Last updated: July 29. 2014 4:19PM - 421 Views
By Chase Jordan cjordan@civitasmedia.com

Chase Jordan/Sampson IndependentClinton City Schools Superintendent Stuart Blount discusses budget matters during Monday's work session.
Chase Jordan/Sampson IndependentClinton City Schools Superintendent Stuart Blount discusses budget matters during Monday's work session.
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Superintendent Stuart Blount and leaders of Clinton City Schools have an idea of what Sampson County wants to do with their money. But the forecast from the state is unclear.

During a Monday work session, Blount updated the Board of Education about those budget matters, noting that the North Carolina General Assembly has reached an agreement for a budget framework but exactly what that looks like remains to be seen.

“There are not details to that framework and it probably will not be until Wednesday or Thursday, at the earliest,” before it comes, Blount said. “That’s just the next step in trying to adopt the state budget.”

Blount said it’s uncertain what is going to come out of Raleigh and that he’ll keep the board informed as the budget makes its way to the desk of Gov. Pat McCrory.

“We’re still at least a week away from that,” the superintendent remarked.

Blount also wanted to clear up confusion regarding the two-year budget.

“Last year, they passed a two-year state budget,” he explained. “We’re actually operating with a state budget.”

The legislators are now looking at pay raises for teachers, Medicaid and other financial issues.

“So they were actually making an adjustment to the budget they approved last year, which is a two-year budget,” he said.

Blount said if legislators do not adopt a budget, then they will fall back to the previously approved financial plan.

“Depending on what you read and how you interpret it, we’re operating on a contingency budget,” Blount said.

Unlike the state, the county does not operate under a two-year cycle. The Sampson County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 to approve a 2014-15 budget with a 4.5 cent property tax increase Monday night, which will raise the per pupil expenditure from the county but nearly as much as the city system and its county counterpart had hoped.

During the previous meeting in July, Blount reported that a proposed 5 percent cut by the commissioners could result in job cuts within the district. After hearing concerns from residents and department leaders, that idea is now off the table.

It would have decreased the per pupil expenditure in the county to $836 and would have probably eliminated several educational positions. Along with teaching positions, the possible eliminations also included assistant teacher and assistant principal positions.

The per pupil state average is $1,630.

“With the passing of the local budget, we do not anticipate that it will impact personnel,” Blount said.

Blount said the commissioners decision will allow them to make a few financial adjustments, but they’re still waiting on state legislators to announce the plans for the budget. Therefore the elimination of positions is still uncertain.

It was previously reported that a Senate proposal could result in an $800,000 cut for local education. The House budget could impact Clinton City Schools by $75,000.

Some of the possible cuts included driver’s education, teaching positions, nurses and funds for the central office.

(Chase Jordan can be reached at 910-249-4617. Follow the paper on Twitter @SampsonInd.)

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