Early I-SS budget for 2019-2020 includes $7.2M in additional expenses
BY KARISSA MILLER
Iredell-Statesville Board of Education members are looking at an estimated $7.2 million in additional expenses in the proposed $44.4 million local budget next year, which includes the cost of offering the International Baccalaureate program at Statesville High School.
The proposed budget calls for $44,425,480, or roughly 19.4 percent more than the 2018-2019 local current expense budget of $37,189,749.
Chief Finance Officer Melissa Wike, along with the finance department and Superintendent Brady Johnson, worked with elementary, middle and high school principals last week to identify spending priorities for 2019-2020.
Board members Samuel Kennington and Ken Poindexter were selected as school board representatives for the budget committee.
The district’s funding request is expected to be turned into the county commissioners on March 13. In order to meet the county’s deadline, the school board is expected to hold a public hearing and vote on the local budget request at its March 11 board meeting.
Wike gave the board an on overview during the committee of the whole meeting this week and sought their input.
The budget is divided into four different areas of funding:
Mandated expenditures are costs that are unavoidable. In total, the district has identified $1.1 million, or 3.21-percent, in expenses that must be met. The two big items are raises and benefit cost increases and charter school growth. Raises and benefit costs increases are estimated at $869,685 for next year. This is based on the assumption of a 3 percent raise for certified staff, a 2 percent raise for classified staff and a 5 percent raise for assistant principals. Charter school expenses, or the amount the district must pay to charter schools, are expected to increase to $231,175.
The district has identified $2.4 million, or 6.7 percent, in costs that must be absorbed next year due to expiration of grants and reductions to programs, such as, Title I and N.C. pre-K funding.
|Statesville High IB program||$153,300|
|Two maintenance positions||$116,240|
|Assistant Principal position shared between two schools||$90,350|
|Two media center Teacher Assistants||$50,400|
|Local pay increase for bus mechanics||$32,000|
|Band instrument lease||$27,200|
Student services and security
The fourth area of expenses is an estimated $2.6 million in student services and security needs. I-SS was hoping that the ¼ cent sales tax referendum would pass and help fund some of these positions, such as school resource officers and Student Assistant Program coordinators. However, since it failed, I-SS will now have to absorb those costs.
“I put a place holder number in there,” Wike told the board. “This number comes from one of the scenarios that was looked at during the 1/4 cents sale tax referendum process.”
Wike said the student task force recommendation wasn’t ready in time for Monday’s meeting. She anticipates receiving that information in the middle of February and will update the budget when the task force’s recommendation is available.
Monday’s meeting was the first opportunity for the board to look at the budget.
“I think these IB schools (are) a huge expense for the school system,” Poindexter said, saying that colleges view IB and the Advanced Placement programs similarly.
As the district faces budget challenges, Poindexter said that he wants to make sure all funds are spent wisely.
“I can’t buy into this IB thing,” he added.
Board member Charles Kelly said the recommendation was “out of the blue.”
“I haven’t heard any background … that’s really a questionable thing for me too,” Kelly said.
During the discussion, it was pointed out that other district high schools could hypothetically suffer if the IB program was started at Statesville as high-achieving students leave their traditional schools for more rigorous program, resulting in lower test scores on state tests.
On the other side, Kennington said that if the IB program was promised to parents in a certain area of the county then the board needs to uphold that commitment.
“IB is not a program for just the top flier children in our district. IB is exclusive only because of the size of our middle schools,” said Statesville High Principal Sheila Jenkins, the former principal at Northview IB World School.
“It is an inclusive program for any child who wants to do it. It is best practices on steroids — I guess you could say. It is very fast paced … many of your IB programs are put into low performing schools to raise the bar,” she added.
The next board meeting is Monday, Feb. 11, at 6 p.m. at the Iredell County Government Center, 200 South Center Street, Statesville.