The Orange County Board of Education unanimously approved the district’s Local Operating Budget for the 2023 fiscal year in its meeting on Monday.
The budget totaled near $40.5 million — a $5.42 million increase from last year. This equates to $5,043 per pupil, which is a $676 increase from the 2021-2022 school year.
Over the past five years, OCS Chief Finance Officer Rhonda Rath said that federal funding for schools has increased by roughly 340 percent as a result of the infusion of COVID-19 funds.
North Carolina has increased its support by 14.5 percent, but local funding has only increased by about 6.9 percent. Rath noted that while the state has continued to fund necessary salary and benefit increases over the past several years, Orange County seems to be lagging behind.
OCS Superintendent Monique Felder introduced the budget discussion to the board and said the district is focusing on student wellbeing.
“As we continue to navigate this budget season, we are maintaining a laser-like focus on the whole child, our student achievement, the social and emotional wellbeing,” Felder said.
She said that in order to promote student success, it is important that all OCS staff — including bus drivers, child nutrition workers, custodians, teachers and principals — are appropriately compensated.
Rath presented updates to the original budget recommendation that was proposed in the March 7 board meeting.
The district also approved $1.1 million to account for staff salary increases and other continuation budget expenses. The funds accommodate a clause in the biennium state budget that included a 2.5 percent pay increase for school staff.