Have You Ever Wondered How Forsyth County Funds Schools?

While public education is primarily a responsibility of the State; all counties are required to fund a portion of the operating and capital expenses for local public school systems. In fact, the General Statutes specify several categories that must be provided for mainly from local revenues including:

  1. Buildings, furniture, and apparatus [G.S. 115C-521(b)]
  2. Garage and maintenance equipment for school buses [G.S. 115C-249(e)]
  3. Liability insurance [G.S. 115C-47(25)]
  4. Maintenance of plant [G.S. 115C-521(c) to 115C-524]
  5. Site acquisition [G.S. 115C-517]
  6. Furnishing of superintendent’s office [G.S. 115C-277]
  7. School building supplies [G.S. 115C-522(c)]
  8. Water supply and sewerage facilities [G.S. 115C-522(c)]

Source: County and Municipal Government in North Carolina © 2007 UNC- Chapel Hill School of Government

Most counties, including Forsyth County, provide funding above and beyond the legal mandates. This additional funding is used to pay for local enhancements, such as extra teaching positions to reduce class sizes, teacher and staff salary supplements, and other programs and services in response to unique local needs. However, counties do not have the ability to require school systems to use the additional funding for any purpose.

Forsyth County’s budget ordinance includes two appropriations for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School System – Current Expense and Capital Outlay. Current Expense funding includes instructional, support, and other operating expenditures of the school system. The Current Expense allocation for FY18 is $115,827,688 which is an increase over FY17. The Capital Outlay fund includes appropriations for site acquisition, new buildings, renovations of existing buildings, furnishings and equipment, new school buses, activity buses, and other vehicles. The Capital Outlay allocation for FY18 is $8,779,083 which is also an increase over FY17.

In addition to Current Expense and Capital Outlay, the County budget also includes a significant outlay of dollars for debt service associated with the construction of school facilities. In FY18, the debt service for WSFCS is 69.6% of Forsyth County’s debt service budget - $44,143,607. This is an increase over FY17.

Debt Service for WS/FC Schools

Source: Forsyth County Budget Documents, FY07-FY18

When all expenses are taken into account, the total appropriation for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools is $168,750,378. The effective tax rate for this expenditure represents 47.9 cents of the County’s 72.35 cent tax rate.

Total Local Spending per Pupil

Source: Forsyth County Budget Documents, FY07-FY18
NCDPI, Projected FY18 ADM

As mentioned above, County appropriations are more for operating and capital expenses like transportation services and central office functions. However, the school system can use Current Expense funds to pay for extra teaching positions and teacher supplements. For FY18, the County’s appropriation is funding approximately 341 instructional positions.