With goals to start work on a new roof at the bus garage, Sampson school leaders are exploring avenues through tax funds after a request to chip in was denied by Clinton City Schools.
During a meeting for the Sampson County Schools Board of Education, Mark Hammond, executive director of auxiliary services, made a presentation about capital outlay projects during a Tuesday morning work session. Board Chair Tim Register and Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy spoke about roof repairs for the bus garage and a request to receive a special sales tax funds for maintenance.
“Everybody may not be aware of this, but it’s certainly something the public needs to know,” Register said. “We’re (the county’s administrative unit) responsible for the bus fleet in the county.”
Although state officials assign one fleet of buses, Register and school officials stated on several occasions that CCS uses the building too.
“We provide the building for all of the buses in the county including Clinton City,” Register said. “But Clinton City does not give us any money to help maintain that building. We’ve been to Clinton City and asked for help in replacing the roof on a proportional basis, based on their number of buses.”
Register said CCS refused to assist with funding for the repairs. He believes it’s an unfair position for CCS leaders to take and believes that all of the responsibility should not fall back on the county district. The matter was previously placed on the back-burner in 2017 after SCS officials communicated with CCS.
“We are going to go back to the city board to try to get them to help us pay for the new roof,” Register said.
In the meantime, Bracy and SCS will be proactive by asking for assistance through the special sales tax fund.
“We’re going to ask the commissioners to allow us to fix this roof and the bus garages with those funds,” Bracy said.
In the capital outlay request for 2018-2019, the cost of the project is more than $181,000. It’s one of several system wide items listed under a request for more than $90,000. Some of the others include vehicle maintenance ($331,389), security upgrades ($90,000), and roof and painting repair needs ($50,000).
Other roof replacements were added to long range capital needs. The listed locations totaling $2.43 million included Lakewood High School, Union Intermediate, C.E. Perry Building, and Hargrove Elementary. After funds are allocated to the county, Hammond will make recommendations for final approval.
More funds sought from county
Finance Officer Stephen Britt spoke about presented an update on funding matters and request to Sampson County officials. The district has not received allotments from the state, which is 75 percent of the budget.
“As present our request to the county, we still don’t know where the majority of our funds are coming from,” Britt said.
For the 2018-2019 fiscal year, SCS is requesting more than $10 million, which is an increase of $1.35 million from the previous request. Last year county schools received $1,027 per student. The request would increase that total by $162.
“We would still be below the state average,” Britt said about being ranked 110th out of 115 school districts. “We’re at the bottom as far spending on the local size.”
Some of the reasons for the requests include having an School Resource Officer (SROs) at every school, mandated salary increases, initiatives for student technology, classroom supplies, utility costs, and education development and expected state cuts of $200,000.
At $600,000, SROs throughout the district were the largest estimate. Around the United States, the concern for school safety continues to increase because of mass shooting incidents. The district is currently spending about $160,000 from at-risk funding for SROs.
“We would need to work with the county to determine how much extra it would actually be,” Britt said about needs such as training and adding an additional 13 to 15 SROs. “This may be low or high depending on if the county is willing to pick up some of the cost on their side.”
It was also noted that the district has good relationship with the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office, which provides equipment for deputies. State legislators are also looking into implementing more laws.
“It’s a possibility that we may get some help from the state in this area as well,” Register said. “I spoke with (Sen. Brent Jackson) and he said it would certainly be an item of discussion in the session, because it’s such a timely issue. We’ll keep our fingers crossed on that.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.