STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
COUNTY OF HENDERSON
JUNE 15, 1999
The Henderson County Board of Commissioners met for a special called meeting at 5:30 p.m. in the Board of Commissioners building located at 100 North King Street, Hendersonville, NC 28792.
Those present were: Chairman Grady Hawkins, Vice-Chair Bill Moyer, Commissioners Renee Kumor, Commissioner Don Ward, Commissioner Marilyn Gordon, County Manager, David E. Nicholson, Assistant County Manager, Angela S. Beeker, Finance Director, Carey McLelland, and Budget Analyst, Selena Coffey. Also present were representatives from the Henderson County Board of Public Education and staff including Board of Education members Brenda Brock, Melissa Mauer, Linda Hawk, and Jane Orwoll, and interim superintendent Frank Yaeger.
Absent was Clerk to the Board, Elizabeth W. Corn. Angela S. Beeker prepared notes for her.
CALL TO ORDER/WELCOME
Chairman Hawkins called the meeting to order and welcomed all in attendance. He explained that the purpose of this meeting was to hear a presentation from the Henderson County Board of Public Education concerning their proposed budget for the 1999-2000 fiscal year. He announced that the second part of the meeting advertised, to consider the proposed budget for Blue Ridge Community College, would be continued to another date as BRCC President, Dr. Dave Sink, could not attend tonight=s meeting.
Chairman Hawkins then offered a few opening remarks, including that in the 1998-99 fiscal year, the total budget for the Board of Education was $87.0 Million, including all federal, state and local funds. The County=s current year budget is $74.0 Million. He stated that it is good to reflect on the large amount of money that both boards are responsible to manage and get the most from it. He stated that the Board of Education had received a larger percentage increase in their budget as recommended to the Board of Commissioners than any other County agency.
Chairman Hawkins then asked County Manager, David E. Nicholson, to overview his recommendations regarding the proposed school budget.
Mr. Nicholson stated that first he wanted to thank the School Board and Dr. Yaeger for the budget that they submitted. He then reviewed his recommendations regarding the school=s budget. He stated that he was recommending a 7.7% increase in the current expense fund, increasing it to $12,620,573 from $11,717,809, the current expense budget for the current fiscal year. Part of this increase was $368,601 in additional funding for the opening of the new Marlow School. He recommended $1,480,000 in capital expense funding, $200,000 in maintenance program funding, $185,590 as a salary contingency, and an additional $3,685,851 in other funding including $769,500 for the school=s capital reserve fund, $542,342 in ADM funding for the Schools Capital Projects Fund, and $2,374,009 in debt service payments on the 92/98 bonds. Total recommended funding for the Henderson County Board of Public Education is $18,172,014, approximately 30% of the County=s budget.
Mr. Nicholson then stated that Henderson County ranks 21 in the current expense ADM funding in that the proposed ADM funding amount for the FY 1999-2000 budget is $1,050, and misses being 20th by $3.00. This ranking is based upon the 1st month ADM. The March, 1999 of 11,210 would place Henderson County at 19th. Henderson County ranks 30 in the state regarding capital expense funding/ADM in the proposed amount of $458.00.
Chairman Hawkins then asked Dr. Yaeger to present the comments on behalf of the Henderson County Board of Public Education regarding their budget as submitted and as recommended by the County Manager.
Dr. Yaeger began by reviewing statistics with the Board of Commissioners that had been quoted in the paper recently. He stated that the per capital income in 1995 for Henderson County was $22,949, the 10th highest in the State. The per pupil expenditure from State revenues ranks 101st of the 117 school systems in the State. The per pupil expenditure ranks 97 in the State (out of 117) for Federal funding, and 33rd (of 117) in County funding. The total per pupil expenditure of $5,003.56, which includes Federal, State, and County funding, is 88th in the State (of 117). Nationally, 94% of the school districts in America spend more than Henderson County does on its kids. This figure was extrapolated from the fact that the State of North Carolina ranks 40th nationally.
Dr. Yaeger explained that the State system is set up to benefit small or low wealth districts with supplement money. Henderson County gets none of these funds. The State expects the local government to pick up a larger share of the load which accounts for the State ranking of 101. He felt that the system is poor, and that it doesn=t account for things such as cost-of-living, density, or land that is use-value.
Chairman Hawkins agreed with Dr. Yaeger=s comments regarding the State funding formula, calling it hieroglyphics.
Dr. Yaeger thanked the Board for the increase on the capital funding side, for working on a financing package for the elementary schools, and for their consideration in this budget.
School Board member, Brenda Block, also thanked the Board.
The discussion then moved to current expense funding. Dr. Yaeger stated that the State funding formula changed a few years back to a projection formula, statistically derived based on the past, with estimates the school system enrollment at the beginning of school. The only way that an adjustment can be made for the 10th day enrollment (as could be done in the past) is for the 10th day enrollment to exceed the startup projects by 10%. For Henderson County, this would mean 1,100 new students, hardly likely. Additionally, their funding was basically cut this year because they were overfunded in previous years based upon these projections, they had no growth last year, so the result is that they will get approximately $500,000 less this year in State revenues for teachers. This means that they must increase the student/teacher ratio.
Commissioner Moyer questioned where there was no growth. Dr. Yaeger responded that probably the enrollment was flat in K-1, but it could be attributed to a lack of move-ins, and that any moves to private schools also offsets growth. The current elementary numbers scare him however. Having 28-29 students in an elementary school classroom is problematic. He is so concerned that if the Board of Commissioners funds any enhancement monies, he would recommend to the Board of Education that they use these monies to reduce the student/teacher ratio in the worst situations.
Chairman Hawkins requested that Dr. Yaeger also review the loss in revenues attributed to the charter schools. Dr. Yaeger stated that $466,000 in revenues would be paid to the charter school if they have an enrollment of 115. He reviewed a detailed breakdown of this figure with the Board of Commissioners, and the impact of home schooling and private schools as well. He stated that the Board of Education felt that the loss due to the State funding formula, and the loss due to the charter schools, were not the Board of Commissioner=s problem, therefore, they took it upon themselves to make the appropriate budget cuts to absorb these losses. He reviewed other expenses that were not within their control either, but stated that the bottom line is that the money requested was not to get ahead, but to keep from making additional cuts. He publicly thanked Mr. Nicholson and the Board of Commissioners for the 8% increase in the proposed budget as recommended.
It was determined that approximately $133,313 is available in the salary contingency fund as proposed by the County Manager for other uses. This is because the actual increase in salaries was less than had previously been expected for both the certified and non-certified personnel.
Dr. Yaeger then reviewed the proposed enhancement with the Board of Commissioners. He stated that he only included the four that would produce the most important gains for Henderson County. The first is an additional HVAC maintenance technician. He stated that there are 100,000 square feet of air-conditioned space and that approximately 100,000 new square feet of air-conditioned space was coming on line this year, and they have 2 HVAC techs now. He contracts out the rest of the maintenance. The additional HVAC technician would not be enough to avoid contracting in the future, but would significantly lessen the dollars spent contracting out maintenance services.
The second enhancement proposed was an additional half-time teacher for four additional positions. He believes now that the four positions should be used to reduce class sizes.
Commissioner Gordon clarified that the additional teachers as proposed would be lead teachers. Dr. Yaeger confirmed this, that they would be acting as a support person to the teachers for instructional programming. Currently, this is being done by the principals in the elementary schools. There are no assistant principals currently in the elementary schools, so the principal must do everything, including instructional support for the teachers.
Chairman Hawkins questioned the middle schools having assistant principals. Dr. Yaeger responded that in a middle school having 700-800 students, it is normal to have 2 assistant principals. Two assistant principals is average for high schools as well. Where we are lacking is at the elementary school level.
Chairman Hawkins confirmed that Dr. Yaeger would now like to spend the $183,000 proposed for the lead teachers to reduce the class size. Dr. Yaeger stated that these would address only the worst situations.
Commissioner Gordon stated that there is also the excess money in the amount of $133,000 in the salary contingency fund that could be used.
Dr. Yaeger proceeded on the enhancements, stating that the third enhancement was an AG teacher for the middle school. Fourth is 4 computer lab technicians for the High Schools. Currently there are none, and this presents a security problem. Additionally, access by the students is limited as not all of the teachers know how to use the lab.
Chairman Hawkins inquired as to whether any of the Board of Commissioner members had any further questions.
Commissioners Moyer questioned whether it was true that the schools had to raise money to purchase school supplies. He stated that he has always heard this to be the case, and if true, it=s embarrassing.
Dr. Yaeger stated that he applauded the thought, but that this was a universal thing. Henderson County is however worst than most.
Commissioner Kumor stated that she had heard this applied to restroom supplies and cleaning supplies as well.
The Board of Education responded that this was old information and no longer true.
Commissioner Gordon questioned this regarding instructional supplies. Dr. Yaeger responded that we are way short in this area. Schools are raising on the average of $30,000-$40,000 per year on their own.
There was further discussion regarding this issue. The Board of Commissioners asked Dr. Yaeger to look at what he could recommend for the necessary supplies, not the wishes, the needs. Dr. Yaeger stated that he would be glad to do this but it would take some time. It would take some study by all of the principals who are unavailable this time of year.
Chairman Hawkins raised two other areas: School Resource Officers and Middle School nurses. He asked for feed back regarding these issues.
Board of Education member Brenda Brock stated that previously, the Board of Education turned down a grant for middle school resource officers because the grant was only for a short period, and then you were required to continue the program. The Board of Education did not want to place this responsibility on the Board of Commissioners.
Dr. Yaeger stated that he came from a school system that had both SROs and nurses. He stated that it makes a difference, but not in the same league as decreasing the student/teacher ratio, or enhancements for the gifted or slow kids. School nurses would help, especially where you have a large number of kids, but again, this is not at the head of the school priorities. The proposed enhancements would help all of the kids. He stated that he had met with the grant folks regarding the nurses, and that he would build the ramps and help install the modulars, but he would not put any school monies in for operational or capital expenses.
Commissioner Gordon asked if Dr. Yaeger were sitting on their side of the table, where would he spend the $29,000 proposed for the modular units. Dr. Yaeger stated he would use it to reduce class size.
Commissioner Kumor stated that Dr. Yaeger=s priority is education, that it has to be education; but the Board of Health=s priority is health of the children, and the Sheriff=s priority is safety. All have their priorities where they should be, and it isn=t fair to ask Dr. Yaeger to prioritize these things.
School Board member Brenda Brock stated that if the Board of Commissioners funded their budget beyond what is currently proposed, it would be difficult for them if it was conditional on being spent for SROs or school nurses.
Chairman Hawkins clarified that they were not asking which the Board of Education would rather have, but how the SROs or nurses would add to their programs.
Commissioner Moyer stated that he agreed with Dr. Yaeger. He felt that school health and school safety are a part of education. If Dr. Yaeger said that he can=t educate the kids because it=s unsafe, he=d support the SROs for example. The decision all ties in together with what the School Board sees as the priority. The discussion between Commissioner Moyer and Commissioner Kumor continued on this issue. Commissioner Gordon stated that she hadn=t understood that this needed to be decided this evening.
Dr. Yaeger stated that in other states, the state funds security and nurses, but that he had to choose school-by-school where they were necessary. In well-to-do areas, nurses weren=t necessary because the parents attended to their kids needs. In this state, responsibilities are divided, rather than placing them all on the Board of Education which he felt is a mistake.
Commissioner Moyer questioned Dr. Yaeger that if he had a high risk school, what would he do? Dr. Yaeger stated that he=d spend money for security out of school funds because it would be a priority. If he felt it were a priority, he would be presenting a different budget.
At the end of the discussion, Chairman Hawkins thanked everyone for coming. Commissioner Gordon requested that Dr. Yaeger calculate how much would fix the student/teacher ratio problem and get back to them with this number. Dr. Yaeger stated that he could do this fairly quickly, but the supplies calculation will take awhile. Commissioner Gordon stated that she was not looking for exact numbers, just a ball park.
Commissioner Moyer complimented the School Board on its budget. Others agreed.
The meeting was adjourned at 6:40 p.m.
Elizabeth W. Corn, Clerk Grady Hawkins, Chairman