School Board Seeks 12% Funding Increase From County

By Laura Crosio

Croom and Strickland
(Left to right) School Board Chairman Larry Strickland and Superintendent Dr. Ed Croom discuss the proposed $60.2 million budget Tuesday during a school board meeting.

On Tuesday, members of the Johnston County Schools approved a proposed budget for the 2015-2016 fiscal year totaling slightly over $60 million. The budget request will now be sent over to the Johnston County Commissioners for further examination and approval.

The school is seeking $60,252,483 million, an increase of $7,102,483, or about 12 percent more, from the 2014-2015 allocation.

Superintendent Ed Croom said increase in spending was based on several factors including salary adjustments for head custodians, bus drivers who have perfect attendance and creating an “equal platform” for teacher assistants who also drive a bus but who are paid different for each job they perform.

The new budget also reflects a projected increase from the state that expects the Johnston County School district to grow by 600 new students over the next school year.

“There are still a lot of unknowns about this budget because of not knowing what’s going on in Raleigh,” Croom said.  He noted state lawmakers are still making decisions on several items to fund, including whether or not to cut monies to fund supplement driver education training.

“We are hearing that money for drivers ed will be put back into the budget for one more year,” said Croom. “But we’re going to have to make some tough decisions regarding drivers ed going forward.

He said it costs about $800,000 to fund the county’s driver education program. Students are currently charged a $55 fee to participate in the program. State law allows the district to charge up to $65.

“If they do not fund it in the state budget then we have to figure out a way to carve it out,” he said.

“This is the first year since I have been superintendent that there’s been no planning allotments given to us by the state,” continued Croom.

“The only thing we have is a project student increase by the state, which is 600 students, so that is what we are basing our budget on. And we pray we get it.”

Johnston County Commissioners must complete action on the school budget no later than July 1.