Author: Karin Kent
Translation of the 2017-18 Proposed Moore County Budget
Whew that Board of Ed meeting was chock full of info. The Pilot has had a few good articles so far which you should read. I wanted to give my take of the budget part here.
First let me say I am no financial whiz and not an MCS staffer, so my opinions are my own. However, I have spent the last 6 years with my nose in MCS business because of the funding deficits I saw. I stood up for Dr. Bob in the midst of those years because I thought the situation was wrong – not because of any personal loyalty to him. He and his staff are incredibly thorough in their research and planning – which is not to say I agree 100% with all decisions, but enough to keep fighting. My loyalty is to my kids and OUR community kids in Moore and I have been paying attention. The incredible value and education my 2 kids are getting is second to none in this county. If I truly thought alternative schools in Moore or my own home offered better, I’d go. And loudly. This is still true and I continue to fight.
The good news is that hundreds of county people have spoken up about the funding crisis in education. I personally have traveled Moore to explain this is mostly a man-made disaster courtesy of Raleigh (see here for the details of that). Unfortunately, moving the mountain of politics in the state house is slow. Thousands of people just like us are on their case too, but it will take an election to show legislators if they’re not working for public education, they’re out. They put off (NOT FIXED) most of the class size reduction expenses for one year (delaying the loss of 11 teachers, 3 school nurses, 8 digital education facilitators, 2 IT techs, 1 psychologist/social worker, & 1 school counselor for one year). No new funds or fix are in place for next year.
Now the bad news. Until the screws in Raleigh can be undone, our public schools still need funding by August. That means the commissioners’ county budget. That means our schools need our money. I’ve heard from every corner of this society that they are willing, but we don’t make the budget. The commissioners need to hear it again since they do. Here’s why: the proposed budget from the county shifts $1,502,060 from other county school funds (Peter? Paul?), while it adds only $559,777 in new funds. That’s good. It just simply isn’t enough to prevent known cuts (unknown what Raleigh will do in their budget for this year which, by the way, doesn’t come out until late summer and makes up 2/3 of expected MCS funding).
In addition to previous years’ cuts MCS has recently cut 2 maintenance techs, 1 accountability & research admin assistant, 1 communication specialist, 1 communications admin assistant, and the grants administrator.
So here’s what else we’ll lose unless we do more. In general order of certainty of being cut:
• Local teacher curriculum design program
• Funds for digital licenses/content and textbooks
• Planned expansion of digital learning to grades 3,4,5 with devices and 1 add’l staff
• Funds to repair/maintain current facilities
• 2 more maintenance techs
• 1 school police officer (SRO)
• Night-evening maintenance staffing (broken pipe after hours??)
• 2 lead instructional coaches (teachers who teach teachers)
• Teacher and staff continuing education courses (needed to keep teaching license)
• 8 media tech assistants (techs who fix teachers’/kids’ computers)
• Curriculum and instruction head
• 5 teacher assistant workdays
• Supplies funding to each school
• Maintenance funding to each school
• 2.5 school receptionists (brrring..brrring…)
• 9 custodians
• Human resources admin. assistant
• Payroll admin. assistant
• 1 high school athletic trainer
• 2 assistant principals
If any of these cuts sound like nothings to you, ask a teacher, administrator or staff member who will now be doing the extra work. Remember these cuts when the phone rings off the hook and emails aren’t returned because teachers/admin/staff are too busy with “nothings”. Remember these cuts when things break and take a long time to be fixed or when you are asked to bring in more supplies. Not what you want? Me neither. Let’s DO SOMETHING.
The proposed county commissioners’ budget is out. June 6, 5:30 at the Carthage Historic Courthouse is the only public hearing on their plan. Each signed in speaker gets 3 minutes, with a cumulative time limit of 2 hours. If you’ve ever showed up to a community talk, a previous commissioner or BOE meeting, read the paper or anything put out by Parents for Moore, then you have an interest in attending. If you own property, a business, work or live in Moore and/or care about the quality of our community, then you have an interest in attending. Representative government only works if we communicate what we expect, clearly and often. Here is the commissioners’ contact info to call or write as well. Help them represent us. Show up June 6th.
Laundry List to Our State Leaders
I am afraid this email will again fall on deaf ears, but I am writing regarding my continued distress at the devastating cuts and under-funding from the state level to Moore County Schools. I know your answers to my emails are complicated by the fact that I understand the finances back to 2008 and am not easily confused by the use of misleading statistics provided by lobbyists and for-profit charter and voucher scheme advocates. And before you jump to the Moore-county-needs-to-step-up-more part, we are asking them for more, daily. Moore county’s local supplement is 28th highest while state funding is 105th/115, leaving us 85th overall. We will keep pushing.
To refresh your memory on my concerns, Moore County already faces the burden of:
1. inaccurate teacher funding by county instead of site (at least $1.4M),
2. the reversion of average teacher salary differences ($1.5M),
3. the previous (prior to 2016 budget) pressure on class size by changing k-3 class size allotment formulas ($1.7M),
6. the loss of sales tax expansion funds based on the tier system and,
7. the 2016-2017 unfunded class size reduction act ($2.9M or $1.42M)
Continuing to stall on funding, delaying or suspending the class size reduction act is just adding unnecessary complication to already stressed systems across the state. Putting all these things together, you can see how I might view your actions as a ploy to distract, divide, divert and therefore gain leverage in negotiation on the education budget. To what end? Further tax cuts (yes, from which I personally benefit)? Any benefit achieved by the individual is negated by the devastation of education to the majority of North Carolina’s children, our future. That scares me. NC public education has always been a source of economic development and betterment in our state. Please do not destroy it by continuing to push budget needs to the counties and into for-profit companies.
Whether your continued support of all these flawed funding issues is due to wilful ignorance or simple misunderstanding is beyond me. There are MANY resources at the school and district level willing to clarify how the policies you enact as horse-trades in Raleigh translate to daily erosion in the classroom. There are ways to fund education from existing state funds. Imagine the goodwill and press you can enjoy from correcting the broken policies of previous democratic and republican assemblies? Win-win-win, simply by doing the right thing. Please seek out ideas from the professional school finance officers, past and present.