Stories and photos by Wingate Lassiter
unless otherwise noted


Schools will ask County Commissioners
for another $8.8 million to balance budget

Superintendent of Schools Jim Causby told Johnston's Board of Education this week that he will be asking the County Commissioners for more than $8.8 million to cover a budget shortfall facing Johnston County Public Schools this fiscal year.

Here are the numbers he presented to the school board on Tuesday:

$76,820,347 is the schools' revised budget after cuts of almost $10 million from the original budget approved by the board last spring.

$67,945,918 is the county's current appropriation for the schools.

$8,874,429 is what's needed to bring the revised budget into balance.

Dr. Causby will present that request at the commissioners' December 2 meeting.

He told the school board that cuts made to the original budget included $1,815,000 in adjustments for unfilled teacher vacancies, $936,000 in adjustments for unfilled support-staff positions, $1,765,503 for supplies, materials & travel (mostly Central Office expenses, he said), $278,000 in administrator reductions (including unfilled assistant principal positions, he noted), and other items outside the classroom.

If the commissioners can't come up with the requested $8.8 million, Dr. Causby said, the next step in budget cuts will involve "reduction in force," meaning layoffs of unspecified school employees.

Regarding teacher vacancies, "we have not put a hiring freeze in place," said the superintendent, "but we are looking to make sure they are essential" before more teachers are hired.

READ MORE from Tuesday's meeting of the Board of Education>

John Hobart (center) is flanked by Karen Lippitt, Hospital Foundation board member who presented his award, and Stewart McLeod, the board's chairman, at the annual social October 24. (Johnston Health photo)

Hospital Foundation honors John Hobart,
who served as its first chairman in 1992


Even at age 90, John Hobart of Smithfield still has the energy to deliver meals, participate in Rotary, and deliver Christmas trees to needy families. It’s his way of life. And service to humanity, he says, borrowing from the Jaycee creed, has been the "best work" of his life.

At its annual social, the Johnston Health Foundation honored Mr. Hobart for his service to community. Former hospital administrator Leland Farnell, who helped launch the foundation in 1992, introduced Mr. Hobart to the well-attended event at the Country Club of Johnston County.

"He serves the community behind the scenes without seeking credit," Mr. Farnell said. "He’s a Renaissance man whose interests have ranged from promoting the arts to leading the foundation to serving on the state board of history. He’s a man who serves without seeking credit."

Prior to the foundation, there was no sure vehicle through which people could make donations to the county-owned hospital, Mr. Farnell said. Having a foundation in place was an important step in the hospital’s growth, and a way to engage and reflect the community’s support, as it sought out grants, he said.

Mr. Hobart got interested in health care after having heart-bypass surgery in 1988, and a cancer surgery a year later. So, when the foundation board needed a chairman, it elected someone who was particularly passionate about providing the best possible care at the local hospital, Mr. Farnell said.

"And he didn’t just talk a good game," he said. "He used the local hospital and local physicians, and he shared his positive experiences as a patient."

As the first chairman, Mr. Hobart focused primarily on bringing in equipment and developing the first cardiopulmonary center, which was on the ground floor of the hospital. He remembers feeling especially proud on the day that the foundation presented a $50,000 check for the project.

Mr. Hobart and his wife, Frankie, are philanthropists. In 2006, the couple established a volunteer community-service award endowment with the North Carolina Community Foundation. And he gives an award every year honoring an employee of Davidson College, his alma mater.

Mr. Hobart was the dean of student affairs at Johnston Community College for 21 years before retiring in 1990. He said his interest in service began when he was a Boy Scout. "I’ve always been an advocate for community service," he said. "And I so appreciate being honored by the foundation.

READ MORE about John Hobart, who helped launch Johnston Community College 50 years ago this fall, on this week's FEATURE PAGE>