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Budget FAQ's
 
 
State-wide Budget Questions:
 
What is the predicted budget deficit for the 2011-2012 school year?
According to many predictions, the state government will be facing a $3.5 to $4.5 billion deficit. 
 
 
What is the cause for such a large budget deficit?
 *  end of federal stabilization funds
 *  end of some state taxes
 *  end of nonrecurring cuts
 *  economic recovery continues to be slow
 
 
 
Why are schools always on the chopping block?
NC’s Public School Fund is the largest chunk of the state budget’s General Fund.  With approximately 40 percent of the state’s overall budget tied up in public schools (K-12), it’s tough to reach spending cut targets without impact to public schools.
 
 
What about the lottery funds – won’t they help?
Lottery funds do help – but they make up only about 3.9 percent of the budget. And, they’re designated for specific purposes – K-3 teachers, More at Four, school construction and scholarships.
 
 
Can’t we just cut administration and leave teachers alone?
Eliminating all administration (NCDPI, central office staff, principals/assistant principals) would total $478 million – less than half of the possible $1 billion
in targeted cuts.
 
 
Why not cut out testing? Wouldn’t that save a lot of money?
Cutting out all testing would save about $11 million - far short of our needed cuts. Also, remember, NC is required to do some testing under federal and state laws.
 
 
Won’t the federal Race to the Top funds help solve our budget problem?
Race to the Top is providing nearly $400 million over four years to North Carolina - but the funds are targeted for specific purposes and not for general use.

The Race to the Top funds cannot be used for saving teacher jobs, purchasing textbooks or instructional supplies, or filling the budget shortfalls faced over the next few years.  Funds are a one-time allocation. RCS will receive approximately $400,000 per year for four years from Race to the Top Funds.

 
 
RCS Focused Questions:
 
 
How is Rockingham County Schools Funded?
67% - State Funding    17% - Local Funding  16% - Federal Funding
Funding chart
 
 
 
What is RCS' predicted budget deficit for the 2011-2012 school year?

For Rockingham County Schools, if state funding is reduced by 5% we would lose $4.9 million. If state funding is reduced by 10% we would lose $7.5 million.

 
 
What percentage of funding is RCS personnel?
81% of our funding goes directly to salary and benefits
 
 
How has RCS planned for this budget shortfall?
A number of steps were taken during the 2009-10 school year, as well as the 2010-11 school year to prepare for the bleak budget. Approximately 118 positions have remained vacant following resignations and retirements. In addition to not filling 118-plus positions, the district has implemented many other cost-saving measures – converted oil burning boilers to natural gas, set temperature controls (71° for heating and 74° for cooling), utilized a software program to analyze utility cost and billing errors, and converting telephone services to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).  Additionally, the past two summers, all central office employees and district administrators, including principals and assistant principals worked four, 10 hour days (saving $140,000 annually).
 
 
Why not cut central office administration?
The central office is always a target for those who do not understand the day-to-day operation of a school system.  RCS central office administrators make up 1.3% of all personnel.  Even if the entire central office staff were cut, the amount of funds would still not cover the anticipated shortfall and the work would still have to be completed.  Regardless of what some people may think, the central office is a viable and important part of the organization of a school system.
Out of 115 school districts in the state, RCS is the 28th largest, however, RCS ranks 65th out of 115 in the size of central office staffing.
 
 
Why can't we spend the money we have been spending on programs or staff development on personnel?

School systems are funded in categories.  Many of the categories cannot be used for anything else except what is designated.  Cutting the budget in these specific categories does not help the budget because the funds could not be used for teachers or other items.  For example, because the school system has been in district improvement, a certain amount of funds must be spent on district training.  Not using these funds for training would result in a reversion back to the federal budget.  If the school district comes out of district improvement this year, these funds will be able to be used at the school level.

 
 
Why not use the district's fund balance to save jobs?
The school system's fund balance is the equivalent of a personal savings account balance. It is never good to use fund balance for recurring items (items that will need to be paid every year like salaries) because eventually the funds will be gone.
 
 
 
Questions submitted via the Budget Question Form:
 
 
Why can’t RCS have a four-day work week to save money? School days could be lengthened to make up the time.

The RCS school calendar is largely controlled by the state. The state legislature requires 180 days of school AND 1000 contact hours to satisfy the requirements for a full school year.

 
 
Can RCS implement furloughs to save money?
RCS cannot implement furloughs. Furloughs require a governor’s executive order to enact and execute.
 
 
If teacher job elimination is necessary, how will the district decide who is eliminated? 

The district will follow the reduction enforce policy if teacher job elimination is necessary.  This is Board Policy 7920 (click the policy number to view).

 

 
Since 118 positions were not filled and the ABC bonuses have been done away for the last two years, what has happened to the money?

With the state’s reversions and budget cuts from 2008-2011, RCS has lost approximately $6.3 million in state funding.  Over the past three years, the reduction in 118 positions through attrition and retirements is equivalent to approximately $4.1 million (leaving a balance of $2.2 million). By the elimination of 118 positions, utilizing the fund balance and implementing additional energy management techniques RCS was able to equalize the budget without any employee layoffs.

 

ABC funding was never budgeted to Rockingham County Schools.  The funding for the ABC money was provided through the state, therefore, the elimination in ABC funding had no impact on RCS’ budget.
 
 
If the governor was able to use the lottery money to balance the budget, why can't it be used the way most people thought it was going to be used--to help the education budget?
The majority of lottery proceeds - 65 percent - go to prizes, retailers and administration. The remaining 35 percent is divided up into four categories after 5 percent is taken out for a lottery reserve fund:
*     40 percent goes to school construction costs
*     50 percent is used by the General Assembly to provide teachers to  reduce class size in kindergarten through third grade and to provide for pre-kindergarten classes
*    10 percent goes to need-based college scholarships
Under current law, none of the funds can be used to offset budget deficits in other areas however, for the 2010-11 school year County Commissioners/School Boards were able to convert their lottery proceeds from capital outlay funding to teacher positions.  More information is available from the lottery's Website.
 
 
 
I noticed that you listed all the things the Race to the Top money could not be used for. Would you please tell us how this money will be used?
RCS has submitted the Scope of Work Plan to the NCDPI for approval.  The plan has not yet been approved but, may be viewed by clicking here.
 
 
Your FAQ answer to a 4 day week was not clearly answered.  A 4 day week with extended school hours could help to save funds, other districts in our state are using a 4 day school calendar.  

Currently, North Carolina G.S. 115C-84.2 states: Each local board of education shall adopt a school calendar consisting of 215 days all of which shall fall within the fiscal year. A school calendar shall include the following: A minimum of 180 days and 1,000 hours of instruction covering at least nine calendar months. The local board shall designate when the 180 instructional days shall occur. (Additional requirements are also included)

 

This law is being confused with the pilot program in Wilkes County.  This program was approved by the General Assembly for Wilkes County, only. The program was implemented initially in the 2009-2010 school year in Wilkes County and recently reviewed in the summer before being re-approved for another school year. The N.C General Assembly is permitting according to the law that the school system meet state standards by meeting 1000 instructional hours instead of the 180 days. The Wilkes County Public school hybrid calendar is a 162 day calendar for a nine month school period (instead of the traditional 10 month). Students attend school 5 days a week and are in the classroom for an additional 45 minutes.

 

Also, other counties that are “considering” 4 day work weeks are referring to 12 month employees during the summer months when school is not in session.  RCS implemented the summer, 4 day (10 hours each day) work week in the summer of 2009.
 
 
My question is could we all take a paycut of a certain percentage, across the board?  I'm not asking for certain levels that are employed... I'm talking from the lowest man on the totem pole all the way to the superintendant.  If we all took a 4-10% cut, couldn't we keep more jobs available?
Salary schedules are set by state guidelines.  RCS’ only control is in local supplements.  We currently spend approximately $2 million on local supplements.  Please see the following figures to note the savings if we reduced our local supplements:

Reduction By:                Savings:

      ½ %                          $200,000

       1%                           $400,000

       2%                           $800,000

       3%                           $1,200,000
 
 
If a teacher's position is going to be cut how soon will we know so we can plan to look elsewhere?
Elected officials returned to Raleigh on Wednesday, January 26, 2011, to begin work as the first Republican-dominated legislature since 1870. 
 
We suspect, in early February the Governor will present her budget followed by the House budget proposal and the Senate budget proposal.  It has been as early as July 1 and as late as mid-December that the final budget has passed.  We hope by May that we will have a better idea of what our allotments might be.
 
 
 
Where can teacher assistants get a copy of the "point system" or be notified of how many points they have?

Teacher Assistant Points 

    * Four points are given to TAs who possess a bus license and a regular bus
      route.
    * Three points are given to TAs who work in auxiliary positions, such as
      teaching computer lab, music, art, ISS, media or administrative assistants.
    * Two points are given to teacher assistants who possess a CDL but are 
      without a regular bus route.
    * One point is given to teacher assistants who provide medical services,
      (diabetes, catheterization) or who possess preschool credentials or works
      with behavioral (day treatment, Outreach or BED). Only 1 point may be
      earned for medical services – regardless of the number of medical services
      provided.
 
 
 

Why can't we temporarily stop enrichment staff development that includes expensive stipends for teachers? Cutting summer enrichment programs would not impact employees like a pay cut or loss of position.  

School systems are funded in categories.  Many of the categories cannot be used for anything else except what is designated.  Cutting the budget in these specific categories does not help the budget because the funds could not be used for teachers or other items.  For example, because the school system has been in district improvement, a certain amount of funds must be spent on district training.  Not using these funds for training would result in a reversion back to the federal budget.  If the school district comes out of district improvement this year, these funds will be able to be used at the school level.
 
 
 

I see the response to the 4 day school week question listed as the state requirement of 180 Days AND 1000 contact hours.  My question is 'why is it in the news that other school systems are considering this? Are they interpreting the law differently/incorrect (as in 180 OR 1000 hours) or are they planning to ask the state for special permission if they choose to actually consider this as an option?

You are correct, the State Law currently states 180 days and 1000 hours.  As far as we know,  other counties that are “considering” 4 day work weeks are referring to 12 month employees during the summer months when school is not in session.  RCS implemented the summer, 4 day (10 hours each day) work week in the summer of 2009.  For any North Carolina public school system to go to four-day weeks, state legislators would have to eliminate the requirement that districts have both 180 days of school and at least 1,000 hours of instruction.
 
 
 

Do EC Assistants receive any extra points? Do you receive points if you are certified to restrain students even if you are not in a BED class? Are the assistant teacher cuts going to be made based on points at your individual school or will it be based on your point standing countywide?

Points are given only according to the Teacher Assistant point plan (only items in this list acquire points):

Teacher Assistant Points Plan

 

  • Four points are given to TAs who possess a bus license and a regular bus route.
  • Three points are given to TAs who work in auxiliary positions, such as teaching computer lab, music, art, ISS, media or administrative assistants.
  • Two points are given to teacher assistants who possess a CDL but are without a regular bus route.
  • One point is given to teacher assistants who provide medical services, (diabetes, catheterization) or who possess preschool credentials or works with behavioral (day treatment, Outreach or BED).  Only 1 point may be earned for medical services – regardless of the number of medical services provided.

Any Teacher Assistant reduction in force will be based on points, district wide.