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Schools receive $4 million bump from state


By Amber Revels-Stocks
The Times-Leader

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

An increase of funds totaling more than $4.2 million for Pitt County Schools will go mostly instructional needs, administrators told the Board of Education this week.

The funds are due to budget adjustments mostly from the state Department of Public Instruction, Chief Financial Officer Debra Baggett told the board at its planning session on Monday. The money comes with strings, she said.

“The state allots the money in various categories, and you are limited to that type of use. The bulk of it is instructional,” she said.

The total increase is $4,205,196.22. About $192,000 of the total is from federal sources, and about $116,000 are special revenue funds from a variety of sources including grant monies.

About 15 percent of the total is going to support services, and about 5 percent is going to ancillary services, which is mostly child nutrition. About 75 percent is going to instructional needs, including a new middle school position.

“We got additional dollars for the middle school, funding an additional CTE position,” Baggett said.

The new Career and Technical Education teacher will serve as a career development coordinator for eighth-graders in the district. This position is grant-funded by the state and is budgeted for $50,000. CTE Director Beth Ann Trueblood is currently interviewing people for the position, according to Baggett.

“The state estimates how many kids you’re going to have then adjusts the funds based on what you actually have,” Baggett said.

The district also received an $84,505 increase as a result of principal bonuses and $20,000 for highly qualified teachers.

“These bonuses are based on the student scores,” Baggett explained. Principals at schools with a high level of proficiency or that rose letter grades received bonuses through this fund.

The state also sent the system hurricane relief money for the child nutrition program, which lost money as a result of school being out of session due to Hurricane Florence.

“Next year (also) is our adoption year for new textbooks, so the state gives you that money over time,” Baggett said. “That money just rolls over to next year, so we can adopt textbooks.”

Board member Worth Forbes asked if any lottery money was included in the budget increase from the state.

“That would not be included in these dollars,” Baggett said. “We get about $2 million and use it to offset debt.”

Superintendent Ethan Lenker explained, “We don’t get to see the lottery money. The county receives it off the number of schools built.”

Forbes replied he is always asked about lottery money since some people think the school system sees more of the money than it actually does.

Board Member Benjie Forrest asked Baggett if Pitt County Schools still participated in the Biodiesel4Schools program, which collected used cooking oil to make biodiesel. The biodiesel was sold by Green Circle NC, and a portion of the proceeds was to come back to Pitt County Schools.

However, the district no longer participates.

“Their reporting back to us wasn’t very frequent and I don’t know accurate it was,” Baggett said. “Our involvement has dissipated over the years.”

An amendment increasing the budget is expected to pass at the Board of Education’s Jan. 7 meeting.