Parents, teachers, administrators ask supervisors to help with school budget

Published 10:52 am Tuesday, March 29, 2011

COURTLAND—Parents, teachers and administrators from Southampton County Public Schools on Monday pleaded with the Board of Supervisors to add $130,553 over the current $10.7 million allocated this year for the upcoming school budget.

“We’re concerned about education,” school district intervention specialist Larry Rose told supervisors. “The interior will decay if you don’t continue to replace it or refinish it. We need your help.”

The School Board last month proposed a $26.4 million budget that would not cut programs or lay off any employees. The spending plan, which is $476,851 less than the current budget, also does not call for pay raises. Employees’ last pay increases were in 2008.

In the proposed budget, the school district asked for $130,553 more in local funding over this year’s allocation. That would come from the county.

County Administrator Mike Johnson said Tuesday he will have an answer to the school district’s request when the budget is unveiled during a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 6, at the County Administration Building in Courtland.

Monday’s Board of Supervisors meeting served as a public hearing for citizens to provide input on the budget.

Superintendent Charles Turner asked the Board of Supervisors for its continued support.

“We need your help,” Turner said. “We are sensitive to everyone’s situation. We ask you to continue to support us in our efforts.”

Southampton Middle School algebra teacher Shannon Hacker told supervisors she’s concerned about additional budget cuts.

“What the (School) Board has proposed is a fair and modest budget,” Hacker said. “I hope you can see it in your hearts to grant it.”

High school principal Allene Atkinson referred to the district’s students as the “best in the state.”

“Each and every day, these children demonstrate their talents,” Atkinson said. “All schools are accredited and all work diligently to meet every federal requirement thrown at us. Our programs are respected across the state.”

Newsoms resident Glenn Updike noted that the average pay for Southampton County teachers is $44,000 annually. The average county resident makes $33,000 a year.

“There’s probably some who make under $15,000,” Updike told the Board. “Look at the citizens around the county. Some don’t have enough to eat. Look how many foreclosed homes we have, vacant homes and how many have left the county because of the high tax rate.”