02/06/11 — Duplin officials talk about school funds

View Archive

Duplin officials talk about school funds

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on February 6, 2011 1:50 AM

Duplin County commissioners and school board members met last week as the two bodies continue to iron out their differences over school funding.

At that meeting, County Manager Mike Aldridge said the two boards decided on the dates that school Superintendent Dr. Austin Obasohan and his staff will present their budget, even though the commissioners are now required, as a result of the lawsuit filed by the Board of Education in 2008 and finally settled in November 2010, to pay the school board 40 percent of the county's revenues -- based on the county's ad valorem tax, motor vehicle tax and the previous year's tax collections.

"My thought was that we didn't need a budget presentation from the board of education because we know we have to fund this amount," Aldridge said. "But both boards decided they wanted to continue with the presentations because the commissioners, by statute, have to fund what's needed."

And, he explained, this way everybody knows where that chunk of money -- expected to be about $10 million next year, up from the $8.7 originally budgeted for the current fiscal year -- is going.

Along those same lines, he said, the two boards also agreed that the county schools' finance officer will update the commissioners on a regular basis -- with the exact schedule and format still to be determined -- as to how that $10 million is actually being spent.

That way, Aldridge said, even though the commissioners aren't directing that funding into certain line items, they at least know where it's going and can answer questions from their constituents -- something the commissioners have long said they need to be able to do.

"That was one item we got resolved, and that's good," Aldridge said.

With county officials already working on formulating their 2011-12 spending, Aldridge said he expects a budget presentations and discussions to begin in earnest in April -- a challenging situation expected to be made tougher by the school funding requirement.

"That's a pretty good piece of our revenue stream," Aldridge said.

In other Duplin County school news, the Board of Education met for its monthly work session on Tuesday and elected a vice chairman after being unable to do so at its Jan. 18 meeting. Elected was Reginald Kenan. The new chairman, who was elected after three votes on Jan. 18, is Chuck Farrior.

The next school board meeting will be Feb. 15. The next commissioners meeting will be Monday.