Year-end financials were the topic of the day as the Burke County Board of Education met for a work session on Monday at Morganton’s Olive Hill Resource Center.
With Burke County Public Schools in the midst of summer vacation and about to end its fiscal year, Finance Officer Keith Lawson presented the board with both a continuing budget resolution and a list of capital projects being undertaken this summer.
Those projects include $160,000 for awnings at Oak Hill and Salem elementary schools, $125,000 for paving at W.A. Young and Valdese elementary schools, $100,000 for restoration of the Freedom High School tennis courts, $75,000 for repairing the Icard Elementary School media center floor, $58,000 to replace a 25-year-old wheelchair lift at Mull Elementary School, $45,000 to replace 16 exterior doors at Liberty Middle School, $40,000 for fencing at the Freedom softball batting cage, $35,000 for replacement of custodial equipment (scrubbers, wet/dry vacuums, carpet shampooers), $20,000 for upgrades to the Hillcrest Elementary School restroom HVAC, $15,000 for updates to Hildebran Elementary School including new white boards and $10,000 for repairs to the top of the press box at the Draughn High School football field.
Lawson also presented a list of projects being completed using money from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.
Those include window replacements at Forest Hill Elementary School, replacement of cafeteria units at George Hildebrand Elementary School, new windows and HVAC units at Hildebran, a new chiller at Ray Childers Elementary School, a new concession stand and restrooms at Ray Childers, replacement of HVAC units at the Salem gymnasium, chiller replacements at three middle schools (Heritage, Liberty and Walter Johnson), a lower gymnasium HVAC unit replacement (for the chorus room and dressing rooms) and main building units at East Burke High School, a lower gymnasium HVAC unit (for the chorus room and dressing rooms) at Freedom, a new kitchen unit in the Draughn cafeteria, an HVAC rebuild at North Liberty School, and a new safe school entrance at Hillcrest.
The continuing budget resolution Lawson presented, which represents 50% of projected 2022-23 revenues, totaled $73,566,701, including $43,407,329 in state funds (59%), $15,357,326 in federal funds (20.9%), $8,553,914 in local funds (11.6%), $3.2 million for the child nutrition program (4.3%) and $3,048,132 from Fund 8 (4.1%).
The state funds are appropriated for $38,383,984 in instructional services, $4,991,561 in system-wide support services and $31,784 in ancillary services.
Federal funding is appropriated for $9,159,287 in instructional services, $6 million in system-wide support services and $198,039 in non-programmed charges.
Local fund revenue comes from $8,274,603 from county appropriation, $162,500 from fines and forfeitures, $109,357 from the fund balance and $7,454 from school receivables. Local funds are appropriated for $5,291,663 in system-wide support services, $2,796,996 in instructional services and $465,255 in non-programmed charges.
Child nutrition program revenue comes from $2.7 million from federal revenues, $496,000 from local revenues and $4,000 from state revenues.
And Fund 8 revenue comes from $2,303,005 from the federal program, $255,750 from state allocation, $37,635 from the fund balance and $451,742 from other sources. Fund 8 is appropriated for $1,251,418 in instructional services, $942,013 in system-wide support services, $804,378 in non-programmed charges and $50,323 in ancillary services.
The school board will hold its regular meeting this coming Monday at noon, also at Olive Hill.
Child nutrition and Community Eligibility Provision
According to information presented to the board, BCPS served 1,108,800 breakfasts and 1,230,944 lunches in 2022-23, marking increases of 11.8% and 1.1% from 2021-22. The school system also served 59,400 suppers and 49,980 snacks during the school year.
The possibility of adoption of the Community Eligibility Provision also was presented. CEP provides free breakfast and lunch to students in low-income counties. If BCPS adopts it, the provision would provide free breakfast and lunch to all BCPS students and families would no longer need to fill out free and reduced lunch applications. Federal reimbursement is based of SNAP and TANF benefits for students.
The presentation showed a breakdown of revenues and expenses between the traditional child nutrition program and the CEP program.
Traditional revenue is $7,572,477.88 versus total expenses of $8,064,269.86 for a loss of $491,791,98 while CEP revenue is $7,965,567 versus the same total expenses for a loss of $98,702.86, making the CEP benefit over the traditional program $393,089.12.
The current free and reduced rate is 69% of BCPS students whereas with CEP, it would be 91% and the remaining 9% of students would still receive free meals.
Additionally, if BCPS adopts CEP, every BCPS student would receive a $30 credit on their family internet bill and an EBT card with $40 per month for summer 2024 to assist with food purchases during the break. Lunch debt collection would be eliminated, as would, BCPS says, the stigma associated with free or reduced lunch.
BCPS Superintendent Mike Swan gave a presentation to the school board with updates and informational items.
As of June 13, the school system had vacancies for 21 certified positions and 14 classified positions, with the greatest needs being in English language arts/English, exceptional children and related services. So far for the 2023-24 school year, there are 40 new certified hires and nine classified new hires, compared to 109 and 46 at the start of the 2022-23 school year and 63 and 34 at the start of the 2021-22 school year.
The presentation noted that Burke Virtual Academy enrollment has decreased as expected over the past year. Fewer than 90 students in kindergarten through eighth grade expressed interest in Virtual Academy for the 2023-24 school year, with only 14 of those in kindergarten through second grade. The presentation noted that foundational reading is considered to be very important and difficult to teach virtually and that a decision was made to offer Virtual Academy for grades 5-8 for 2023-24 to allow those who have been in the program for several years to continue. French foreign language classes will again be offered virtually to students at all four high schools.
Dogwood Health Trust gave a $22,000 grant toward renovation of the former Chesterfield Elementary School property, including a feasibility study and a teacher and first-responder housing opportunity.
Elementary summer programs include remediation and re-testing that took place June 12-15 at all elementary schools for identified fourth- and fifth-grade students. Summer reading camps started June 14 and are ongoing through June 29 with 589 students at 11 school sites, serving first through third grades and using Read-to-Achieve legislation to set guidelines of 72 hours of intensive literary instruction.
Middle school summer programs include EOG remediation and re-testing that took place June 12-15 and two periods of summer enrichment programs, the first of which ran June 19-22 before the second takes place June 26-29 to address student learning loss (academic, social and emotional) with breakfast, lunch and transportation provided and field trips planned including a Biltmore sustainability tour and visits to the Burke County History Museum, Grandfather Mountain, the Discovery Place and a Hickory Crawdads minor-league baseball game.
High school summer programs include EOC remediation and re-testing that took place June 12-15, course credit recovery opportunities from June 19-22 and June 26-29 and North Carolina Virtual Public School where students have the opportunity to take courses for initial credit.
Justin Epley can be reached at [email protected].