DAVIDSON COUNTY — Superintendents for Thomasville, Lexington and Davidson County schools updated county commissioners last week on the status of local funding, what it currently provides and future needs in anticipation of the county’s 2021-22 fiscal year budget.
Emily Lipe, superintendent of Davidson County Schools, began by addressing a unique funding source the schools came by during the 2020-21 school year. COVID-19 funds have been applied to improving air quality and ventilation, which she said has allowed the county to leverage its capital needs related to air quality, such as replacing or repairing cooling towers and upgrading HVAC systems.
This frees up sources of funding from the county to go toward other needs.
“We are especially grateful for the additional per-pupil and capital project allocation that was provided in January of this year to the Davidson County School System,” Lipe said. “While we understand this funding positions us to address many critical needs, we also must be mindful and strategically plan for the sustainability of the resources and personnel gained as a result of this funding.”
Cate Gentry, superintendent of Thomasville City Schools, mentioned the hope that the school systems could see continued increase in per-pupil funding, which ranks below state and national averages. TCS, serving more than 2,400 individuals who make up the student body, benefited from the same unexpected source of income in the way of federal funding courtesy of the CARES Act.
A federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CARES Act contributed direct funding to local schools, including TCS, which allocated funding for supplies and staffing purposes. A majority of funds obtained from the federal government went toward procuring thermometers, masks, cleaning supplies, signage and mental health services.
That was not the only boost TCS received over the last calendar year. The schools still have a long way to go, however, the superintendents reiterated to commissioners.
“Thomasville was very lucky to see some significant gains in local capital,” Gentry said. “Also, a steady increase in the per-pupil allotments has been helpful. We continue to request that the board look to get us toward the state average of per-pupil expenditures. Our capital money is fantastic. We still lag behind the average for per-pupil expenditures, which is our daily expenses.”
The county’s proposed budget this year includes an additional $1 million for annual capital outlay for the schools. Increases in the operating funding will bring per-pupil totals to $1,246.78 per student.
Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.