ALBEMARLE — Stanly County Schools superintendent Jeff James says the county school system has solved a budget controversy that had plagued the system since his recent hiring. In a press release, James said that a forecasted budget deficit of approximately $800,000 had resulted in “many sleepless nights” for the school board and administration.
The budget concerns arose in late January when school system officials discussed shortfalls in the county’s education budget. Some blamed a change in state policy related to Medicaid, but in an interview, James said that claim was without merit. Instead, James said the budget hole — which amounts to about 1.5% of the budget — was a result of the school system not adjusting spending in lockstep with slightly lower revenue from the state based on enrollment. “When I was first hired as Superintendent, there was much concern regarding the fact that our budget would end the year in a deficit of approximately $800,000,” said James. “It is with great pleasure that I announce tonight, March 26, 2018 that Stanly County Schools no longer faces this fiscal cliff.”
In his statement, James said that the district had closed the budget hole without any additional funds from the county or Stanly County taxpayers. James credited a “fiscal urgency plan” that he presented to the school board on February 7. The plan included a hiring and spending freeze for certain non-classroom areas and a thorough review of the system budget. “We also poured over every aspect of the budget, line by line, and identified areas where money could be better utilized,” said James. James also put the notion of a budget amendment from the County Commissioners to rest.” We will not need to ask County Commissioners for additional funds to balance the budget this year,” said James.
James also promised to continue to evaluate every department to improve efficiencies and said spending priorities would be focused on the classroom.