Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools officials say pending legislation would require the district to share more money with charter schools— and the 2024 budget is already tight.
Chief Financial Officer Tommy Kranz presented the proposed $851,803,154 budget last week, with a warning up front.
“It sounds like you have all the money in the world, and you do not,” Kranz said. “Let me just say that unequivocally. OK, you have a lot. But you don't have enough.”
He says the district wasn’t able to put as much funding toward aging facilities, athletics, textbooks, and technology as it hoped. Pending legislation could pose even more funding challenges in the future.
House Bill 219 would require local school districts to share significantly more funds with charter schools. Dionne Jenkins, the district’s general counsel, says that includes federal reimbursements and more.
“Tuition, fees that the board receives, any sales tax refunds, pre-K funds, even if the charter school doesn't provide a pre-K program,” she said.
Kranz says the district already pays out nearly $10 million a year to charter schools.
“It takes dollars that we currently are using to meet our needs for the students in Winston Salem/Forsyth County away from us and puts it into the charter schools,” he said. “It's that simple.”
The bill would also allow charter schools to solicit funds directly from county commissioners.
It passed for first reading in the House on March 1. If enacted, it would become effective in the upcoming school year.
Amy Diaz covers education for WFDD in partnership with Report For America. You can follow her on Twitter at @amydiaze.