Schools propose 08-09 budgets

The County Commissioners have received the proposed budgets from both school systems. According to the Chapel Hill Herald, the city schools are requesting $61.2 million, a %12.56 increase in last year's budget. The county system is requesting an %8.35 increase to $23.8, which is actually less than they asked for last year.

The county school board recognizes, "the fiscal realities of the day," said school board Chairman Ted Triebel.

"[The budget] is well-researched, fully-debated and it is lean, very lean," he said. "This new fiscal approach, this minimal budget, comes with high expectations and confidence that you, our board of county commissioners, will favorably respond to the citizens of our district and look at this responsible budget to provide the necessary opportunities for our county's youth."

- County praises school boards' budgets, 4/23/08

I thought it might helpful to get some background to compare the school systems. According to, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools had 11,037 students at the end of the 06-07 school year, while the Orange County system had 6,729. According to the, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools had 2,934 students last year, while the Orange County system had 2,030. What else accounts for the disparity between systems?

What do you think of the requested budgets? Are they as lean as the superintendents say? And if so, do you think the Commissioners wil respond by fully funding them?



Background presentations for both school systems can be found at the site below. 


I have not studied the CHCCS budget as my child is in Orange County Schools (OCS).

The OCS budget IS lean. The bulk of the new money requested will maintain current expenses and will cover the state mandated raises. What I learned about funding last year is that some positions are paid by state funds and some are paid by local funds - therefore some raises are paid from state funds and the raises for positions paid by local funds are the responsibility of the local funding body - and MUST be equivalent to the state mandated raises.

The figures of 2,934 & 2,030 students in each district are wrong (it appears you added the average number of students in elementary, middle, & high school without taking into account that there is more than one of each). CHCCS has over 11,000 students and OCS has approximately 7,000 students.

The Central Office for OCS prepared an excellent power point explaining the budget history and where the funds go:

NC Dept of Public Instruction figures show the following breakdown of per-pupil funding/sources in OCS:

$ 3,264 from local funds
$ 5,024 from state funds
$ 508 from federal funds

$8,796 Total per pupil expenditures

So - what is driving the increase this year?

1. Raises & increased benefits costs
2. Increased health insurance costs
3. Increased fuel costs (heating/cooling; transportation)
4. Increased food costs (OCSB recently approved a request to raise the meal rates in the cafeterias to partially address this)

Total increased costs mandated by the state are $1,226,001 (include raises, benefits, and exceptional children's programs teachers).

Total for continuation of current services is $194,443 (fuel and inflationary increases)

Then there is $113,117 in anticipated expenses for increased enrollment.

The expansion budget requested for new initiatives is less than $300,00.

So yes, I think the OCS budget is lean. I hope that the BOCC will be able to meet the request.

I will note that I have not examined data on the full budget request. I do know that there are schools in our district with some serious renovation needs that are being addressed, but I think those funds come through a separate funding stream. School appropriations and funding is very complex.


I thought those numbers seemed low!  Thanks for the correction and thougthful comments.

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