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News from the Board -- April 27, 2020Posted by Jessica Coston on 4/28/2020 12:30:00 PM
On Monday, April 27, the Onslow County Board of Education held a special meeting to hear presentations on the capital outlay and current expense budgets for the 2020-2021 school year.
Before beginning budget presentations, the Board and Superintendent Dr. Barry Collins provided a brief update on the COVID-19 pandemic and the district’s response. Dr. Collins began by thanking staff, students, parents and the Board for their patience, leadership and resilience through the unprecedented school closures. He also said that, moving forward, the district will continue taking guidance from NCDPI, the governor and the state board of education regarding testing, calendars, grading and more. For now, he said, the district will continue digital learning as it has been.
Moving into the budget conversation, Dr. Collins shared that, despite the possibilities of an unstable economy following COVID-19, the Onslow County Board of Commissioners are confident that they will be able to honor the funding agreement reached with the school system earlier this year. He said that, moving into the new fiscal year, the district is expecting to receive additional funding in the capital outlay and current expense budgets.
Chief Operations Officer Steve Myers gave the first presentation, on the capital outlay budget. The capital outlay budget covers the district’s expenses related to maintenance, transportation, paving, roofing, furniture, safety and security and more. Mr. Myers began his presentation by sharing with the Board and executive staff that the average age of all OCS facilities is 42 years. He also shared that the district is responsible for maintaining 506 buildings, which is about 88 acres of heated square feet, as well as 1,585 acres of land. The district’s current assets equal $712,887,077.
Mr. Myers provided some historical context for the capital outlay budget, saying that for the last 15 years or so, the district has received about $3 million annually. With the new funding agreement in place, Mr. Myers said that this amount will increase to $3.3 million for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Over the next 5 years, the district will see an increase of $2.5 million, eventually bringing the capital outlay budget to around $5.5 million.
This year, Mr. Myers said the district received over $18 million worth of capital requests from schools and departments across the county. Requests were prioritized by greatest need, requirements by law, instructional and security needs, and the timeline needed. From there the requests were filtered until there were $3.3 million worth of work to be done. Highlights from the planned program of work for the 2020-2021 year include roofing and renovation projects, HVAC repairs and replacements, the purchase of new maintenance trucks, new furniture for some schools and more.
After the capital outlay presentation, Mr. Myers provided a brief update on the two new elementary schools coming to the county. He said that the Coastal Elementary School project in Holly Ridge was coming along nicely, as utility work and site work continue. The project is within budget and, as of right now, there have been no changes to the projected completion date of June 2021. Regarding the school coming to the Catherine Lake area, Mr. Myers said that the site is being cleared and that curb and utility work have begun for the entrance road. Part of the land donation agreement stated that the access road for the school would be completed by August 2020, and Mr. Myers said that crews have been working hard to meet that timeline. As of now, the project is within budget and is scheduled to be completed on time, in December of 2021.
Next, Chief Finance Officer Jeff Hollamon presented the proposed local current expense budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. The local current expense budget provides funding for salaries, insurance, academic programming, technology, cultural arts, utilities, exceptional children and more. Mr. Hollamon said that the total proposed budget for 2020-2021 equals $65.2 million, with $900,000 coming from fines and forfeitures, $6.6 million coming from the appropriated fund balance, $1.2 million coming from disaster recovery funds, and $56.5 million coming from the county’s tax revenue. Going into the new fiscal year, Mr. Hollamon said that the superintendent’s budget priorities will remain the same as those established last year: math, mental health, and safety and security.
To remain within budget and support budgetary priorities, Mr. Hollamon said that over $4.7 million worth of requests were cut. To support the district’s math growth, funding will remain in place for the ECU math licensure program for OCS teachers, as well as the NC State Educator Scholars Program. An additional 4 social workers will be added to support the district’s mental health services, and software upgrades for visitor management and alarm systems will improve the district’s safety and security.
On May 5, the Board will hold a public hearing to discuss the proposed budget, and will vote on the budget later that day.