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CHCCS plans to ask Orange County Commissioners to add funding for staff pay

At its work session on Sept. 1, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education discussed sending a letter to the Orange County Board of County Commissioners to request a budget amendment for staff pay.

The budget amendment asks for an additional $1 million to implement salary and benefit increases for teachers and teacher assistants, which Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law on July 11. 

The original 2023 budget CHCCS presented on May 12 requested an additional $2.37 million to cover local salary and benefits increases. However, it did not factor in the additional increases approved by Gov. Cooper.

Because of the July legislation, salary and benefit increases went up from 2.5 to 4.2 percent for teachers, and from 2.5 to 4.0 percent for teacher assistants.

“Not sure if we will get it, but it doesn’t hurt to ask,” Deon Temne, chairperson of the CHCCS Board, said.

Board member Riza Jenkinssaid CHCCS was only able to cover the increase because it used fund balance under the guidance of the county commissioners. 

She said since Orange County Schools didn’t have the same luxury, it is in dire need of additional funding.

“This is us saying we are going to go together, locked arms, supporting the ask, which we could certainly use as well,” she said. 

The board agreed it would send the letter directly from the CHCCS Board of Education, rather than have the superintendents of the school districts send it, which the Orange County Board of Education had originally proposed.

The County Commissioners did not approve the board’s continuation budget to start with, CHCCS Board of Education member George Griffin said. 

Griffin said he thinks the board has work to do to improve the financial relationship between itself and the Board of Commissioners.

“I’m hesitating a little bit to feel optimistic I guess,” Griffin said. “At the same time, I want to support Orange County Schools if they’re in some dire need — I don't want to jeopardize anything they need.”

Griffin said if the County Commissioners do not approve the continuation budget, the board will have to use their fund balance to pay for the salary and benefit increases. Griffin added that the board has already planned its fund balance expenditures 24 months out. 

“We are not at the same level of need that Orange County is, but we do need this because otherwise, we are floating this and other things out of fund balance,” board member Jillian La Serna said. “If Orange County doesn’t do something, the board is going to be facing some really difficult decisions in a few years.”

Nyah Hamlett, the superintendent of CHCCS, said the district is currently funded for fewer students than it has enrolled, since 250 to 300 students were added to the district since the budget was approved. 

Griffin said the additional enrolled students were not planned for in the board’s fund balance calculation, making additional funding from commissioners even more important.

The board agreed to add data related to student enrollment to their letter to provide more context for commissioners.

Brian Link, the president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Association of Educators, said he was thankful for the board's attempt to acquire the budget amendment. 

“For what you all have courageously done to make sure that our schools are properly and adequately funded, thank you,” Link said. “We firmly support the idea of making it more transparent and visible just what the financial situation is and what the financial commitment will be needed going forward.”

The proposed letter is dated Sept. 15, with the BOCC having meetings scheduled for Sept. 13 and Sept. 20.


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