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Orange County Schools Board of Education discusses cost saving for budget projected deficit

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The Orange County Board of Education building, as pictured on Monday, March 28, 2022, is located on East King Street in Hillsborough.

The Orange County Schools Board of Education met on Monday, March 20 to discuss cost savings strategies for the remainder of the fiscal year 2023 and to highlight World Down Syndrome Day.

What’s New?

  • The Board of Education heard a presentation about Orange County School fees for 2023 through 2024.
    • It was proposed to lower elementary school fees for musical instruments from $5 to $0, high school chorus and music library fees from $15 to $0 and district K-12 laptop fees from $20 to $0.
  • The Board of Education heard several public comments on cost-saving strategies for the fiscal year 2023 and fund balance appropriations.
    • Current estimates put the district at $984,600 in unbudgeted expenditures by the end of the fiscal year 2023. Over half of this — $485,000 — was requested to come from the fund balance appropriation to "sustain the projected financial obligation." It also requested that additional reporting on the status of the financial changes come at a future meeting.
    • Rhonda Rath, chief finance officer at OCS, presented the information on cost-saving strategies.
    • She explained that the Board of Education approved certain things to be funded by money from lapsed salaries coming from the vacant positions in the district. However, there is not enough money coming from the lapsed salaries to fulfill expenses.
    • “The actual expense is outpacing the lapsed salaries, and, therefore, if it continues, we will be in an overspending situation,” Rath said.
    • Board member Carrie Doyle said that the additional funding provided to bus services has proven beneficial when compared with other school systems’ transportation issues.
    • “This season has been hard, and I know your team has worked hard to reconcile all these moving parts,” she said.
    • Doyle added that county commissioners have encouraged the Board to use their fund balance as other nearby districts do when there are fund discrepancies.
    • Two other cost-saving strategies for OCS include freezing hiring for central office positions for 90 days and adding conservative measures to emphasize limiting the use of goods and services. 
    • Board Chair Will Atherton noted concern about the cost-saving strategies and said the Board needs work to understand the situation further.
  • The Board of Education recognized World Down Syndrome Day, which was Tuesday, March 21, and encouraged everyone in Orange County schools to choose a pair of socks to celebrate the day.
    • “You are supposed to wear mismatched socks or crazy socks because the karyotype of the Down syndrome chromosome looks like mismatched socks, so it’s a super fun way to celebrate our unique differences in bright and fun ways,” Lillie Herman, an exceptional children teacher at New Hope Elementary School, said. 

What decisions were made?

  • The “Contract Approval for Purchase of Weapon Detection Systems for Secondary Schools” was tabled indefinitely.
  • The school fee changes were approved unanimously. 
  • A $760,000 fund balance transfer to pay for the budget deficit was approved unanimously, along with all cost-saving strategies presented.

What’s Next?

  • The Board of Education will meet again on April 10 at 7 p.m.

@carojean44

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com 


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