by Alan Hodge
Like a locomotive slowly gathering speed before rushing to its final destination, Union County Public Schools officials have been working on the system’s 2011-2012 budget.
That’s the gist of a report given to the Board of Education Tuesday night at Cuthbertson High School by Superintendent Dr. Ed Davis.
According to Davis, meetings on the budget were held Feb. 7 and 21. Topics for those meetings included setting an agenda for more talks as well as the impact the final budget could have on teachers.
“We got down to business,” Davis said. “But we are just scratching the surface.”
The next meeting is set for March 7th where possible budget impacts on teacher assistant positions will come under study. Davis said he and school board chairman Dean Arp plan to go to Raleigh on March 9 to meet with legislators concerning the impact state cuts could have.
“I applaud the governor for protecting the classroom in her budget,” Davis said.
More meetings with the UCPS budget committee are set for March 10, 18, and 22.
Any way you slice it, the coming fiscal year will be a tight one for UCPS. Davis estimates cuts in the range of 10-12 percent.
In his report Tuesday, Davis revealed he has instructed his staff to take a hard look at their expenses and justify them.
“We are coming up with contingency plans,” he said. “We are loading the gun but hope we don’t have to pull the trigger. We must plan for the worst case but also for the best case scenario.”
Davis also said he had a “very cordial” meeting with Union County officials concerning the impact that cuts to the overall county budget could have on the school system.
“Schools make up 57-58 percent of the total budget,” Davis said. “The county could have a $13.9 million shortfall.”
School board member Carolyn Lowder called for speaking up when it comes time for the county to hand out school funding.
“I hope we won’t have to roll over and take what they give us,” Lowder said. “If we don’t ask, we won’t get.”