State Places Neuse Charter School On Probation

Chairman: Eliminate Of 15 Positions Unrelated To Finances

The NC Department of Public Instruction has placed Neuse Charter School in Smithfield on financial probationary status after an audit revealed several areas of concerns. School officials say they are working to address the concerns and that the layoff of 15 staff members has nothing to do with their financial issues.

Neuse Charter School Ribbon CuttingThe audit of Neuse Charter financial statements for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015 showed a deficit of $114,601 and that expenditures exceeded revenues by $473,740.  The school also failed to submit their financial statements to the state treasurer a full three months after the Oct. 31, 2015 due date.

As a result, the state has now placed Neuse Charter on financial probationary status “…until the 2016 audit indicates all financial deficiencies are resolved to the satisfaction of the (state).”

Shortly afterwards, Neuse Charter, which has 81 total positions, did not renew the contacts of 10 personnel and eliminated 5 more positions. Contracts were not renewed for 8 teachers, 1 teacher assistant and 1 administrative support employee, according to Tony Gupton, Neuse Charter Board Chairman.  Of the 5 positions eliminated, 3 were for foreign language and support faculty, 1 teacher assistant, and 1 administrative support worker.

Two additional teachers voluntarily resigned.

The school system says they have budgeted for 80 positions in the 2016-17 school year.

Gupton said the school sent a letter home to parents on May 31st about the changes and what he called “new opportunities that are before us.”  In the letter, Gupton said, “The Financial Committee has worked diligently with administration to identify budget deficits, funding solutions and a new salary plan that will strengthen the long range financial footing of the school.”

“Significant progress towards a new direction often requires difficult decisions. Some of these decisions resulted in contract non-renewals of selected staff. These non-renewals…have been approved by the Board and will be fully acted on by the Board by June 15th.”   Gupton also encouraged parents to support a new fundraising campaign.

Rumors that Neuse Charter was in financial trouble, Gupton said, is simply not true.  He said part of the problem was having separate enterprise and general funds, which have now been combined. He said a new auditor has been hired to ensure these problems do not occur again.

Ask about the negative $101,147.06 in this year’s (2015-16) budget, the chairman said the school traditionally depended upon $180,000 in federal grant money each year. The money was not available in the 2015-16 school year which created the shortfall.  “This shortage has been addressed by the school securing a line of credit on excellent terms that will be repaid during the 2016-17 school year and end the year with a positive cash flow,” Gupton said, describing it as a bump in the road.

The board chairman said the staff reductions are not a direct result of the financial issues saying the reasons vary. “In some cases, the school has decided to discontinue some programs and as such, does not require the services of those particular teachers. Other staff are not being renewed for personnel reasons. We would note that staff not renewed were from different schools and levels of experience and education.” He added that the school is becoming more efficient, for example, and will need only one principal this year instead of two. And staff is also being better aligned.

Staff members whose contracts were not renewed will be allowed to reapply for other positions at Neuse Charter.