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Johnston County Schools Looking To Fill $9 Million Budget Hole

A hallway with a row of red lockers at a public school in Durham.
Brian Batista
A hallway with a row of red lockers at a public school in Durham.

Board of Education officials in Johnston County are struggling to fill an almost $9 million dollar budget shortfall.  The board will ask county commissioners for more money at the Dec. 2 meeting.

The Johnston County School district knew it was over budget, but it didn’t know by how much until September, when Jim Causby became the interim Superintendent and started looking into the finances.

“So that leaves us at this time, needing an additional county appropriation of $8,874,429,” Causby said at a board meeting last week.

Causby said the biggest factor in the shortfall is that state and federal funds don’t cover the cost of all students with exceptional needs. Causby said his district is on the hook for more than $9 million to fill that gap.

After discovering the budget problems, the Johnston County School Board made significant adjustments to cut costs. They've shuffled staff to unfilled positions and left some positions empty.

But they’re still almost 10 percent under-funded for the year.

School officials say they hope to avoid making any cuts that would change children's experience in the classroom.

Causby anticipates that the school district will get the funding it needs, but if not, he said they will find a way to keep schools open through the spring.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the date for the next Johnston County Board meeting.

Cole del Charco is an audio producer and writer based in Durham. He's made stories for public radio's All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Marketplace. Before joining Due South, he spent time as a freelance journalist, an education and daily news reporter for WUNC, and a podcast producer for WFAE in Charlotte.
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