FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Cumberland County Schools' Board of Education gave its stamp of approval on the budget endorsed by Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly.
The budget is for the 2023-2024 school year, and the school district said that this year it is changing its approach to try and get more local funds from the county.
In total, the district is asking for $611 million from all levels of government and in special grants and funds. The largest portion would come from the state, but CCS is also asking the county for $88.1 million for workers' salaries, benefits and operating costs.
"The classroom is absolutely critical, but we also really need to consider the employees that support the classroom," said Jay Toland, the associate superintendent for business operations for CCS.
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Toland explains CCS is trying to make salary increases more equitable throughout the system, especially after the state raised the minimum wage requirement about a year ago. That's why the district is asking for $3.8 million more than it was awarded in local money from the county's Board of Commissioners last year.
CCS said this figure is strategic. In the past several years, county commissioners haven't given the school district its full ask. This time, CCS is asking for less than it normally would in the hopes of getting the ball across the goalpost. In 2022, CCS asked for about $7 million more than it was given in 2021.
In addition to dealing with state mandates for pay raises, Toland said the district is contending with costs for employee matching benefits. They're also forecasting rises in utility costs because of inflation. If CCS doesn't get its full ask from the county, it will have to make some cuts.
"We don't want to cut our staff because that's our greatest asset, so we would probably look at supplies, and workshops and maybe even into our funds balance and our savings accounts to supplement that," Toland said. "But it's very important that we don't rely too much on our savings account because that's one-time money, and then that will go away with time."
Cumberland County Commissioners are expected to review and vote on the CCS budget proposal this summer.