Log in Newsletter


What you need to know about Cumberland County Schools’ proposed $602 million budget for next year


Editor's note: This article was updated to reflect that the board will simply receive the budget, not vote on it, after the Board of Education issued a correction to its agenda Tuesday.

The Cumberland County Board of Education will receive Tuesday  Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly Jr.’s proposed $602.3 million budget for fiscal year 2024-25.

The board, which meets at 6 p.m. at the Central Services building at 2465 Gillespie St., will hear further details on the suggested budget. The proposed budget could see over $21 million taken from the school system’s fund balance to account for positions funded by federal programs that will end in the coming months, according to the budget booklet.

For example, the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund provided $3.6 billion to North Carolina schools “to help safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools” and mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the N.C. Dept. of Public Instruction. Those funds end in September.

According to the Cumberland County Schools budget booklet for fiscal year 2024-25, which begins July 1 and ends June 30, 2025, the following positions were funded by ESSER:

  • 31 middle school teachers
  • 31 social workers
  • 24 counselors
  • 21 Central Services jobs

Now, the school system must take $13,951,000 from its fund balance to account for those positions and 92.3 positions lost due to decreases in state funding, the booklet states. 

According to a presentation that will be given by Associate Superintendent of Business Operations Jay Toland, the school system’s fund balance will stand at $37.5 million on June 30. After the necessary money is taken out for the fiscal year 2025 budget, the balance will have $16.3 million remaining for fiscal year 2026, Toland’s presentation states.

Connelly warned in the budget booklet that taking money from the fund balance won’t be a permanent solution. 

“[T]his plan is not sustainable for future budget years as the fund balance is one-time money and creates a significant deficiency if it is continually relied upon to balance a budget,” Connelly wrote. “As a school district, we are unable to generate other forms of revenue.” 

Looking forward, the school system will need additional funding from the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners, Connelly said. This year, he is recommending that the school board ask for $3.5 million in additional funding from county commissioners, bringing the school system’s total funding from the county to just over $91 million, according to the budget booklet. That represents a slight increase from last year, when the school system requested $88.1 million in funding from the county, according to the fiscal year 2023-24 budget booklet.

Items of note in the proposed budget include:

  • A 3% salary increase for certified and classified employees
  • A state-mandated 3% raise and increase in employer-matching health insurance for all school system employees, which will be funded by a $1.8 million request to the county
  • A 6% projected increase in utility costs, which will be funded by a $730,378 request to the county
  • The continuation of a number of programs funded by the ESSER program, including the Canvas application, the Scribbles record transfer software and the Better Lesson content and lesson sharing community for teachers, necessitating $3.8 million from the fund balance 

According to the budget booklet, the current breakdown of the proposed budget is as follows:

  • 56.3% for employee salaries ($339.2 million)
  • 23.2% for employee benefits ($139.9 million)
  • 8.8% for contracted services ($52.8 million)
  • 6.4% for supplies ($38.3 million)
  • 4.9% for equipment ($29.6 million)
  • 0.4% for transfers ($2.6 million)

Last year, Cumberland County provided $87.5 million in funding for the school system, according to a news release.

Reporter Lexi Solomon can be reached at lsolomon@cityviewnc.com or 910-423-6500.

This story was made possible by contributions to CityView News Fund, a 501c3 charitable organization committed to an informed democracy.

Cumberland County schools, Cumberland County Board of Education, budget, Cumberland County Board of Commissioners, Dr. Marvin Connelly Jr.