SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) — Johnston County Public Schools faces an $8.8-million deficit and could run out of money by April, but a former administrator is seeking a pension payout of more than $637,000.
“The situation is one of the worst in terms of actual dollars that we’ve ever worked with,” said Interim Superintendent Jim Causby.
“Dr. Causby has been working extra hard to make cautionary cuts,” said Anita Bland. “It’s very difficult because you try not to cut in the classroom. There’s only so much fluff that’s there.”
Looking at the deficit parents like Bland says there’s only one way to react.
“Surely someone knew we were headed in this direction,” said Bland.
It was only after she started looking into the $8.8-million deficit that Bland realized that $637,538.71 is earmarked for paying out former Superintendent Ross Renfrow’s pension.
“I just don’t understand how it happened,” said Bland. “None of us understand how it happened. We can’t justify it in our minds. We just can’t justify it. Especially under the circumstances, we cannot justify it.”
Since North Carolina law caps retirement for state employees making more than $100,000 a year, Johnston County Public Schools has filed an appeal to ensure Renfrow met all legal requirements to receive the pension payout, but has yet to pay him a single dime.
“Certainly we hope it ends up not being that much money that we’re being billed back from the state,” said Bland.
As they wait for the state’s ruling Johnston County Commissioners tell CBS 17 they have yet to see a formal proposal from the district.
That’s why Bland is making this plea to Renfrow.
“You had our confidence,” said Bland. “You had our trust. This is where you’ve left us. I’d ask you to do the right thing, and not ask for this.”
The Johnston County Board of Commissioners expects to hear a proposal from school system at their December 2 meeting.
Renfrow could not be reached for comment on this story.
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