Board of Education members sound off on funding deficiencies

Board approves purchase of new chiller unit

ALBEMARLE – The Stanly County Board of Education met Tuesday, February 7, with a handful of committee reports and a facilities matter on the agenda.

The first item from the meeting was an update by Board Member Dustin Lisk from the finance committee. 

“We did have a brief conversation on our funding structure for the next fiscal year,” said Lisk. “The finance department is finalizing some preparations on that. Our priorities will be teacher supplements, classified pay scale, and some of our capital needs, among other things.” 

Out of that committee, Lisk also brought forth two items for the board to vote on, those being a budget resolution update and a coaching supplement scale. 

“The board has already approved this budget,” Lisk said. “We’ve continued to add students in ADM, so we’re just updating some of our estimates which is pretty typical. That number right now is appropriated at both state and local funding at about $61.1 million. Most of it is state funding.” 

“There is also two, really one position, that we need to add, and that’s for Stanly Middle School for a JV Volleyball coach. We’d like to move the assistant volleyball position from a Grade 6 to a Grade 5. That means they get a little bit of a bump in supplement, and it will align with the JV volleyball coach supplement. The cost to the school system will be no higher than $9,400. It could be less. The JV coach out of that is roughly $4,000-7,000, and the cost to increase the assistant volleyball coach to a Grade 5 will cost anywhere from $1,400 to $2,200 for the season.” 

Both items were approved by the board. 

The final action the board took was the approval of the purchase of a new chiller unit for Norwood. 

“This was something that came up and became an issue after we had already approved the capital budget last year,” said Director of Maintenance Todd Bowers. “I’m coming before you tonight to ask for $174,500 out of capital funds to proceed with this project.” 

“It’s working, but we lost half of the circuit. Of course, right now, we’re not in the summer months, but last summer was when we lost it. We’re operating at half capacity. And it’s been doing alright; we run it a little longer than we have to. Hopefully, it will make it till the next.” 

According to Bowers, the chiller is set to take 46 weeks to arrive, which is substantially quicker than other bids. He also stated that a temporary chiller could also be rented in the event that it still doesn’t arrive in time. 

At the conclusion of the Stanly County Board of Education meeting, board member Bill Sorenson sounded off on both the Stanly County Board of Commissioners and the NC General Assembly. 

“People are failing our kids,” Sorenson said. “Our county commission is failing these children. Not for me to point it out, but they are failing them miserably. I think we’re 85th in the state out of 115 in local funding. They’re children. They’re not numbers on a spreadsheet, numbers on a ledger. They’re not an ADM number. They’re human beings that are full of hope, potential, and love.”  

Sorenson then continued to say, “the biggest thing that aggravates me is that I came through the school system here in Stanly County. Back in the ’70s, we had exponentially better funding back then. When my kids came through South Stanly in the ’90s, they had better funding and better opportunities. We’re on a slippery slope, and how far do we have to go till people in positions of power wake up? I demand our county commission get off this tack of, ‘how can we make it cheaper to put our kids to school?’ and start doing their job. I demand Wayne Sasser and Carl Ford go up to Raleigh and get off their chairs and stand up and say we cannot do this to our kids anymore. The society we’re building for our kids is going to fail if we don’t start investing in our children. I apologize for pontificating, but I don’t apologize at all for the words.” 

Lisk followed up Sorenson’s comments with additional comments about the situation but with a more optimistic tone. 

“Stanly County Schools does not have any taxing authority,” Lisk reminded everyone. “We are funded strictly by the federal government, the state government, and our local county commissioners. This makes it very difficult on our local leadership to hire and retain when the funding structure is the way that it is. And again, we’re working with the county commissioners. I think we have a great set of commissioners, and communication is happening, and I believe we’re going to find solutions for the taxpayers within their best interests.” 

The Stanly County Board of Education will next meet March 7.