New Hanover County Board of Education members received a one-hour lesson Tuesday, deemed Finance 101 Training, to better understand what the nearly $236 million school system budget includes and what steps to take for the upcoming budget.
The training arose after board members requested to be included in the budget process during an April meeting, when they admitted that they did not have a full grasp on budget items and criticized how they were asking New Hanover County for more than they needed.
Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley and chief financial officer Mary Hazel Small presented and answered questions about the budget during the Tuesday, Sept. 17, work session, before board members named their top budget priorities.
The top seven goals, which will drive the budget process, are to improve and increase teacher supplements, support Academically and Intellectually Gifted programs, maintain arts funding, technology, Exceptional Children funding, safety and security, and vocational education.
Dr. Derrick Hickey and Ed Higgins disagreed about teacher supplements, with Hickey in opposition and Higgins in favor.
“I might actually suggest that this is a great budget committee discussion,” Markley said.
Higgins, who has prior experience on a school board finance committee, will serve as chair of the budget development committee. The two other committee members will be chosen via email during the next few days depending on their schedules and other committee obligations.
During the tutorial, Markley and Small explained how to find line items in the budget book, but also gave some random budget facts and important dates.
A common New Hanover County Board of Commissioners’ question is how many teachers are funded locally, Markley said.
The budget includes 3,659 full-time employees with benefits and the 25,869 students counted during the 10-day count on Tuesday, Sept. 10. The official 20-day student count will be calculated on Tuesday, Sept. 24. Those numbers will be used for funding for the remainder of the 2013-14 school year.
Each year the county requests the NHCS budget by April 15. County manager Chris Coudriet requested the 2014-15 budget be presented per pupil, like it does from state and federal governments.
Central office reorganizes
Markley announced earlier during the work session that attorney Wayne Bullard will transfer to an in-house attorney as soon as he closes out current business obligations on Oct. 10.
“I think it will be a great benefit to the system in many ways,” Chairman Don Hayes said.
With Bullard’s new position and Dale Pelsey-Becton, assistant superintendent for instruction and academic accountability, retiring, Markley announced plans to restructure the central office.
The main change will be promoting Dr. Rick Holliday from assistant superintendent for support service to deputy superintendent. Holliday will oversee legal counsel, public information, student support services, exceptional children, safety and some school principals.