The Iredell-Statesville Schools Board of Education continued discussions on the 2019-20 budget at Monday night’s board meeting.
After the board expressed at the July meeting its desire to use no more than $1.5 million in fund balance it further directed the budget committee to reconvene with the directive to evaluate all expenses for any possible reductions or cuts.
The budget committee met on July 23 with three board members in attendance, but stated it did not find any further cuts. The committee, instead, recommended adding two more positions to next year’s budget, an athletic trainer at West Iredell and an assistant principal at Lake Norman Elementary.
Chairman Martin Page implored the board to use caution and patience in discussing the numbers as absolute due to the fact that the state budget has yet to be signed. Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the budget passed by the North Carolina House and Senate last month.
Bill Howell voiced his displeasure with the results of the budget committee’s July meeting, noting that he thought the purpose of the meeting was to find areas to cut, not to add to an already tight budget before admitting he understood the importance of these positions. Howell and Charles Kelly both questioned why these positions were not in the original budget before moving on.
Howell has been a leading voice for giving classified teachers (teacher assistants, child nutrition and primetime employees) a raise and reminded the board on Monday night that he has been fighting for this raise and an hourly raise for bus drivers for three years.
It is likely that these issues will be discussed in further detail at the Aug. 12 board meeting. This includes a motion Howell indicated he would make to give classified teachers' raises. That's a move that would cost the school system approximately $220,000, said Chief Financial Officer Melissa Wike.
As for now, the board decided to table the discussion without any concrete answers, allowing Wike to determine ways to keep the use of the fund balance around $1.5 million and hoping they have more answers from the state legislature before next week’s meeting.