Sampson County School leaders are requesting more money from commissioners for the next academic year to help operate its system.
During a budget work session, Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy presented a budget request seeking $1,050 per student from the Sampson Board of Commissioners for the 2016-17 period. That amount is a 10.1 percent increase from the current amount of $930 per student, which totaled more than $8 million in county appropriation funds. If school officials have their way, the additional $811,050 will expand it to $8.8 million. The district is expecting 8,394 students.
“Asking for $1,050 still puts us well below what the state average is and below most of our neighbors with what they’re getting as well,” Bracy said.
For the upcoming school year, Bracy pointed out that some of the priorities included starting off with a balanced budget and not dipping into the fund balance to make everything straight.
“That’s a practice we want to get away from and we also want to protect our classroom instruction with our budget as well,” Bracy said.
The superintendent said it was a cautious budget because of uncertainty about state and federal funding and no appropriation in fund balance.
“Even though the budget is cautious, we still have high aspirations for our students,” he said. “We’re going to ask the commissioners to fund us at a higher level than they’ve done before.”
The amount granted by Sampson County Board of Commissioners continues to increase each year. Bracy hopes that trend continues.
“When the commissioners approve this request, we’ll have to come back here to iron out the details,” he said. “They may not grant us the $1,050. If they don’t we’ll have to make some adjustments with this local budget at that time. We’ll go through it line item by line item, just like we did last year.”
In addition to needs such as coaches for professional development, supplies and expected energy cost, the county district would like to hire a grant writer, with a salary of $30,000.
“It’s a new position that we’re going to fund locally so we can get some grants here in our school system,” Bracy said. “We desperately need those grants.”
When asked about the certainty of the situation, Bracy said he was optimistic about receiving an additional $811,050.
Clinton City Schools asked for the same amount as well. Dr. Stuart Blount, CCS superintendent, presented a letter, addressed to Ed Causey, county manager, to board members at the March 3 meeting. In the letter, Blount requested the per pupil allocation increase from $930 to $1,050.
“This increase would provide an additional $369,600 for our district,” Blount stated in the letter. “We anticipate our fund balance appropriation to be limited to $500,000 for 2016-2017.”
The local funding amount approved by the Sampson Board of Commissioners has increased from $830 per student in 2011-12 to $930 per student in 2015-16. The state average for 2014-15 was $1,630 per student.
(Chase Jordan | Sampson Independent)
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