ALBEMARLE – The Stanly County Board of Education met Tuesday, September 6, where two updates were given on the state of the district’s facilities and finances.
The first update that the board received was on the status of the district’s facilities.
“All of our high schools, all of them were built in about 1962, and most of them are nearly falling down,” said board member Dr. Rufus Lefler. “We’ve had a lot of discussion about all of the repairs and air conditioning and all that we’re having to do to our facilities to keep them going. We’ve been talking about this for several months, but over the next several months, we’re going to have meetings and conversations with the county commissioners and just give them our long-term plan about our high schools.”
According to Lefler, the current plan in work is to try and start with repairs to the high schools and work their way down to the lower grades. Another area that the board wishes to address is the discrepancy in curriculum available in the various schools across the district.
“If you look at our facilities, we don’t have labs. We don’t have CTE offerings or the facilities to offer those in all of our schools,” Lefler said. “We want to offer equal offerings in the curriculum in all the schools because now some of our schools have most all of the offerings and some of our schools have very little. So we want to equal it out in the future.”
“We’re going to look at several plans. Just to look at 10-15 years down the road because we don’t have the funds to do it now. We just need to sit down with the county commissioners and tell them our plans and see what direction we need to be going in.”
The board was also given an update on the state of the district’s finances.
“We submitted a budget request back in the spring to our commissioners for a lot of the normal funding that we need, but three additional things as well,” said board member Dustin Lisk. “One was for a raise for our teachers, but on top of that, the state mandate came down to pay classified employees a minimum of $15 an hour.”
According to Lisk, in order to meet those, the district is going to need an additional $800,000 just to meet payroll for this year and will need an additional $1 million in recurring funding to fix the pay scale for classified employees.
“North Carolina passed a state budget in July after the fiscal year,” Lisk said. “What that means for Stanly County Schools is that in order to meet bare-minimum payroll, we’re going to run out sometime in the Spring. So we can’t fix the pay scale without the additional funding, and we can’t give our teachers the raises that they need either. I think we’re going to get something done in the future, but there’s going to have to be some tough decisions.”
The district is also looking at even more additional costs, with one of the biggest being child nutrition services which, according to Lisk, have increased by three times.
“What it really means is we’re going to have to have more money,” Lisk said. “We need to think about our school systems, think about what we need to make it work. As a county, we have to decide when are we going to make our schools a higher priority.”
The only action that the board took was the approval of a contract with EdOptions to provide services for Stanly County Virtual Education, an online schooling option for Stanly County Schools students.
The Stanly County Board of Education will next meet October 4.