Craven County Schools is broke – Part Two

Craven County Schools is now saying it is in the black this school year; however, the district anticipates a $3.5 million hole next year. This is their way of being proactive, I guess. Scare the masses and hopefully, the Board of Commissioners will cave based on public pressure and give the school system more money. Because it is, after all, the federal government, the state government and finally, the local government’s fault the district does not have enough money to operate efficiently and effectively.

In an earlier post, entitled, “Surprise! Craven County Schools is broke,” I outlined some of the options the district is considering in saving funds. The possibilities included closing a school and reducing hours of those who make the least amount of money including janitors, classroom assistants, clerical staff and bus assistants for the Exceptional Children’s Program.

Some other options in their pursuit for more carefree financial days include making student athletes pay to play. That’s right, your high-schooler may need to fork out an additional $100 to Craven County Schools just to have the opportunity to cheer for their school. Then, there’s a proposed fee for things like transportation. And let’s not forget the Board of Education’s current dilemma of whether or not to enforce school uniforms next year district-wide.

So, whether you like it or not, if it comes from the Board of Commissioners or out of your own pocket, all taxpayers in Craven County will be footing the bill of the possible mismanagement of funds from the local school system.

This isn’t the first time Craven County Schools decided to make the parents cough up money for the district’s needs nor will it be the last. Consider the new technology fee, which each student – from kindergarten on – must pay just to utilize technology in the classroom. Just last month, the district reported in its tiny financial report located in the School Board’s agenda that the district had raked in more than $45,000 in the past month from those student fees. At $20 per student with at least 13,000 students in the district, this money adds up. Notice I wrote at least 13,000 students. That’s because I am uncertain as to how many students have transferred out of the district.

In that same report, the district notes it lost funds due to enrollment in the state’s Virtual Charter School while also paying money to other local public charter schools, as well. Giving money to charter schools is a huge problem for this board. To listen to the members talk during meetings, you would think those schools are stealing money from Craven County Schools. But that can’t be so. If you don’t have a student to educate because they are attending another school, why then would you need the funds? Why not give it to the school that is actually doing the work? Ask a School Board member about this discrepancy and they will stutter as they try to give you a speech on how charter schools are not measured by the same standards as public schools. But that’s another argument for another day.

In the report, Craven County Schools also lists grants received. For 2015-16, the district procured $1.6 million in grants. Now, the grant funds are not broken down by what they can be used for because that would give the public too much information and we all know this district isn’t fond of transparency. Nevertheless, funds are coming in.

Finally, the school’s transportation budget increased by $530,005, according to the agenda packet. If this is the case, why is the school system even discussing the increased burden on parents of having to pay for transportation? Furthermore, where did the funds to place GPS systems on buses come from? Please note they did this per the Transportation Director’s own statements in order to find out where waste was occurring. Not necessarily just for the safety to each student but so that the district could figure out why some bus drivers were arriving to school late. The director actually reported on an employee who was found to be sitting in a parking lot talking on her phone for 30 minutes each day but was still clocked in. Now, why does it take a GPS system to track employee waste?

Again, this post is getting long, so I will end by assuring my readers I will follow the money. In the next installment you will see where the district is wasting its money.

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