Mattamuskeet High School on the mainland is among the schools the Hyde County Board of Education oversees. Photo: C. Leinbach

Observer staff report

The Hyde County Commissioners voted Thursday night to fully fund the Hyde County Board of Education’s request for the 2022-2023 school year.

The commissioners voted 3-2 to approve an amendment to the budget to appropriate an additional $412,000 to the $1.3 million the Hyde County schools’ appropriation. The action restores a $400,000 cut from the county’s already-approved budget, which went into effect July 1.

Of the five county commissioners, Ben Simmons (Fairfield Township) and Shannon Swindell (Currituck Township) voted against it.

Hyde County Manager Kris Noble said the money would come out of the county’s fund balance, which is like a savings account for emergencies.

The vote concludes a mediation process that began on July 1 when Commissioner Chair Earl Pugh Jr. and Noble received a notice to reopen the funding of the schools via a mediation process.

A special meeting was convened at 8 a.m. July 4 for the two boards to approve a resolution authorizing their attorneys to recommend a mediator on whom both boards would agree, who was Benjamin G. Alford, a retired judge for the Second Division of the Superior Court.

The reduction to the education budget of $400,000 from the previous fiscal year was due to a current budget crisis, triggering the cut back, according to Noble.

In a meeting on June 6 between the Hyde County Commissioner Education Committee and the Board of Education, Noble said she explained the need to reduce funding and asked if the cut to the budget was acceptable.

Pugh, in the first open meeting on July 13, said that interim superintendent, Steven Blackstock, had said it could work. However, BOE Chair Angie Todd of Ocracoke clarified that Blackstock also said he couldn’t promise that amount would work without cutting services.

Pugh said that there was no further discussion between June 6 and the June 27 Hyde County budget approval meeting.

So, the commissioners were surprised on July 1 when they received the request to reopen the funding of the schools via a mediation process.

The amount of funding that Hyde County appropriates is roughly a little more than 20% of the overall education budget.

Most of the funds to administer the school are from the state Department of Public Instruction and from the federal government.

The BOE produced its FY 2021-2022 budget that ended on June 23 for the operation of Hyde County schools, which totaled $16.9 million. 

The open meetings can be viewed on the Hyde County Public Information Facebook page.

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