Board of Education accepts grant to help supply new SROs

ASHEBORO — The Randolph County Board of Education met Monday, February 20, with mostly financial updates and dealings on the agenda. 

Superintendent Stephen Gainey presented to the board a current expense request to be brought before the Randolph Board of Commissioners in May for a supplement increase for classified employees.

“The new current expense request will be a supplement increase for classified employees by 1.5%,” Gainey said. “The total cost of this additional current expense request will be $430,000, and if approved, it would take our supplement percentage for classified employees from 3.75% to 5.25%.”

“Many times when the state does raises, classified employees get missed. We’ve talked about our 197 locally paid employees. Most of them are classified employees. There are no teachers on local pay. There’s no locally paid assistant principals or locally paid principals. I feel very good about this additional request. We have a lot of workforce needs in the classified employee group.”

The board was also presented with the findings from their 2021-22 audit. 

“I’m pleased to announce that our opinion form for your financial statements is unmodified, which is the best opinion you can get, and in school finance terms, it’s an A+,” said Shannon Dennison, CPA with Anderson Smith & Wike PLLC who did Randolph County Schools audit.

According to the audit, as of June 30, 2022, Randolph County Schools had a general fund balance of $5.2 million and a capital outlay fund of $2.2 million. Dennison also touched on the district’s child nutrition fund.

“Last year, you gained $2.56 million in funds for child nutrition, so you have $6.9 million in cash in the child nutrition program,” Dennison said. “Last year was a little unique in that it was continuing on from COVID, so all the students received free meals, and the federal reimbursement rate was higher than a normal year, so I would not expect that to remain a trend next year.”

However, the sizable savings will allow Randolph County Schools to be able to operate without much disturbance from rising food prices, at least for a little while, according to Dennison.

“I’m just thankful it’s pretty healthy right now because it will probably take a hit,” said board chair Gary Cook. “They’ve done a good job of managing it and keeping it up. I guess planning for a rainy day was pretty smart.”

The board then approved the second reading of the school calendar for the 2024-25 school year.

“The calendar includes 180 student days, 14 teacher workdays, 11 holidays, and 10 annual leave days,” said Executive Director of Operations Dale Brinkley. “The first day for students will be on Monday, August 26, 2024, and the last day for students will be on Tuesday, June 10, 2025. The calendar includes an inclement weather make-up plan where the first five days missed are absorbed, and then days will be made up as scheduled.”

The board also approved the 2023-24 school calendar for Randolph Early College High School, which has the same breakdown of days but will align its start and end time with the Randolph Community College schedule. 

“Early College programs have flexibility with their calendar guidelines that traditional schools do not have,” Brinkley said.

The board then approved the acceptance of a $57,965.95 Local Food for Schools Grant that was awarded by the United States Department of Agriculture through the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Food Distribution Division that will go towards the additional purchase of locally sourced food to be used for school meals.

“A lot of stuff is made from scratch now, and the nutrition staff, there’s not a lot of them working in the school, so for them to go in… they just do so much,” Cook said. “Three at most in most places, and you’re cooking from scratch for that many people, that says a lot. You used to hear complaints a little bit, but overall you don’t hear that now. People talk about how good the food is. We appreciate all of that.”

Finally, the board approved the acceptance of a $176,000 Center for Safer Schools Safety Grant in order to help fund additional SROs for the elementary schools.

“We have to submit a mid-year and end-of-year report, and as long as we submit that documentation, we get the $176,000 again for next school year,” Brinkley said. “Right now, though, it’s just for this year and next year.”

The Randolph County Board of Education will next meet March 20.

By Ryan Henkel, North State Journal