Budget remains unchanged

Published 9:36 am Tuesday, May 10, 2011

WINDSOR – Bertie County School officials met over the proposed 2011-12 budget here Thursday.

In a called work session, the board discussed the budget proposed by former interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Will Crawford. At the end of the day, the board decided to keep the budget they approved in April.

The budget, however, is slightly different than the one presented to the Bertie County Board of Commissioners.

After discussing some minor amounts in the current budget, the board took up the issue of the differing budget requests.

Board member Pamela Chamblee asked if the budget they were looking at was the one approved by the board as the superintendent’s budget or the one changed by Dr. Crawford before it was presented to the commissioners.

Current Superintendent of Schools Dr. Debbie Harris-Rollins said the budget was the original one approved by the board. She said the only change was to the line item for the school board supplement.

The original budget contained $21,600 for the board and the one presented to the commissioners requested $33,600 for that line item.

Chamblee said the board had discussed being paid for the extra meetings they attended and that there were two members against the idea. She said the idea was not pursued because of possible Reductions In Force within the school district.

The money was placed in the line item by Dr. Crawford, she said, without prior knowledge of the board members.

Board Chair Gloria Lee said she believed the board should work from the document they approved.

Dr. Harris-Rollins said the budget did not change overall as the $12,000 that was added in the board’s line item was taken out of the contracted services line item.

Bertie County Schools Finance Officer Lynn Harrold said the intent was to make sure the budget did not increase.

Board member Emma Johnson asked what contracted services were involved in the line item that was reduced and Harrold said in the previous year it was used to pay for the superintendent search firm and the extra audit.

“Will we be safe with $8,000,” Lee asked.

Harrold said it would be fine, but that if the board did not want the extra $12,000 in the line item it was moved to, it could be moved back.

Dr. Harris-Rollins said those two line items were the only one changed and that she had discussed the budget at great lengths since her arrival.

“I feel it is a fair and appropriate budget,” she said.

Johnson then asked about the house on White Oak Road that is owned by the board of education and how much utilities cost.

Harrold said she would get that information and have it sent to the board members.

Chamblee asked if the board had considered selling the house and Johnson said there had been an effort, but “we can’t sell it.”

Chamblee asked if could be auctioned, but Public Information Officer Brent Todd said he believed it would have to be declared surplus property to be auctioned and that could be problematic.

Lee then asked about the money the board receives from the fees generated at the Bertie County landfill and Harrold said the $75,000 received was shown as separate revenue.

Chamblee asked if the information about the actual amount received could be shared with staff and several board members said it had been previously.

Board members said information had been distributed indicating the entire amount of the supplement paid to teachers was provided by that fund, but it never had been.

Board member Alton Parker said the board was using local funds to supplement the $75,000 to pay the money to local staff before it was discontinued this year.

Lee said the loss of that bonus saved jobs and Parker said that was true.

Chamblee then asked Dr. Harris-Rollins if she was satisfied with the budget and the superintendent said she was.

After discussion, Chamblee said she didn’t speak for any other board member, but that she was hoping the board could discuss the option of being paid for additional meetings, vote on it and submit the budget in whatever way the outcome turned out.

Lee said, as of now, the budget would stand as originally approved with $12,000 less in that line item.

The board could not vote on the matter because they were in a work session.

Parker asked Harrold what would happen if the Bertie Commissioners did not approve the $264,000 increase that was requested. She said positions would need to be cut.

“The commissioners have been good about increasing our funding, but I had to ask just in case,” he said.