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Cumberland County Schools look to replace more than 13,000 Chromebooks

Finance Committee recommends belated 2021-22 school year budget

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The Finance Committee of the Cumberland County Board of Education on Thursday recommended awarding a contract to buy 13,257 Lenovo Chromebooks to replace aging student devices and as an initiative to support instruction in the classroom.

The recommendation now goes to the full board for consideration during its next regular monthly meeting on Feb. 8.

The bid, submitted by Y&S Technologies, totaled $4.7 million. Including sales tax, the overall purchase would be $4.4 million for the Chromebooks and just over $290,000 for the “white glove services,” which includes etching, setup and distribution to students.

“We got the Chromebooks, but then they need to be prepped. Images placed on them to get them set up for Cumberland County Schools,” said Clyde Locklear Jr., the school system’s associate superintendent for Business Operations. “We etch the Chromebooks with our logo and identification so they are clearly identified as our equipment.”

The administration recommended awarding the contract to Y&S Technologies.

The Finance Committee also recommended awarding contracts to Y&S Technologies and Visions of Video for the purchase of roughly 200 televisions with mounts to be placed in classrooms. Pricing was solicited to provide a convenience contract for the purchase of those televisions when needed.

The administration recommended awarding purchase contracts to the companies for the proposed equipment, saying they meet all of the bid specifications. They are:

– 55-inch televisions and mounts for $583 apiece from Y&S Technologies, as needed to replace older sets.

– 32-inch televisions and mounts for $308.04 each from Visions of Video, as needed to replace older sets.

Like Y&S Technologies, Visions of Video is a current vendor with the school system.

Budget discussion

The committee also voted unanimously to approve the budget that totals nearly $761 million. It moves forward to be considered by the full board on Feb. 8.

Approximately $367.8 million comes from the State Public School Fund and an overall $107.28 million from the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners.

“It is funny we’re talking about adopting a budget which is unusual in January,” Locklear said.

The state budget was delayed until the November and December time frame.

“We’re bringing the formal budget,” Locklear said.

The budget was initially recommended in April after first being developed in August 2020. In the interim, the school board has been operating on a continuous budget.

The budget focuses on three major priorities:

– Raising the local supplement for staff;

– Improving low-performance schools;

– And combating learning loss.

The budget includes $7.4 million, or about a 9.2% increase, to create a modern learning environment, invest in premier professionals, maintain an exceptional learning environment and address anticipated legislative increases.

Primary funding is received through state, federal and local dollars.

All employees have been approved for a premier bonus of $1,000 to $1,500.

An average of a 2 1/2% increase in salary has been recommended for principals and assistant principals. State-funded school principals also are in line to receive bonuses of $1,800 while assistant principals “are added a step on their salary schedules,” Locklear said.

Most Cumberland County Schools employees are funded out of the state budget. So, if state-funded employees receive an increase in their salaries, the school system must ensure that employees funded out of local and federal funds also receive the same increase, said Lindsay Whitley, a spokesman for the school system. Some increases are one-time bonuses and some are annual salary increases, Whitley said.

Central office staff, including directors, coordinators and supervisors, have a recommended salary increase of 2.5%, according to the school budget.

The budget’s capital outlay includes nearly $3.3 million from the N.C. Education Lottery.

The budget now goes to the full board for approval. The county Board of Commissioners already has approved the funding that is being provided to the school system, Whitley said.

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Cumberland County Schools, budget, Chromebooks