BY KARISSA MILLER
Iredell-Statesville Board of Education members told district administrators to “hire who you normally hire” this week and stressed there was no hiring freeze in place.
North Carolina public school systems are bracing for potential revenue shortfalls caused by a decline in sales tax revenue as a result of business closures and social-distancing measures implemented by Gov Roy Cooper to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Due to a budget impasse between Cooper and the N.C. General Assembly, school districts were forced to operate in 2019-2020 on the same state funding as the previous year.
But there has been some good news on the funding front. I-SS will receive $3.7 million from federal CARES Act funds for COVID-19 related expenditures. The Iredell County Board of Commissioners also increased the district’s current expense funding by $6.8 million for 2020-2021.
During Monday’s I-SS board meeting, board member Sam Kennington led a discussion regarding the agenda item: “Potential freeze for hiring and expenditures.”
“I really regret that it got out into the community that we had approved a hiring freeze. We did not do that. We don’t vote at the Committee of the Whole meetings,” Kennington said, referring to the June 1 meeting.
Kennington said that at that meeting he was hashing out his concerns regarding student enrollment, state funding and what the school year will look like next year.
However, since then the picture has become clearer.
A few days after that meeting, the district received word that the state will approve Average Daily Membership, ADM, or enrollment figures, increases for school systems.
Also, the staff updated the board on student projections for next year based on some initial feedback they received from parents.
The board unanimously approved contracting 1,063 teaching positions and the hiring of teacher assistant positions.
Chairman Martin Page said the board is expected to discuss the budget again in July.
In other business, the board:
♦ Approved maintaining school lunch meal prices for the 2020-2021 school year due to families hurting financially from COVID-19. A school lunch at elementary schools will cost $2.80. Middle and high school students will pay $2.95 for their meal. Breakfast is $1.40.
♦ Approved a contract with Pope McMillian, PA to provide legal services to the board through June 30, 2021. The contract includes an hourly rate of $195 for attorney services and lowered rates for paralegal services.
♦ Approved a budget continuation resolution for the district to continue operating until funding from the state and federal governments is determined.
♦ Approved the 2020-2021 CTE (Career Technical Education) Local Application System, which is the used for strategic planning and assuring accountability for CTE. According to CTE Director Todd Williams, some of the planned expenditures for the 2020-2021 school year include the following:
• Equipment for the Nursing Fundamental course at Statesville High School.
• Purchase of supplies and materials to meet or exceed course learning objectives in all CTE program areas at all middle and high schools.
• Field trips for students in CTE classes.
• Various credential assessments for students.
• Classroom technology upgrades as needed. Examples: Smart TVs, Projectors, Computers, etc.
• Professional development for all CTE teachers.