LGC approves funds for Burke capital projects [The News Herald, Morganton, N.C.]
(News Herald (Morganton, NC) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jan. 16--MORGANTON, Nc -- Burke County Public Schools will continue to receive low-wealth funding from the state as the Local Government Commission approved a request from the Burke County Board of Commissioners to use up to $2.1 million of Article 42 sales tax money for the county's capital projects instead of school capital projects.
Superintendent Larry Putnam informed the Board of Education of the news Monday night during a board work session.
The school board and commissioners agreed in September to petition the LGC to divert the half-cent sales tax money to the county.
The agreement followed months of meetings and negotiations between the two boards after commissioners cut local funding to the schools by $2.9 million over the previous year.
The cuts put the schools in jeopardy of losing $3.5 million in 2015 from the state, which provides money to school systems deemed "low wealth"
The county originally cut local funding to the schools so it could pay for upgrades to decades-old tax software and electrical systems and replace heating and air units.
The trade-off in sales tax money means the schools will receive at least $13.1 million in local funds -- the threshold to be eligible for low wealth funding -- and the county can afford its capital projects.
The school board received other budget news Monday in the form of the external audit report from representatives at Lowdermilk, Church, and Co.
Highlights of the audit for the 2011-12 budget year include $12.9 million in assets; $21 million in revenue and $16 million in expenditures.
The fund balance is listed at $12.4 million on the report. Finance officer Keith Lawson explained $4.9 million of that is restricted money and $1.1 million has been spent out of the fund balance on capital projects this year, leaving $6.4 million available in the "rainy-day fund."
The child nutrition program continues to operate at a loss, which last budget year totaled $82,523.
Robert Murray, director of Safe Schools for Burke County Public Schools, briefed the board on safety concerns. He said since the mid-1990s when the system formed a safe schools task force Burke "has been way ahead of the curve."
He said training, drills, consultants and a school-based mental health program have helped make the schools "as safe as possible" and "if something does happen will help minimize the bad."
In recent months the school system has installed cameras on buses and reconfigured entrances at some of the schools.
Putnam added in his report to the board the school system is still looking at ways to fund more school resource officer positions.
Presentations to the board
Auxiliary Services Director Doug Setzer gave reports on safety upgrades, roofing projects, energy-efficient efforts and an update on renovating Jeter Hall on the North Carolina School for the Deaf campus for STEM and vocational courses.
Transportation Director John Cansler gave an overview of how the bus garage, routes and maintenance schedules operate.
Representatives from helmet maker Riddell gave a presentation on 5-star safety rated helmets to help reduce concussions.
In his superintendent's report, Putnam reported:
In finalizing the curriculum for a vocational, career, tech and STEM classes to be offered on the campus of NCSD, Mandarin Chinese may be one of the languages taught.
The bring-your-own-wireless-device program will be rolled out for students at Patton and East Burke high schools in the coming weeks and at Freedom and Draughn next, followed by the middle schools and then elementary schools. Upgrades in wireless technology at all schools allow for teachers, students and visitors to hook into the Internet with their own laptops or notebooks on campus.
The final SACS CASI report was submitted Monday. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement removed the county's four high schools from accreditation probation in February and required a final progress report from the school system as part of its advisement phase.
The 1,000 MacBooks the school system ordered have arrived. Each school is getting 25.
The workforce subcommittee will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Central Office on East Park Road.
The regular school board meeting is 6 p.m. Jan. 28 at the West Concord Street Resource Center.
The five-year planning subcommittee will meet at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 5 at Central Office on East Park Road.
(c)2013 The News Herald (Morganton, N.C.)
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