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Public pushes New Hanover County commissioners to help address NHCS' budget crisis


At Monday's New Hanover County Commissioners meeting, members of the public spoke in favor of more funding for public schools.

New Hanover County Schools are facing a budget shortfall of $20 million. School officials have already spoken about a worst-case scenario in which 279 positions would be cut.

A large portion of the deficit comes from federal covid-reliefs funds that are running dry — and many personnel positions were funded using those temporary dollars.

Residents at Monday’s meeting voiced concern and disapproval with county commissioners, who partially fund the schools along with federal and state dollars.

Commissioners, in turn, voiced their concerns and frustrations. Commissioner Jonathan Barfield said commissioners are not in any place to tell the school board what to do with the money they are given — a sentiment he’s voiced many times.

He noted that many emails he’d received were “misplaced at best,” and should be addressed to the Board of Education.

Commissioner LeAnn Pierce noted that she felt similarly to residents: “Quite honestly, we’re just as taken aback as you are at a $20 million shortfall. And we’re looking at each other like ‘how are we going to pay for that?’ You just saw our budget.”

Pierce was talking about the county’s budget, which while balanced, doesn’t have an extra $20 million in it.