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Onslow County rejects school district request for more funding - Greenville, NC | News | Weather | Sports - WNCT.com

Onslow County rejects school district request for more funding

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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. -

In Onslow County, the school district made a last minute plea for the county to give them more money for next year's budget.

Tuesday near Jacksonville, the two sides met up to hash out the thorny issue of funding.

The Onslow County school district made their case for why they need more money for their upcoming budget. But in the end, the answer was no.

"I really was hoping we could make a compromise, that partially receive some additional funding," said Pamela Thomas, chairman of the Onslow County Board of Education.

Commissioners say they've given the school an extra $9 million every year for the last three years, to the point where county manager Jeff Hudson says the school district has $8 million more in their savings account than the county has in theirs.

"We don't have the money this year to give the Board of Education, so we're asking them to hold the line this year and next year we'll look at the formula again," said Paul Buchanan, chairman of Onslow County Board of Commissioners.

This year commissioners are proposing to abandon the funding formula they agreed on fours ago that takes into account things like student population, meaning the school district would get two million dollars less than they expected.

"We need to have these kinds of discussions in the future so we can base our budget planning on an appropriate amount of money," said Thomas.

The two sides tossed around several ideas to come up with extra money, like raising property taxes, petitioning lawmakers to let the county fund the schools with sales tax, or borrowing money from the capital improvement fund. But none of those ideas seemed to stick.

Despite the school budget cut, Thomas says she doesn't expect the quality of education in Onslow County to suffer. She says the school district will just have to make up the difference this year by taking money out of its savings account, or as they call it, their fund balance.

"But we have to be cognizant of the fact that the fund balance is not a stream source to balance budget," which is there for emergency purposes, she said.

 The county says they'll consider giving increasing the school budget next year after saving up some money.

Commissioners say they'll use the extra $2 million to raise county salaries, buy new patrol cars, defibrillators, and other things. Commissioners must finalize their budget by July 1.

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