Schools predict big state funding loss

By Jeff Linville -

FLAT ROCK — Surry County Schools is seeking more than $10.5 million in funding from the county, according to the budget proposed this week to the county Board of Education.

Like Mount Airy City Schools, the county district is seeking an increase in per-pupil funding from $1,115 to $1,175. With an expected daily enrollment of 7,957 students next year, that comes to nearly $9.35 million.

The school system also is seeking an increase in capital outlay to $150 per student. That equals more than $1.19 million.

The $60 increase in per-pupil funding would come to $477,420, based on the expected average daily membership.

However, nearly half that amount is offset by the fact that enrollment will drop next year. The district estimated that number at 200 students across its 19 schools. At the current $1,115 rate, that means a loss of $223,000 next year if the county leaves funding levels the same.

Dr. Travis Reeves, superintendent, told the board that just to break even with current funding would mean an increase from $1,115 to $1,143.

That doesn’t take into account expected state funding losses unrelated to the county Board of Commissioners, Reeves explained to the school board.

Reductions in state allotments could cost the district 11.5 teachers and three teacher assistants, as well as the loss of a 10-month position in career and technical education, two months of school-based administration expense, an instructional support spot and a non-instructional support job.

School officials told the board that they also could lose $70,724 in low-wealth funding, $15,476 for from the Disadvantaged Student Supplement Fund, $22,510 for the Limited English Proficient project and $60,185 for textbooks.

Added all up, the district said this results in a net decrease of $1,188,362.

Trying to boost the local funding to cover this loss would mean an additional increase of $149 per pupil.

Cutting some teaching positions might be possible, but the school district also has to meet state rules for class size and cutting teachers could increase class size.

Which leads to the big unknown at this point: will the General Assembly pass HB 13?

Right now, state legislation has reduced class sizes for kindergarten to third grade. HB 13 would compromise between current limits and the new ones going into effect this fall.

If HB 13 doesn’t pass, Reeves told the board earlier this month that it could cost an extra $833,000 to hire enough teachers for those grade levels. Throwing in a few teaching assistants, too, would put the cost at more than $1 million.

Without any additional funding from the state, Reeves said that some other teaching posts might have to be eliminated. This could affect some non-core speciality courses like art, band, chorus and physical education.

Also, Reeves said earlier in the month that if the county needs extra classes to reduce the teacher-to-student ratio, then the district might have to rent mobile classrooms to provide extra space. He said it would take nine trailers to provide that much space.

If HB 13 does pass, then the compromise would mean that Surry only needs to add five teachers to the K-3 levels. And, it would need to add any trailers.

All of this funding doesn’t include special capital requests.

The county district also is seeking funding for roof work at Franklin Elementary, the second wing at North Surry and the central office; new visitor bleachers at East Surry’s football stadium; architectural fees for redesigning the bus garage; and other repairs/renovatioins targeted in Phase I of a three-phase plan.

Reeves said he would be meeting with school officials from Mount Airy and Elkin to see what funding needs those districts have. Then the schools will present their budget requests to the commissioners next month.

By Jeff Linville

Reach Jeff at 415-4692.

Reach Jeff at 415-4692.

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