04/29/08 — Duplin schools ask county for $13.2 million

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Duplin schools ask county for $13.2 million

By Steve Herring
Published in News on April 29, 2008 1:45 PM

KENANSVILLE -- Bringing per student local spending up to the state average is among the chief goals of the proposed Duplin County Schools budget.

Duplin school officials met with County Manager Aldridge during an informal work session Monday.

The schools are asking for $13,247,747.

Last year, the schools asked the county for $12.3 million and got $7,347,646.

"So many of the things you see in this budget were also requested last year," school finance officer Carolyn Olivarez said.

Duplin County ranks 104th out of the state's 115 school systems in per-student local funding. The county provides $923.67 per pupil, of which $816.13 comes from county appropriations and $107.54 from other local funding sources.

The state average is $1,692.89 per student.

"Using the state average and current enrollment as a guide would require $15,214,000," Ms. Olivarez said.

She noted that the school system is seeking $13,247,747 which translates to about $1,474.12 per student or about 87 percent of the state average.

"We would like to be at the state average at least, but we would say this is a good start," she said.

She said that when looking at revenue assumptions it is important to know that 57 percent of the school system's budget comes from the state, followed by 17 percent local-- should the county fund the requested amount. Another 10 percent is provided by federal grants and 6 percent from other local sources such as federal grants passing through local channels and some fines and forfeitures.

The proposed budge also includes money to recruit teachers and help retain those teachers already on the payroll.

It contains $15,000 to seek out and recruit qualified minority teachers and $165,000 for sign-on bonuses. Ms. Olivarez said that an estimated 50 teachers would receive sign-on bonuses worth $2,600 each. Science and math teachers or exceptional children teachers would receive an additional $1,400 because of a shortage of teachers in those fields.

Another $100,000 is being sought so the system can "grow its own teachers" by providing tuition reimbursement on the condition that the person agree to return to Duplin to teach.

Another $2,074,472 is included for teacher supplements. The state average is $3,211 per year. The amount varies based on experience.

"We have raised teacher supplements to the state average and that is something we are very proud of, but to sustain at that level will require the continuing support of county," she said. "That is a powerful thing to be able say to teachers when we are out there recruiting."

Proposed supplements include $3,050 for assistant principals; $5,000 principals at kindergarten through fifth grade schools; $6,500 for principals at middle schools and kindergarten through eighth grade schools; and $8,000 for high school principals.

The budget also includes:

* $237,600 for salaries plus benefits for six teaching positions for exception children and career and technical education

* $42,000 for salaries plus benefits for two migrant program teachers

* $35,000 for a computer technician

* $398,976 for school resource officers

* $578,000 to complete phase one of a security camera project

* $22,000 for "walkie-talkies" in the schools

* $1.2 million for capital outlay improvements such as roofs, furniture, portable classrooms

* $225,000 for facilities "facelifts -- up from $190,105 in the current budget

* $324,000 for salaries plus benefits for five exceptional children teachers and six assistants

* $198,000 for five technology facilitators to help teachers integrate technology in the classroom

Ms. Olivarez said there is good news in that no increase is being projected in health insurance costs. However, that was offset by rising fuel costs that are expected to take a larger chunk out of the budget. She said that $150,000 had been budgeted for fuel and electricity for the schools, but that she was unsure if that would be sufficient.