JCPS Board Asks Commissioners For 11 Percent Budget Increase

Wants To Keep Projected $20 Million Fund Balance

Asks Commissioners For Separate $3.6 Million Performance Bonus

1250 Fewer Students Expected Next School Year

SMITHFIELD – The Johnston County Public School Board is seeking an 11 percent general fund increase from Johnston County Commissioners even though enrollment is projected to drop by 1,250 students.

School Board Chairman Todd Sutton discusses the proposed 2021-22 fiscal year budget during the May meeting of the JCPS Board. Screenshot

The proposed $79,927,090 local budget was adopted May 11 by the JCPS Board and hand delivered to Johnston County Manager Rick Hester on May 14th. An additional $2,962,000 is sought for capital improvements. Combined, that an approximate 13 percent increase in funding from the current fiscal year.

“It is with excitement and hope that we submit this message to you during a budget session that follows a year of extremely heavy lifting… We are aware of the history of excellence that Johnston County and the Johnston County Public Schools has created and experienced,” stated Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy, Chairman Todd Sutton and Chief Finance Officer Stephen Britt in a joint letter to Mr. Hester, Johnston County Commissioners and County Finance Officer Chad McLamb.

“This district’s history tells us that we possess the stamina and the know-how needed to bring our schools into the forefront of educational excellence again. This is why we are convinced that we can achieve our goal of 100 percent of our schools rated as A, B, or C by school year 2023-24. As a matter of fact, we could get there even sooner,” the letter states.

“This journey will require a synergistic relationship in order to bring our goal to fruition…”

In a May 17 meeting with Johnston County Report, Mr. Britt said the biggest uncertainty with the budget is what the General Assembly will approve this year.

Salary And Supplement Increases
The $79.9 million budget request includes funding to cover a potential state pay raise of 5% for teachers, or $1,938,407. With benefits that equals $2,993.991.

A one percent increase in teacher supplements is included at an annual cost of $1,749.634. For example, a current JCPS teacher with zero to 8 years experience now has a 10.5% salary supplement. The increase would bring the supplement to 11.5%.

Bus drivers would make a minimum of $15 per hour under the spending plan, costing $641,500 more next year.

New Thanksgiving Elementary School
The opening of Thanksgiving Elementary School in August will add $387,954 in operational costs, Mr. Britt said. This includes two assistant principals, three front office staff salaries and benefits, and utilities. The state covers the salary of the principal, teachers and custodians.

By the end of the June 30, 2021 fiscal year, JCPS will realize a savings of $9 to $10 million due to COVID and the influx of additional CARES Act money.

$20 Million Fund Balance
Mr. Britt said JCPS will end the fiscal year with about $20 million in the bank. Compared to June 30, 2020, the school system had a $9.8 million fund balance. On June 30, 2019, the fund balance was $1.6 million and $6 million in reserves were spent during the same school year (2018-19) to balance the budget.

Enrollment Decrease
Historically, JCPS has significant growth each year. The NC Department of Public Instruction says 2020-21 will be different. They are projecting a decrease from 37,837 students this year to 36,687 next year, a drop of 1,250 students.

The State current pays JCPS an average of $6,604 per student. The decrease will reduce funding by $8,254,463. To help offset the drop in revenue, the school board is proposing to eliminate 46 positions, primarily teachers. Due to the turnover rates, no teachers will lose their jobs. The positions will be eliminated through attrition. By not filling the 46 positions, JCPS will save $2,415,000, leaving the net expected loss of state funds at $5,839.463.

The current 2020-21 JCPS budget is $370.7 million and includes local, state and federal funds. State funds account for 68.5% of the budget, 19.4% local funds and 12.1% federal dollars, Mr. Britt said.

Capital Improvements

$2,962,000 in capital improvements are included in the 2021-22 spending plan, an increase of approximately 41% over the current year.

The improvements requested include:

$500,000 Replace rubber roof – Four Oaks Elementary
$275,000 Replace chillers – McGee’s Elementary
$125,000 Purchase 2 work vans, 1 pickup, 2 mowers
$30,000 Classroom furniture
$25,000 Asbestos removal (Innovation Academy)
$200,000 Purchase 110 Smith Street, Princeton / Tennis courts for Princeton School
$100,000 Purchase 559 W. Market Street, Smithfield / Parking for Facility Services
$250,000 Boiler replacement – Glendale-Kenly Elementary
$32,000 Playground Replacement – Glendale-Kenly
$350,000 Replace chillers – Cleveland Elementary
$35,000 Athletic Lights Relamping – Clayton High
$250,000 HVAC infrastructure upgrades – 9 schools
$145,000 Refurbish football bleachers – SSS High, South Johnston High, Princeton Middle/High
$65,000 Tennis court repairs – Corinth Holders High and SSS High
$230,000 2 new school buses & convert 2 yellow buses to activity buses
$35,000 Miscellaneous Repairs – Smithfield Recreation & Aquatics Center (SRAC)
$65,000 Gym floor refinish – North Johnston High, Cleveland Middle, Four Oaks Elementary
$50,000 Technology upgrades – districtwide
$50,000 Contingencies for emergencies – districtwide

Performance Bonus To Improve Failing Schools
In addition to the $79.9 million budget and $2.9 million capital improvements, the JCPS Board is seeking a four-year commitment from Johnston County Commissioners for an additional $3,639,500 maximum potential performance bonus reimbursement per year.

To incentivize and reward academic performance at 15 current public schools that have a failing grade (current “D” and “F” schools), the school board wants commissioners to reimburse personnel at the schools that meet stated goals each year.

For example, if a school with a “D” or “F” grade moves to a “C” grade, all employees at the school would receive $1,000 at the end of the year. If the school “met growth”, certified staff would receive an additional $1,000 or if the school “exceed growth” certified staff would receive $2,000, or a maximum of $3,000 per year per employee.

Full time classified staff would earn half of that amount, or a maximum of $1,500 per year.  This would include custodians, teacher assistants, front office staff, school nutrition and bus drivers.

The 15 schools include:
Benson Elementary-D
Cooper Academy-D
Corinth Holders Elementary-D
Micro Elementary-D
Polenta Elementary-D
Selma Elementary-D
South Smithfield Elementary-D
West Clayton Elementary-D
West Smithfield Elementary-D
Wilson’s Mill Elementary-D
Benson Middle School-D
Clayton Middle School-D
North Johnston Middle School-F
Selma Middle School-F
Smithfield Middle School-D

School Board Wants To Keep $20 Million Balance
In the May 14 budget letter to the county manager and county commissioners, school leaders said they want to keep the $20 million in savings in their bank account for future needs.

“To further show fiscal responsibility for the funds that support our educational services, we commit to preserving and protecting our current balance. The bottom line is that a fund balance that is too low can hurt student achievement because the district will not have the ability to smooth our funding and cost swings from year to year. For these reasons, we ask that Johnston County Public Schools be allowed to maintain a fund balance of $20 million, or roughly 5.4% of our County, State and Federal operating budget, excluding Capital Outlay and COVID funding.”

“We strongly advocate maintaining a healthy fund balance for good reason. Fund balance allows us to handle the inevitable financial challenges that we will face in the future. When a district has a small fund balance and experiences the volatility above, it has no choice to swing from feast to famine year to year. Programs, staffing, and services that are provided to students one year are cut the next year to balance the budget. This creates instability in the educational environment. A prime example of this instability will occur after CARES Act funding fades away.”

“Johnston County Public Schools, like all school districts, will have to eliminate programs such as summer school, tutoring, and other supplemental programs that are no longer funded. Having a healthy fund balance will allow us to slowly transition, rather than abruptly end, many of these initiatives.”

“Johnston County Public Schools and Johnston County are headed toward a more stable environment both educationally and economically. This budget request reflects our commitment not only to a stable environment but one that will support achieving our goal of having 100 percent of our schools with an A, B, or C rating by 2023-24,” the letter from Dr. Bracy, Chairman Sutton and Mr. Britt stated.

Johnston County Manager Rick Hester said Monday he hopes to have his budget proposal in the hands of County Commissioners, including his proposed funding amount to JCPS, within a week.


  1. Johnston County Tax Payers and Parents don’t forget we are rewarding the very same folks that would not come to school and educate your childdren for an entire year. That’s right parents, you remember working by day and educating by night and trying to make sure to have supervision for those children while struggling with that job don’t you? Tax payers you remember when those Johnston County Commissioner’s voted to hand over millions of dollars over spent by this Johnston County School Board to don’t you? Folks just watch the movie and true story Bad Education with a open mind and replace some of the actors in the movie with our elected officials and it will all make sense. Here the link to watch a preview and I ask just open up your minds with all the different possible ways these millions of dollars could be channeled out of that bank account.

  2. Asking for a budget increase yet will not tell us where that missing 8+ million went. So JCPS’s how about you open the books so we the citizens can see who’s pockets got bigger. I wouldn’t give a dime until every penny is accounted for.

    • As a childless senior, I’ve been paying taxes my whole life to send other people’s children to school. It’s time that parents pay more in taxes for each child instead of getting a tax break and forcing people without children to pick up the tab for their children.

  3. There is no way they should get an increase in funding when the total number of students have decreased by 3%. Hopefully our county commissioners will be rational and at most keep them at the funding levels of the current year. Once they have proven they will get our kids back in school and are using the current resources effectively and efficiently, then we can talk about giving them more money.

  4. I bet the commissioners give it to them, the always do. no accountability, no answers on previous missing $$$$$

  5. It’s time JCPS upgrades their infrastructure and pay increase for classified staff is way overdue. Every school district around Johnston County has increased pay for classified staff and left JCPS constantly under staffed. It’s time to finally finance education properly.

  6. They didn’t save anything from not attending school last year? They get an influx of cares money and still need more? I dont think a 20 million balance is a logical request.
    I think their check book should be online for us all to see.
    We should have advocates and business people and parents visit each school they say needs repairs and get estimates from legit vendors. Compare bids. I dont trust commissioners, really.

  7. Not ONE DIME more for teachers or admins until classified staff are paid more than a poverty wage!!!! Not ONE DIME!!!!!!

  8. Please do not give them the increase, better yet, take away what they asked for in an increase please.

  9. I think it is high time to look after classified staff! Classified never get a pay increase! They should be looked after just as much as teachers because without classified staff buses would not roll.

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