Stanly county schools superintendent reveals more ways to save money gallery j gastrointest oncol impact factor


“Over 82 percent of a school district’s budget is salary and benefits,” James wrote in the fiscal urgency plan, which went into effect on Feb. 7. “Currently based on the school efficiency audit, there is a need to cut between $800,000 and $1.2 million. This completely excludes any impact the K-3 class size will have in the upcoming school year. I roughly estimate that impact to be $1.2-$1.6 million for our district. So worst case scenario, we need to cut $2.2 million from the 2018-2019 school budget.”

But unless there is an unavoidable emergency, James said he has no plans to lay off any staff members. He plans to take care of the problem more gradually through attrition, letting staff members transfer, resign or retire as normal and then cut the position, transfer staff or hire another person as needed.

Adding the technology to the buses will allow staff to review the routes the drivers take when they pick up and drop off children, then review them to see where drivers can improve efficiency, saving both time and gas money. Even small changes can add up over the course of a school year.

Fewer and fewer students are riding the bus, but ridership counts for state money, James said. He noted Richfield has the lowest ridership level of all. Kids may want to avoid the bus, parents or grandparents may drive them, or they may walk or ride with a friend, but fewer children on the bus means fewer dollars from the state.

The school board also recently approved James’ request to increase the activity bus fee and adult cafeteria meal price by several cents each, noting that while the changes are small, they put the county at the state recommended rate. Now, the county will not lose money on each of those transactions, adding another small but critical way to save.

While most of those changes aren’t ones students may notice as much from day to day, James is looking at ways to keep the kids happy. Lunchroom participation in the county is low, only at 54 percent. He started a survey to ask kids about their breakfast and lunch habits and feedback on the cafeteria and learned that of the 618 who had responded as of May 9, 65 percent of kids said they eat no breakfast at all.

James noted that some students responded that they do not like the food. Some may not have breakfast available at home. Others say they do not have money, while others feel shame over accepting a free or reduced lunch due to the stigma that surrounds it. Lunch lines need to be completely mingled so that no students are singled out, James said.

Schools used to make a large amount of money from vending machines. While laws prevent the school from selling food from vending machines at certain times or from stocking sugary food and drinks, James said he is looking into adding healthy vending machines where students could use their card to purchase an apple, flavored water, etc.

Parents concerned about how much their kid is spending from their card would be able to avoid surprises by requesting a PDF report on the child’t account from the cafeteria manager, James said. He also hopes to find a solution that would prevent students from having the ability to purchase something they are allergic to.

James would like to offer a virtual learning environment where the school would partially gain the students and parents would have help with subjects they do not want to teach or are not able to offer. Homeschoolers could use the virtual environment to take two courses from the school.