- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 12, 2016

WAYNESVILLE, N.C. (AP) - Lower enrollment and reduced funding are leading the Haywood County schools to cut its budget and consider closing an elementary school, officials said Tuesday.

The school officials told local media outlets that they are trying to make up a $2.4 million deficit in local funding anticipated for the 2016-2017 school year.

“You have a decrease in funding. You have a significant decrease in the number of students, and you have a charter school opening in your own district,” Haywood County Schools Associate Superintendent Bill Nolte said. “Those are the factors that have come together to create for us a $2.4 million deficit in our local budget.”

School officials said in a news release that the system lost $933,000 in state funds due to charter school openings. Additionally, officials said $508,000 of local tax dollars were diverted to charter schools in and outside of the county.

Among planned reductions are 22 teaching positions. Officials say they hope they can make those reductions through attrition rather than layoffs.



The system is also planning to cut supplies, reduce money for band travel, cut support for athletics, eliminate two assistant principal positions and cut remediation at the high school and middle school.

School officials are also studying the shutdown of Central Elementary School. Board members authorized a study of the possible closing on Monday. Study results are expected on Jan. 21.

School Superintendent Anne Garrett said school officials met with the staff at Central Elementary Tuesday morning to talk about the possibility of closing the school. The system is also sending letters to parents.

Closing the school will only provide about 20 percent of the savings needed by the system, so officials said they needed to make the additional reductions to teaching positions and other areas.

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