Advocates say WCPSS students deserve more from county budget
Posted June 6, 2016
Raleigh, N.C. — Advocates for Wake County schools gave the Wake County Board of Commissioners an earful Monday night when the meeting was opened up for public comment about plans for next year’s budget.
The proposed Wake County budget increases funding to schools, but it does not give the Wake County Public School System all the money it asked for.
“The proposal is weak,” said WakeUp Wake County Chair, Julia Lee. “It is a sound investment, it is our future.”
There is an $11.8 million gap between the $35.7 million the district requested and the $23.9 million increase proposed in the county budget.
“Our students deserve more,” said teacher Kristen Beller. “Wake County Public Schools has made it easy for you to identify their needs.”
Steve Parrot with the Wake Education Partnership said that per-pupil funding has remained virtually flat since 2008. Enrollment in Wake County schools has increased by 14 percent since 2008, school board members noted, while state funding is down 2 percent per student during that span.
School officials said that if they are not fully funded, there could be cuts. Class sizes could increase, the number of supplies could be reduced, the athletics department could see increased fees and there would be delayed performance pay for teachers.
“All these things they would have to cut, we are only just learning about that,” said Wake County Board of Commissioners Chair James West. “Our data right now doesn’t necessarily support that, but we are gathering the information to see if that is in fact the case.”
West said there are a number of competing interests the budget must answer, but advocates for schools said the district has been underfunded for years now.
“You are going to have to do something significant to address all these issues,” said Larry Nilles with Wake NCAE.
School advocates put a lot of the funding blame on state lawmakers. Other speakers at Monday night’s meeting asked commissioners to look for waste in the school system and make sure money was being used equally.
A vote on the budget is expected later this month.