Johnston County schools facing $10 million shortfall

SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WTVD) -- During this week's Board of Education meeting, Johnston County Public Schools Interim Superintendent Dr. Jim Causby said the district has a $10 million budget shortfall.

"We have a history now over the last few years here of operating and spending more than what that budget has been, so we've depleted our fund balance," Causby said. "Where our fund balance was close to $10 million just a few years ago, it's now down to 330-some thousand dollars of usable money. Barely enough to make sure that we can pay the bills when they come in."

Causby said he didn't want people to panic, but he wanted them to know the facts.

The bombshell comes after recent turmoil at the district, including diploma discrepancies, a popular principal being transferred, causing protests and the former superintendent retiring.

Causby gave two reasons for the shortfall.

He said they've spent more than they have and cited the Exceptional Children Program for kids with disabilities, which he said is costing more to operate than the state and federal funding they receive for it.

Causby said the district will have to make some cuts but didn't give specifics.

"We'll make every effort not to touch classrooms and in every way we can not to touch schools," he said.

Still, parents worry it could affect their children's education.

"It concerns me," said father Brandon Twiford. "We've had a lot of budget constraints as is just because of population. So I'm somewhat concerned as far as classroom size and facilities."

"It more than likely is going to affect their education," said mother Ajee Acosta. "That's really worrisome."

ABC11 is hoping to get more answers from the district Monday about when the cuts will take effect.

Link to video of board meeting
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