By Paul T. Choate
Aug. 6, 2012. On Friday, Aug. 3, the Watauga County School System Budget Committee met to discuss the proposed budget for the 2012 – 2013 school year. Most items did not need further discussion, but a few issues were revised by the committee.
The proposed budget for the 2012 – 2013 budget comes in at $11,840,145, the same as the 2011 – 2012 adopted budget. There was a 1.2 percent pay increase for all state employees that were on contract as of July 1. According to Ly Marze, WCS finance officer, the county has agreed to fund the 1.2 percent increase.
“[Watauga County] gave us basically what we asked for,” said Marze.
The only major revision was to the $89,000 set aside to purchase 80 laptops for Watauga High School. Superintendent David Kafitz agreed with other members of the Budget Committee that it would be better to reallocate those funds into the School Tech Plan – set at $100,000 prior to fund reallocation – and a reevaluation be done on exactly how many laptops need to be purchased.
Dr. Kafitz added that WHS would get “first dibs” on any money needed within the consolidated $189,000 to purchase as many laptops as needed, but that if additional funding was available out of the $89,000 it could potentially provide additional opportunities for other schools in Watauga.
“I would rather we buy what we need,” said Dr. Kafitz. “I would hate to buy 80 laptops and 50 of them go unused and be sitting in a box two years later.”
Dr. Kafitz is known to be a strong supporter of the “1 to 1” (one laptop for every student) initiative. He added that he will contact WHS principle Marshall Gasperson to find out exactly what WHS needs.
Another line-item issue of note was “line item 44,” the $6,000 allocated to the Cultural Arts Programs. Committee members agreed that, due to the Watauga County Arts Council being in somewhat of a transitional phase, that line of the budget was in question. It was noted that Appalachian State University has shown some interest in becoming a larger part of the Cultural Arts Programs. Committee members agreed that more discussion with Cherry Johnson, executive director of WCAC, was needed.
Many long-term budget issues were tabled until the next Budget Committee Meeting in February of 2013.
For more information, visit watauga.k12.nc.us.