I-SS seeking 12.3 percent funding increase for 2019-2020
BY KARISSA MILLER
The Iredell-Statesville Board of Education is moving forward with request for $41.7 million in funding for fiscal year 2019-2020.
The request is up from $37.1 million from the 2018-2019 budget, which represents a 12.3 increase.
I-SS Superintendent Brady Johnson explained on Sunday during the mid-year review session that the “Public Safety funds of Iredell County” being considered by county commissioners would cover the cost of existing School Resource Officers. The district is also proposing adding three school nurses at a cost of $270,000 and two mental health employees at a cost of $150,000. Officials also want to allocate $51,400 for contracted student services and training.
Student services represent 1.27 percent or a $471,400 expenditure. One of the biggest needs right now is mental health support for I-SS students and training for employees, district officials said.
I-SS expects to be hit hard by proposed federal and state funding reductions as well as the expiration of grants. Administrators are anticipating reductions to Title I funding as well as N.C. pre-K funding. Total lost revenue in these areas is estimated at $2.49 million.
School administrators are also looking at ways to reduce spending.
Reductions to the budget include: central office vacancies not being filled unless student instruction or support is directly affected; delayed capital projects like facility upgrades; monitoring employee overtime expenses; and cutting cell phone-related expenses.
Other components of the budget
Additional funds are needed to support costs required by the state. These include state-mandated raises and benefit cost increases and money needed to pay student growth at charter schools. These costs account for $1.19 million.
According to I-SS, discretionary costs account for 1.50 percent of the budget or roughly $556,875. The district has not been able to restore some of the maintenance positions that were cut during the recession. They proposed budget includes funding for two full-time maintenance positions.
Discussion of Social Workers
Other expenses in the proposed budget include local pay increase for bus mechanics as well as funding for a new social worker position. The school board discussed the importance of having social workers to provide services to students who are continually absent from school.
Currently, around 1 out of every 7 students has 10 or more absences.
New board member Ken Poindexter said that he originally didn’t support increasing the number of social workers. After doing some research and learning that social workers have a positive impact on student performance, he changed his mind.
Classified Employee Raises
Chairman Martin Page also brought up the need to the need to fund raises for classified employees.
“The county has not given us the funds to raise the salaries of our classified employees,” Page said, addressing the county commissioners.
The group agreed that data was needed to compare I-SS classified employees to their counterparts in neighboring counties.
The board will meet again at the Iredell County Government Center, 200 S. Center Street, Statesville, on Monday, March 11, at 6 p.m. The meeting is open to the public. They will vote to approve the current expense budget request as their formal request is due on March 13.