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A Deeper Look Into ACS's FY22 Budget

During the May 10th meeting of the Asheville City Board of Education, the Board unanimously approved the district’s Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) Budget Request to Buncombe County Commissioners as presented by our Chief Finance Officer, Georgia Harvey.  Additionally, they approved the consideration of a separate request by Board Members up to $3,000,000 specifically for Pre-K. 

Therefore, at this time, a Special Called Meeting of the Asheville City Board of Education is not required to pass the FY22 Budget and supplemental request, as it has already been approved.  

Asheville City Schools’ initial FY22 Local Budget Request was for $30,180,189 - 70% of which supports locally paid staff.  This request would be used to meet local expenses as well as increases in the projected retirement rate from 21.68% to 24.37% and rise in employer hospitalization costs from $6,326 to $6,580 per employee as set by the North Carolina General Assembly.  

The initial FY22 Local Budget Request is $3.6 million more than what was requested to the County Commissioners in May 2020.  However, the projected budget is $835,838 less than the district’s FY21 Local Budget.  Predominantly, this savings comes through employee attrition.  As a staff member resigns or retires, the Board is examining each position to determine whether or not it will be filled.  

During the 2020-2021 school year, the district used $3 million from its local general fund, which has been steadily dwindling for years.  As shared during last Thursday’s Budget Presentation, a responsible general fund balance for a district of our size from year to year is around $5 million.  Asheville City Schools began FY21 with a fund balance of $5,095,786.  After allocating $3 million to pay for this year’s expenses, we anticipate only being left with $2.1 millon for carry over.  This means we would not be able to cover the same continuing expenses for the 2021-2022 school year.

Knowing this, Asheville City Schools’ initial request to the County Commissioners does not include utilizing any of our remaining fund balance for fiscal year 2022.  Instead, it calls upon strictly using funds from County General Fund 2, City Tax Fund 2, Sales Tax Fund 8 as well as  includes an estimated collection of Fines & Forfeitures. 

Additionally, Board Chair James Carter asked the Commissioners for an additional $3,000,000 because the Board is currently considering five scenarios, regarding both its Montessori School and Preschool Program, for Asheville Primary.   The School Board will be making a final decision regarding the use of the APS campus during their May 24th meeting.  Therefore the revised local request, which was sent to the County Commissioners on May 12th, is $33,180,189.  


APS Options

The $3,000,000 would cover the most expensive option of serving up to 192 students with 11 total classrooms - 3 at Asheville Primary School, 1 at Hall Fletcher Elementary School, 2 at Ira B. Jones Elementary School, 1 at Isaac Dickson Elementary School, 1 at Lucy S. Herring Elementary School as well as three within the community, 2 at the Lonnie D. Burton Center and 1 at Maple Crest Apartments.  

The total estimated cost to run such a program would be $4,010,000.  Minus the estimated $1,000,000 in projected revenue, it would cost the district an additional $3,000,000 from local funds.  

If the Board selected Plan A, 70% of the money would go toward staffing both in school and community-based sites.  Additionally, approximately $500,000 would go toward necessary APS repairs such as mold abatements and partially repairing the water line; these upgrades would be paramount should children be in the building next school year.  Other costs would include:  supplies, insurance, utilities, outdoor playground equipment and upkeep, breakfast and lunch - which is served at no additional cost to our families, transportation and maintenance.

The initial FY22 Local Budget Request included $1,900,000 specifically earmarked for Pre-K.  Therefore, any scenario other than Option D would require an increase in cost.  To allow for all options to be considered, the Board is requesting additional funding.  

Asheville City Schools is proud to partner with Buncombe County Commissioners and appreciates their continued support in educating our students.