Sunday, December 4, 2022

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School board tentatively agrees to trim $2.5M from increase in county budget request

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Alamance-Burlington school board members are scheduled to continue discussing, and possibly vote on, a county budget request at their upcoming meeting Monday night.

Meanwhile, school board members tentatively agreed during their latest discussion last week to reduce their county budget request by about $2.5 million, about one-third of the proposed increase.

Including $3.3 million in capital outlay for building repairs and maintenance, the school system’s initial county budget request originally totaled more than $54 million. The latest, revised figure currently tops $51.4 million (see accompanying chart).

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During their first discussion late last month, school board members were generally unwilling to ask Alamance County’s commissioners for $6.9 million more, on top of the $47 million they allocated to ABSS for the current 2021-22 fiscal year that ends June 30.

In an effort to get to a “more realistic figure,” the school system’s administration has proposed eliminating several one-time expenses from the county budget request.

Now, ABSS is considering using $660,000 in existing fund balance, or rainy-day savings, to cover those expenses, which include: a renovation for the maintenance warehouse at the central office ($330,000); a generator for the information technology server ($250,000); and replacement of three maintenance vehicles ($110,000).

ABSS currently has about $6.75 million in unassigned fund balance within the general fund, chief business officer Jeremy Teetor told school board members during their latest discussion last week.

The school system’s administration has also suggested increasing the county-funded supplement that ABSS teachers receive by half a percent, rather than by 1 percent, as originally proposed, which would cut the cost for that line item in half, from $1.2 million to $600,000. The county-funded supplement currently ranges between 10 and 12 percent, which ABSS teachers receive on top of their state-funded salaries.

The school system’s administration has also suggested contracting with Kernodle Clinic in Burlington for part-time athletic trainers, instead of hiring six new full-time high school athletic trainers, as originally proposed. That approach would trim $275,000 from the cost for that line item, based on the revised figures that Teetor presented last week during the school board’s latest work session.

School board members have previously said that they believe hiring high school athletic trainers is critical – not only by providing immediate medical treatment when injuries occur but also by educating students on what they can do to prevent life-altering injuries.
Both the original and revised county budget request for ABSS includes funding for 24 new positions.

The sheriff’s department has asked ABSS to cover half ($52,560) for a “platoon captain” to oversee 17 school resource officers.

Originally, the proposed county budget request called for hiring 14 new SROs for the upcoming 2022-23 school year. Under the revised budget request, four new SROs would be hired, at a cost of $245,000 rather than $980,000, based on the latest figures presented last week.

The new positions also include a system-wide safety director ($120,000) to create a “comprehensive school safety and security program.” The school safety director would work with local law enforcement agencies to coordinate the SRO program, as well as develop emergency response plans and training programs.

School board member Donna Westbrooks also asked the administration to include $691,000 to hire 18 media assistants, who would help with “increased demands on [media specialists] as they manage the increased use of technology in schools,” based on a description of the positions that was outlined in the original county budget request presented February 28. Ten of those positions would be at ABSS elementary schools, and eight would be at middle or high schools.

Funding for the 18 new media assistants hadn’t been included in the original county budget request but has been added since the board’s discussion last week.

Meanwhile, ABSS officials have also trimmed $979,689 from the cost for custodial services, which are currently provided under a contract with The Budd Group of Winston-Salem that expires June 30.

The original county budget request for ABSS called for a $2.2 million increase in county funding for custodial services, representing about 25 percent of the original budget request, according to Teetor.

Under the revised budget request, county funding for custodial services would increase by $1.2 million for the next fiscal year.

ABSS has been asked to forward a budget request to the county within the next few weeks.


OTHER ABSS NEWS IN THIS WEEK’S (MARCH 24) EDITION:

Teachers’ panel: too many extraneous assignments given to teachers: https://alamancenews.com/teachers-we-are-juggling-flaming-chainsaws-every-day/

New high school construction continues on schedule: https://alamancenews.com/construction-of-new-high-school-continuing-on-schedule/

Two county commissioners debate relative merits of ABSS vs. charter schools: https://alamancenews.com/commissioners-lashey-vs-thompson-over-charter-schools-vs-other-public-schools/

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