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Onslow County proposes less money for schools than expected

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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. -

Onslow County school administrators are not getting the money this year they thought they were going to get to run the school system.

County commissioners are proposing to give them $2 million less than what school leaders feel was promised.

This year the Onslow County government is proposing to give the school system $40 million to operate, the same amount they got last year.

But the school system's chief financial officer, Jeffrey Hollamon, says that's not what the two sides agreed on.

"We were shocked and surprised with no prior notification that we'd be flat-funded. The assumption is they would honor the agreement," said Hollamon.

The agreement was in 2009 when the county said they'd distribute money to the school system using a formula that takes into account student enrollment, student performance, and other things. Now the county is proposing not to use formula.

"This drastically cuts the resources available for our students. Put in other terms, this is approximately the funding for 44 teaching positions," Hollamon said.

Hollamon says the schools are also expecting a $4 million cut in state and federal funding, even though enrollment is projected to go up by more than 500 students.

But the Vice Chair of Onslow County Commissioners, Barbara Ikner, says the government has to break its agreement.

Ikner says the school system is over-funded, that they got $5.6 million from the county last year that they never even used.

"We have increased the budget $3 million for each of the past $3 years, and in doing so we have neglected and not been able to fund other projects," Ikner said.

Ikner wants to use the extra $2 million that would have gone to the school system for other things like raising county salaries, buying 10 new patrol cars, 2 ambulances, and 20 defibrillators.

The school district will make its case Wednesday at 11 AM on why county commissioner should honor the formula they agreed on. Commissioners have to make their decision no later than July 1.

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