Alexander County Schools looks to cut $1.5M from budget

TAYLORSVILLE, N.C. — The Alexander County Schools district is looking for ways to cut $1.5 million from its budget.

Board members are holding a meeting Tuesday night to share information about a steep shortfall and search for input from parents and others.

Wittenburg Elementary School is like many of the schools across Alexander County.

The school was built to hold 625 students but has only 259 this year.

The district has 900 fewer students now than a decade ago and is losing state funds because of it.

“Declining enrollment has been the biggest obstacle I have faced as superintendent,” said Superintendent Jennifer Hefner. “It has been a constant decrease as far as those student numbers.”

The district attributes some of the lower enrollment to lower birth rates in Alexander County and an increase in private and charter school enrollment.

Rick Childers has grandchildren who attend school in Alexander County and isn’t sure what to cut.

“They’re looking at school consolidation and I don’t know if that’s the answer,” Childers said. “I’m not sure what the answer is. It makes me sympathetic to the people on the school board.”

The school district is also seeing the end of federal funding during the pandemic, which allowed it to fill 40 positions.

The district’s board of education said everything is on the table and district leaders are hoping for input from the community. They are asking people to sign up for work sessions to brainstorm ideas.

“We don’t know the answer to fix the shortfall,” said Hefner. “That’s why we’re going to parents, the community, and staff to ask their suggestions on what we may be able to eliminate and affect students the least”

The goal is to have a plan in place when district leaders present their budget to county commissioners in the spring of 2024.

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