School System Could Run Out Of Money In April Unless Commissioners Approve $8.8 Million In Additional Funds

Johnston County Schools interim superintendent Dr. Jim Causby will ask Johnston County Commissioners for $8,874,429 in additional funding in December.  Dr. Causby presented an update Tuesday to the school board on the current budget crisis facing the local school system.

In October, Dr. Causby said he discovered the school system was facing a potential $10 million budget shortfall.  Causby said the local current expense budget – money the school system receives each year from County Commissioners – is not keeping up with student growth and rising costs.

Dr. Causby said former Superintendent Dr. Ross Renfrow, who retired in August, had already begun cost cutting measures during the first two months of the fiscal year that began on July 1st.

Renfrow had cut $2,871,338 from the budget, including a reduction in Teacher Learning Coaches from 43 to 17 positions, saving $1,560,000.  Eight Operational Director positions were also eliminated saving an additional $446,000.  A $15,000 line item for snacks was also eliminated. Those snacks were for professional development meetings.  (The school system did not cut the snack budget for their own board meetings.)

Causby said Tuesday he has eliminated an additional $7,048,203 in expenditures.   This includes $1,815,000 in cost savings by not filling all current certified vacancies, $936,000 by leaving some current classified vacancies unfilled, plus $1,765,503 in cuts to supplies, materials and travel, primarily at the Central Office.  $500,000 was also cut from the maintenance budget and $30,000 in printing costs was realized by printing report cards in black and white instead of color.  $278,000 in administrative reductions were also made.

(Left to right) Superintendent Dr. Jim Causby and School Board Chairman Mike Wooten.

Causby told the school board he was not happy having to make the cuts but felt it was something the board could live with this fiscal year.

Initially, Dr. Causby had projected $83,868,550 in local current expense budget needs, but following his $7,048,203 cost cutting measures, that amount is down to $76,820,347.    Johnston County Commissioners had already agreed to give Johnston County Schools $67,945,918 this fiscal year.  That leaves $8,874,429 in unfunded needs.

Dr. Causby said he will formally appear before Johnston County Commissioners in December asking for the funds. He has already been in talks with County Manager Rick Hester who told JoCoReport, “Dr. Causby briefed me on this a few days ago. We look forward to his presentation to the Board of Commissioners in December.”

If Commissioners don’t fund the $8.87 million request, the superintendent says the school system will be forced to begin cutting personnel, and the school system could potentially run out of money in April 2020, well ahead of the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2020.