Amount reduced to $328,799.53

LAWRENCEVILLE – The FY20 and FY21 budgets for Brunswick County Public Schools was the topic of discussion at the joint meeting of the Brunswick County Board of Supervisors and the Brunswick County School Board held electronically on Thursday, May 14, 2020. The members of both boards participated.

Dr. Kristy Somerville-Midgette, Division Superintendent, notified Charlette Woolridge, Ph.D. on May 12, 2020 that through attrition, and personnel audit and materials and supplies, the division reduced the FY21 expenditures by $871,200.47. The School Board requested $328,799.53 in additional local funding to account for the $1.2 million shortfall caused by the un-allotments in the Governor’s Biennium budget. The supervisors took no vote on the request. There seemed to be consensus that the supervisors do not have the funds to honor the request.

Earlier the Brunswick County Board of Supervisors voted to level fund all agencies for the upcoming fiscal year and a public hearing was held on both the Brunswick County Public Schools budget and the Brunswick County Consolidated Budget last month.

The supervisors will meet electronically Wednesday, May 20, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. and information about accessing the meeting is found on page 5. Written comments were due by May 19, 2020.

The Local Composite Index for Brunswick County increased from .35 to .42 in this biennium which results in $1.2 million less for our division. When the composite index increases, said Dr. Midgette, it is often considered that the locality will assist with offsetting the costs.

Dr. Midgette said the FY2019-2020 budget was based on an ADM (Average Daily Membership) of 1487 but the ADM was 1477, which is a decrease of 10 students, resulting in approximately $66,675 less in state revenue.

The schools are facing a reduction in state tax revenue. Dr. Midgette provided five scenarios to calculate the loss: Scenario #1 – 1/2 sales tax resulted in a deficit of $257,080.72; Scenario #2 – zero sales tax resulted in a deficit of $596,055.85; Scenario #3 – no sales tax loss resulted in a deficit of $81,894.41; Scenario #4 – 30% sales tax loss resulted in a deficit of $121,490.67; Scenario #5 – 40% sales tax loss resulted in a deficit of $189,285.70.

At the May 14, 2020 meeting Dr. Midgette said the division is slated to receive approximately $664,211.12 in CARES funds due to COVID-19 which should be used for technology initiatives and learning materials to prepare for remote learning in light of deficiencies in local broadband access.

Tracey Rogers, Assistant Division Superintendent, said a portion of the CARES funds goes to Brunswick Academy and that amount is approximately $102,524.

Dr. Midgette said the facilities study was progressing to develop a long range plan for Brunswick County Public Schools but no progress has been made on the project because of COVID-19. She said she asked administration to provide information regarding available space at Totaro Elementary School and Brunswick High School and the results were provided to the School Board at the May board meeting.

Supervisor John Zubrod asked about the savings regarding the facilities that have not been in use because of the closing. He repeated his request to see the cost to operate each school before the crisis hit.

Zubrod said hard decisions have to be made and further stated that everyone will be impacted. He said we all have to learn to live within our means. Zubrod said the supervisors allocate the money but the School Board decides on how the money is spent. He further stated that he could not support allocating more funds.

Supervisor Welton Tyler said the supervisors have always supported the schools. He asked if utilizing space at the Tech Center for the Central Office staff had been considered.

Dr. Woolridge said there is a possibility that the county can apply for funds regarding costs related to COVID-19.

Supervisor Dr. Barbara Jarrett Harris spoke on behalf of her colleagues and said we are all impacted by COVID-19. She further stated that the supervisors are responsible for all county agencies and they don’t know what impact this will have. Dr. Harris said they have to be concerned about all departments. She asked that the supervisors not be made the fall guy and she pledged the support of the supervisors for teachers and staff.

Tracie Seward thanked Dr. Midgette and her team for a job well done in compiling the information. She expressed concern that it is the children of Brunswick County that will be negatively impacted saying the “kids will take the hit.” Seward described it as the “perfect storm” referring to the loss of state funding and the drop in the ADM and increase in the composite index. She said Brunswick County ranks 120 out of 132 in state. She said the division would have ended the fiscal year in a good place if not for the pandemic.

Timothy Puryear also commended Dr. Midgette and said the division did not plan for the shortfall in state funding. He said the division could not afford to lose teachers but the School Board will have to go back to the drawing board.

Dr. Harris said the supervisors heard their comments and pledged the support of the supervisors for Brunswick County students.

Roy Warwick thanked the supervisors for listening to their concerns and praised Dr. Midgette and her team for their hard work compiling the information.

Dr. Midgette said she didn’t mind asking for the additional funding. She thanked the supervisors for listening and looked forward to their continued partnership.