BERLIN – The Worcester County Commissioners expressed no concerns with the school system’s proposed spending plan for the coming year at a work session this week.
During a budget work session Tuesday, the commissioners made no cuts to the Worcester County Board of Education’s proposed budget. Instead, they opted to disregard a staff recommendation to eliminate roughly $400,000 from the proposed budget.
A committee made up of Chief Administrative Officer Harold Higgins, Budget Officer Kathy Whited and Finance Officer Phil Thompson presented the commissioners with recommendations regarding each department’s proposed budget. Higgins said the committee suggested reducing the school system’s $84,912,776 in county appropriations by $399,100.
“The committee adjusted the school construction request downwards,” Higgins said.
The $399,100 was part of $566,100 in school construction projects in the proposed budget. The budget as submitted by the school system included funding for updates to the energy management systems at Buckingham Elementary School and Snow Hill Middle School as well as a new chiller at Stephen Decatur Middle School and a swing at Cedar Chapel Special School. The committee recommended eliminating funding for the chiller at Stephen Decatur Middle and the energy management system upgrade at Snow Hill Middle.
Commissioner Jim Bunting asked his peers to consider leaving funding for those projects in the budget.
“Superintendent [Lou] Taylor made a good reason for needing this,” he said. “The environment for children at those schools is not good. I think those items need to be put back in.”
The commissioners voted unanimously to do so, bringing the school system’s funding from the county back to $84,912,776.
In a presentation this spring, education officials fully outlined the school system’s proposed fiscal year 2018 budget. Roughly 81 percent of the $104,767,501 will be funded by the county. Officials said that while the spending plan did include a 4-percent increase in county funding over the previous year, that increase would allow for rising health insurance costs, fair compensation, transportation needs and capital improvements.