what we’ll be getting,” Taylor remarked.
According to Taylor, the problem for the district is that its $7.9 million budget for the coming year only includes $6.9 million in revenue.
“We felt we needed to appropriate $400,000 from the fund balance, which gives us revenue of $7.4 million,” the superintendent explained. “If the $251(000) was given back that was held this year, and if they also fulfill the second request of $251(000), that leaves us $191,000 short of our current budget … If for some reason they decide not to give us (any), it leaves us $694,000 short.”
Taylor told the Board there is approximately $350,000 in the fund balance, enough to cover a $191,000 shortage, but not enough to cover anything else.
“We’re still looking line by line at places we can continue to do reductions,” Taylor said. “We are going to continue to have conversations to see if we can get them to do what we undoubtedly know will benefit children.”
Taylor recognized multiple people at the meeting – school employees who are slated to lose their jobs if the shortage comes to fruition.
“I like to put a name and face with the difficult things we have to do,” Taylor informed the Board. “To bring teachers back, we need $378,000. I don’t think that’s asking a lot for Bladen County.”
“What if we went back one more time and tried to get the commissioners to let us use capital outlay funds?” questioned Rozier.
After Taylor acquiesced to the Board’s wishes, Rozier added, “We would like the citizens to take that approach with the commissioners – if they won’t give us money, at least let us take money from capital outlay so we can keep things intact for next year.”
The county is expected to approve a budget later this month.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.