“Numbers Tell A Story” About JCPS Funding, Commissioner Fred Smith Says

SMITHFIELD -Johnston County Commissioner Fred Smith told fellow commissioners recently that “numbers tell a story.” Smith was referring to data he requested County Manager Rick Hester compile comparing student enrollment trends to the amount of money commissioners are funding Johnston County Public Schools (JCPS) each year.

During the February 8th commission meeting, Mr. Smith stated he had compared funding for the last 5 years. In 2017, JCPS had 15,713 students enrolled in elementary schools, 7730 in middle schools, and 10,781 in high schools for a total of 34,224 students.

In 2021, JCPS had 15,431 students in elementary schools, a decrease of 282 students from 2017. There were 8,064 students in middle school, an increase of only 334 students over the five year period. And in 2021, there were 11,653 students in high school, an increase of 872 students in the previous five years. Overall, there were 35,148 students enrolled in JCPS in 2021, an increase of 924 students in five years, he stated.

Smith then compared funding to JCPS during the same period. In 2017, Commissioners approved $62 million for JCPS. In 2021, Commissioners approved $78 million, representing a $16 million increase, or 25 percent increase, even though the number of students enrolled had increased by only 2.7 percent, he said.

“Numbers tell a story,” Smith said at the end of his presentation offering no further comment. No other commissioners responded to the statistial data.

Johnston County Report reached out to school board chairman Todd Sutton for a response. Sutton issued the following statement by email:

“I appreciate Commissioner Smith initiating the discussion at this month’s meeting about our school system’s growth and funding. Our close working relationship with our County Commissioners allows us to have candid conversations about many aspects of our school system, and we as Board of Education members are extremely grateful for that partnership. This conversation is one of the first of many that we hope to have in regards to student enrollment, facility needs, and funding over the next several months.

When we look at our Growth Forecast report from OREd for the 2021-2022 school year, it’s important to include all of our students in that total. When we do that it brings us to a total 38,095 students in month two for this school year. Comparing that to our number for the 2016-2017 school year, which is 34,523, that is a 9.4% increase over a five-year period.

While our funding from the County Commissioners has increased, which I am extremely grateful for, I hope our Commissioners continue to support our growth. Even with the 25% funding increase that Commissioner Smith referenced, Johnston County Public Schools is still in the bottom 10% of per pupil student expenditure in the state of North Carolina.

It is also vital that we highlight the growth that our school system has seen in some of our newest programs, such as Innovation Academy, Career and Technical Leadership Academy, Early College Academy, and our new JCPS Virtual Academy. This school year the students in these programs total 2,197 students. While it may seem as if these programs make up a small number of students, they actually make up more than 5% of our student enrollment. These students also must be considered for planning purposes, should the need arise for them to return to their domicile school. We also receive per pupil funding from DPI for each one of these students. Johnston County Public Schools offers exemplary programs that strive to meet the needs of all of our students, and we feel it is important to figure this population in when looking at the big picture.

We’re looking forward to our ongoing discussions with our commissioners, staff, and all school stakeholders regarding our growth, funding, and a possible upcoming bond.”


  1. How long will it take for WRAL-Tony Braswell to get infront of the liberal WRAL reporter to slam Mr. Fred Smith for daring to question the Johnston County School Board funny numbers? The RINO-Democrats Chad Stewart and Larry Wood may be gone but WRAL-Tony Braswell will be having none of this questioning the JCPS on seeing the ledger of their bank account. Mr. Fred Smith do you understand that it is none of your or taxpayers business on how money is spent by the JCPS and those bank records can be called public but they will never be reviewed by anyone outside of the school board. My question is, does anyone know if $180-K-Carroll ever got another closed door meeting to approve the backdoor payment of $180,000.00 to our old School Superintendent Dr. Parker?



  2. Well, its obvious that Fred Smith has no real interest in public schools. To try and imply that they are overfunded shows an agenda, which is beyond obvious. Worth repeating…”Johnston County Public Schools is still in the bottom 10% of per pupil student expenditure in the state of North Carolina.”

    • They are overfunded…Wake County is grossly over funded. When will people learn that you can’t simply throw money at a problem in order to fix it? These kids need caring loving home and parents who believe they, not the state, are responsible for the education, nutrition, and transportation of their children (see turned over bus from today’s news).

      • They are funded less than most other districts in a state that is funded less than most other states. Yes, parents play a huge role but so does a decent living wage on par with the educational level required for teaching. Not sure how you came up with your claim that they are “overfunded”. Because you say so? You can’t attract and retain quality teachers by paying less than everybody else, especially other professions that require a 4 year degree. That’s basic economics. Studies and decades long data show a clear correlation with states that invest more in education and educational achievement.

  3. I am not sure that the funding per pupil correlates to student achievement . I would be interested in any study that does show a relation.

  4. They want to know about the waste of money within the schools.
    They need to sit down with the people that know…..the staff!

  5. First step… cut out so much of the overpaid I want to try and at least once a day OK bathroom first, useless administrative staff at central!

    • Strongly agree with down sizing the central office. Maybe make some have to drive school buses like they force teachers to do

  6. There is a strong correlation with states that spend more and educational achievement. The studies show it. It’s also a basic economic concept. Paying more attracts and retains better quality. Johnston County keeps losing quality teachers to Wake County, which pays far more. Fred Smith cares nothing about that, he merely has an anti-public schools and anti teacher agenda. “Does school spending matter? The new literature on an old question.” Jackson et al. (2020)” All but one of the several multistate studies find a strong link between spending and outcomes—indicating that money matters on average.”

    • I honestly agree more pay will attract better qualified teachers . I honestly can say our teachers now I’m proud of for sticking it out . Don’t give up on our kids. Change is coming . Fred smith needs to understand we have to depend on our school system now everyone has what he has. None of his kids or great grandkids or great great grandkids will ever have to work They have their futures secure. We have to secure our kids and we want the best that we can get in our schools . But they will give money to Amazon quick but not our kids. If it was up to him our kids would eat bread and water

  7. I will say this, in defense of increased spending, the cost to operate schools have increased. Fuel costs alone for buses account for a huge expenditure increase. Thanks Joe.

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