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Haywood School Board restores funding for music, sports

schoolsAlthough the closing of Central Elementary School was met with cheers, jeers, and even a lawsuit, its recent closure is already yielding positive results for the rest of the district’s budget.

Last month, the Haywood County School Board was faced with a staggering $2.4 million budget shortfall and announced many deep cuts, including teacher and coaching positions and extracurricular activities like chorus and band. But the shuttering of Central has inadvertently allowed for the band to play on, the chorus to sing, teachers to teach, and coaches to coach.

On June 6, the school board was able to restore funding for assistant coaches, four part-time teachers at the Haywood County Learning Center, chorus supplies, and band equipment and travel expenses, to the tune of $107,000.

And the school board appeared happy to do so. When Board Member Jim Francis, who is chairman of the Finance Committee, made a motion approve the reinstatement proposal put forth by Superintendent Dr. Anne Garrett, it was seconded before he could even read aloud the details of the proposal. 

“Several things have come to light,” Francis said. 

Indeed, Central’s closing saves $20,000 in electricity bills alone.

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Additional savings will also result from the elimination of the principal’s position at Central and a mentoring program that trains new principals — principals the school board says won’t be needed any time soon. It was announced last month that Haywood County Schools did lose former Central Principal Jeanann Yates to Pisgah Elementary School due to the Central closure.

School Board Member Rhonda Schandevel was pleased with the reinstatements. 

“While school boards all across North Carolina are being asked to do more with less, because of the strong fiscal management of the Haywood County School Board I’m happy that we have been able to work with local leaders to find a way to keep successful programs like the Haywood County Learning Center open during this time of short-sighted budget cuts,” she said. 

The $2.4 million budget shortfall and the closing of Central left state legislators and school board members pointing fingers at each other over who was to blame. A $1.6 million increase in teacher salaries was partly to blame, however, Haywood’s education budget from the state provided only $600,000 toward that increase. Additionally, a $500,000 cut in lottery money from the state contributed to the situation. 

Enrollment in Haywood County Schools had been dropping steadily over the past decade, with 800 less students enrolled today than in 2006. Whoever is at fault, the reality of the budget left school officials wondering how they could continue to maintain 16 schools. 

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