Local News

Cumberland School, County Officials Face Off Over Funding

Posted August 29, 2002 5:34 a.m. EDT

— In tight budget times, counties and school boards across the state are facing off over funding. Cumberland County leaders are working on a plan they hope will stop the fighting.

Like a formula in math class, county and school leaders are trying to solve a problem. At Fayetteville's State Of Our Community Luncheon, leaders talked about a new formula they hope will stop the budget battles. Two years ago, the Board of Education sued the county over funding. The county ended up having to raise property taxes by 2.5 cents.

"We can't just keep raising the property tax rate. That's why it's essential to come up with a formula that is fair to the county and fair to the school board," said Breeden Blackwell, chairman of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners.

The plan is still in development, but essentially, schools would be funded based on the county's property tax revenues. School leaders are also encouraged by the formula, but some say for the plan to work, it would have to be etched in stone.

"When we go up 2,600 students and that wasn't what the formula was based on, they shouldn't just go, 'Uh. Here's last year's budget times the percentage. Here you go,'" said Michael Boose, chairman of the board of education.

Officials say there are a few sticking points that remain. They include the amount the county will pay for each student and how much they will contribute to new schools. Both sides hope to have the plan in place by January.