HCPS faces shortfall

Published 10:46 am Monday, April 2, 2012

WINTON – The Hertford County Public Schools will face a $1.4 million shortfall in the coming budget year.

Executive Director of Financial Service Cindy Martin said during Monday’s meeting of the Hertford County Board of Education that the district will likely have to make $730,000 in budget cuts and use a fund balance appropriation to make up the shortfall.

Martin said the district is losing approximately $115,000 because of a drop of 101 students in its average daily membership. There are also cuts in appropriations from the North Carolina General Assembly and an estimated 17 percent decrease in fines and forfeitures received by the district.

“I would suggest everyone tighten up where they can,” Board Chairman David L. Shields told the school administration. “We have known it was coming.”

Shields said the board had agreed to spend up to 30 percent of its fund balance to soften the impact of cuts as much as possible.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to save and put aside for days like this,” he said.

Board member John D. Horton asked if the district staff had made any progress on the $730,000 in cuts the board had asked them to make.

Interim Superintendent Julius Walker said the central office staff, principals and others were working on it, but it had not been completed.

Shields asked when the budget would be due to commissioners and was told it was March 30.

“The county is being squeezed too and we realize that,” he said. “We appreciate the support we have received in the past. The board has always understood education is vital to Hertford County, to the economy of Hertford County.”

The chairman said he also felt the school system had proven the money given by the commissioners was well used.

“I think we have proven the education system in this county is better than some in the surrounding areas,” he said. “We have made strides to get better. We are taking a stand that we are not going to let education in this county fall off. We may be wearing holes in our shoes, but we’re doing to do everything we can to educate children.”

Shields said it was important for people to remember that education is crucial for the future.

“Education should take second to nobody,” he said. “Our kids are worth it.”

He said the district was doing well with their work.

“The quality of education is safe in this county and we need to shout it from the highest mountain,” Shields added. “We’re being good stewards with the dollars we’re given. The commissioners understand how important education is.”

Board member J. Wendell Hall said he dittoed the thoughts of the board chair.

He added that despite the fact the board was putting almost $1 million in fund balance into the coming budget; there was still a $730,000 shortfall that had to be filled.

“You and your staff are going to have to help us,” Hall said to the district’s principals and administrators. “If you don’t, we have no choice. I cringe when I think about it, it causes nightmares.”

Hall said he wanted people to understand the cuts were not coming from the school board or the commissioners, but were the result of the state’s economy.

“We have to button down and find $730,000 which won’t bleed too much,” he said. “We have to have folk in the classroom.”