Schools seek budget boost

Published 9:44 am Thursday, March 29, 2012

COURTLAND—Southampton County schools on Wednesday introduced a $28.5 million budget that would require an extra $647,647 contribution from the county.

Not getting the $647,647 would result in laying off 25 school employees, said Superintendent Charles Turner. None would be teachers. Employees would include teaching assistants, custodians, and central office and cafeteria workers.

The proposed 2012-13 spending plan also calls for the elimination of 16 positions, of which 10 are teaching jobs. These are positions that will not be filled due to resignations or retirements.

County Administrator Mike Johnson noted the county faces a $1.3 million deficit. With the school district’s request for $647,647, that puts the deficit at $2 million.

Franklin District Supervisor Barry Porter, Jerusalem District Supervisor Dr. Alan Edwards and Newsoms District Supervisor Glenn Updike have publicly said they would not raise taxes to balance the budget.

Still working on the county budget, Johnson said without raising taxes the county would need another way to increase revenue, decrease expenses or a combination of both.

The county gave the school district $11 million for its 2011-12 budget. This year’s allocation has not been set, Johnson said. It’s expected to be set when the county introduces its proposed budget at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 4, at the county government center.

To complicate matters with the school budget, the state has not finalized its budget. Turner presented a budget under the assumption that the school district would get $16.4 million as proposed by the Senate Finance Committee.

Johnson speculates the state allocation will be lower than what’s proposed by the State Finance Committee.

“My sense is you’ll end up with a little less,” he said, noting the House allocation is lower than the Senate Finance Committee’s and both sides will likely negotiate for something in between.

At the start of the budget process, the school district needed an extra $2.8 million from the county.