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Budget cuts trim school office staff

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

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.

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