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Preliminary county budget request for ABSS totals $50.7 million – minus any capital outlay

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Alamance-Burlington school board members Tuesday reviewed a potential county budget request for the upcoming fiscal year that totals $50.7 million, a figure which excludes any capital outlay for building repairs and maintenance.

If approved by Alamance County’s commissioners, the school system’s $50,687,116 funding request for current expenses, or daily operations, would represent an increase of $3,874,797 (8.3 percent) over the county’s current funding level of $46,812,319 for daily operations.

By comparison, the commissioners allocated a total of $50.9 million, which included $3.3 million in capital funding, to ABSS for the fiscal year that ends June 30, based on the county budget ordinance they adopted in June 2022.

ABSS chief finance officer Kim Vey told The Alamance News during a break in the school board’s work session Tuesday afternoon that she isn’t yet sure whether the commissioners will allocate $3.3 million in capital funding for the 2023-24 fiscal year, as they have for each of the past several fiscal years.

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The preliminary county budget request for ABSS includes six “continuation” items, totaling more than $2 million, which McVey says are mandated, but not funded, by the state (see accompanying chart).

Those continuation items include:

• $546,540 to award raises to employees whose positions are county-funded, which would be in line with any raises that the General Assembly may award this year to school employees whose positions are state-funded;

• A $461,500 increase in the portion of state per-pupil funding that ABSS is statutorily required to share with the county’s four public charter schools;

• $375,300 to cover a projected 2 percent increase in the employer’s matching contribution to the state retirement fund;

• $319,742 increase in the cost for custodial services, which includes additional staff, equipment, and supplies that will be needed when the new high school, Southeast, opens in August;

• $275,000 to award a $5,000 cost-of-living increase to 36 school resource officers and to cover the salary and benefits for hiring an additional SRO at Southeast High School;

• $36,750 for “step increases” in the pay rates for classified, or hourly, positions.

[Story continues below budget chart.]

McVey recalled Tuesday that the proposed “step increases” follow the school board’s decision several years ago to adjust the hourly pay rates for classified employees such as school nutrition staff, clerical workers, and bus drivers. “When the legislature does award a raise” to teachers and other licensed school employees, classified employees would receive matching raises, as well, the finance officer said Tuesday.

The $50.1 million county budget request that McVey presented to school board members during their work session also includes four separate line items, which have been identified as “funding priorities” and currently total $1.8 million.

That figure, however, excludes the estimated cost for a newly-unveiled goal of opening a “multi-language center” where non-English-speaking students would receive intensive instruction in English. ABSS officials have yet to assign a potential cost for establishing a multi-language center.

The other three funding priorities are: $1.3 million for a 1 percent increase in the county-funded supplement that teachers receive on top of their state-funded salaries, which currently ranges between 10.5 and 12.5 percent, depending on consecutive years of employment with ABSS; $514,965 for hiring seven high school athletic trainers, plus equipment and supplies; and a $100 increase in the stipend for athletic coaches.

ABSS superintendent Dr. Dain Butler told school board members Tuesday afternoon that the county budget request for ABSS would be on their agenda for “every meeting” until it’s submitted to the county manager. “May 15th, [Alamance County manager] Heidi York is going to present her budget to the county commissioners; June 5th, they will have a public hearing; and on June 19th, they will adopt a budget,” Butler told the board, adding that he plans to finalize a county budget request by the end of March.

“This venue will be available to every one of you to give us your feedback,” the superintendent added. “We don’t want any surprises when we go in front of the county commissioners.”

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