Johnston County Public Schools (JCPS) Superintendent Dr. Ross Renfrow says the school system needs $1.5 million to meet their obligations for the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2019.
Dr. Renfrow and Finance Director Art Stanley appeared before Johnston County Commissioners on Monday asking for immediate funding to help pay their bills for the remainder of this month. “Whatever is not spent, we will return a check on August 1, 2019,” Dr. Renfrow told commissioners.
School leaders blame the shortfall on two main issues. The state failed to fully fund programs for exceptional and special needs children during the school year. Sixteen percent of students enrolled in 2018-19 were considered special needs but JCPS only received funding for 12.6%. Secondly, the school system had to return $3.5 million to the State due to 691 students who elected to enroll in charter schools in Johnston County versus public schools. JCPS officials didn’t anticipate the number of students being that high. Dr. Renfrow says it was caused by the opening of a new charter school in Clayton.
“We are loudly crying for help from state lawmakers,” Dr. Renfrow said when asked about getting more assistance to meet the shortfall in funding for special needs programs.
Johnston County Schools has an annual budget of about $300 million. The state provides approximately 70% of the annual funding, 20% comes from the county, and 10% from the federal government, Dr. Renfrow told Commissioners.
Stanley said the school system currently has about $2 million in Fund Balance, but by July 1st that amount will be zero.
Commissioner Patrick Harris asked if the Board could decide on the $1.5 million funding request closer to June 30th, the last day of the fiscal year. Dr. Renfrow said June 15 is the very last day JCPS needs the money in hand.
Commissioners plan to decide on the $1.5 million request during a meeting on Monday, June 10.