Budget cuts trim school office staff
BY AMELIA HARPER
Sunday, May 26, 2019
The budget for Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools has come under intense scrutiny since the school district had a serious budget shortfall this year, and one of the departments mentioned most about potential waste is the central office.
The budget for the coming year was presented to Nash County commissioners in April and a revised budget created based on updated planning allotment provided by the state. This budget still is under consideration before it finally will be adopted by July 1.
An examination of the central office salaries over the past 10 years reveals that while the average salary for central office employees is relatively high, the total budget for the department has dramatically been cut in recent years since Shelton Jefferies took on the role of superintendent for the school district.
In the 2017-18 school year, there were 61 employees on the central office administration payroll with a budget of $4,107,250, according to documents supplied by the school district. In the 2018-19 school year, there were 44 people on the central office payroll with a budget of $3,203,205, according to a document supplied by Sheila Wallace, interim chief finance officer of the Nash-Rocky Mount school district. Figures for the 2019-20 school year are not available.
“Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools has confronted significant operating deficits for the 2018-2019 school year. When confronting such a challenge, school districts must balance the budget by reducing expenses or by allocating undesignated fund balance. We have explored and presented multiple options for the board’s consideration during this process. I appreciate the spirit of collaboration and commitment that our district has demonstrated during this difficult time,” Jefferies said.
Some of the positions missing from the 2018-19 school budget included the director of student information management, director of student support services, assistant director of transportation, public relations communications, coordinator of maintenance projects, education specialist-fine arts and AIG and a licensure specialist. Some support and admin positions were cut as well.
Wallace said most of these cuts were made through attrition as employees left the school district.
“The superintendent and staff have engaged in deliberate exploration and planning to identify areas for reduction,” Wallace said. “Dr. Jefferies engaged the Board of Education in both small group and public settings to keep them informed.
“Natural attrition has been the primary vehicle for eliminating positions. Vacancies created by resignations or retirements have not been filled,” Wallace said. “This was accomplished by redistributing their duties to existing staff members. We also reassigned central office staff members to vacant positions in the district when their credentials and experience were aligned with the vacancy.”
Despite the cuts made to the central office staff, the current salaries for the department still run high compared to teaching positions and salaries for similar positions in Edgecombe County. Five administrators in the district make more than $100,000 per year, including the superintendent ($178,168), chief academic officer ($133,600), assistant superintendent of student placement and intervention ($117,840), chief of staff ($106,977) and executive director of athletics and child nutrition ($100,500).
Eight other central office employees make between $90,000 and $100,000. These positions include the chief of communications officer, chief technology officer, executive director for high schools, director of maintenance, executive director of elementary education, executive director of human resources, executive director of middle schools and advanced programming and the interim chief finance officer.
The average salary for central office employees in the Nash-Rocky Mount district is roughly $72,800.
Comparatively, Edgecombe County Public Schools central office employees make an average of $57,598. There are 48 employees in that central office, whose salaries total $2,764,740. Only three employees in the central office make more than $100,000. These include the superintendent and the two assistant superintendents. The next highest-paid employee makes $89,676.
Of course, Edgecombe County Public Schools is a smaller district with roughly 6,000 students compared with roughly 15,000 in Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools. Degrees earned and levels of experience also can account for some salary differences.
The central office staffing in Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools dramatically has reduced since it was at its peak under the administration of former superintendent Anthony Jackson. During the 2012-13 academic year, the central office had 74 employees — 30 more than currently are in the department. The salaries for those employees ran $4,616,500 for that year — roughly 30 percent more than the current budget.