Wake County Schools

County commissioners question WCPSS 'record request' for funding

Posted April 10

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— Wake County Commissioners have a decision to make after Wake County schools submitted one of the largest requests for funding they’ve received in years.

“Where is the money going and how are we dealing with it? This is a record request,” said Commissioner Erv Portman

In his $1.6 billion budget proposal, Superintendent Jim Merrill asked the county for an increase of about $56 million in funding to pay for the cost of growth, inflation, legislative influence and new programs, among other things.

In a presentation Monday, County Manager Johnna Rogers said the county is responsible for paying just $12 million of the $56 million request.

“We want to make sure the way we totally approach this is making sure we kind of met minimum responsibilities, just to give you an order of what that starting point would look like,” Rogers said.

Commissioners said they need to have quite a few questions answered before they sign off on a budget.

For example, state law will require schools to reduce class sizes in kindergarten through third grade. Commissioners want to know how Wake schools came up with a figure of $13 million to meet class reduction requirements.

“We’re working on a list of questions to really understand how they’re arriving at these numbers,” Rogers said.

One major point of frustration for commissioners is what they’re calling a shift in responsibility from the state to the county.

They believe it is an issue that could have long term impacts.

“The more we fund, it seems like the more the request is and I’m concerned about the impact that has on our tax payers,” said Portman.

Commissioners are expected to make a final decision on the budget in June.

4 Comments

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  • Shannon Robbins Apr 11, 12:00 p.m.
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    Lynn Wilhelm: Actually, Wakefield High made an empty grocery store in Wake Forest its "Freshman Campus" so, yeah, an empty box store could be a starting point.

  • Lynn Wilhelm Apr 11, 10:41 a.m.
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    Brian, your comment is one of the reasons our school systems are having so much trouble. People like you continuously expect educators to do more with less.
    One of the most important things we do in this country is educate our citizens.
    You know perfectly well that a vacant big box store wouldn't be adequate for educating our community's children.
    You can't just pop in some walls and make a school. Bathrooms, kitchens, adequate heating/cooling, outdoor space and even windows are also important.

    I know that Wake county has used existing buildings for schools several times, but they were much larger. Sometimes it's just easier/cheaper to build new though.

    Commissioners need to listen to the school system and provide what's needed to properly educate our students in this fast growing area.

  • Stacie Hagwood Apr 11, 6:20 a.m.
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    Maybe it is because they have been DEfunded for the last 4 years.

  • Brian Tucker Apr 11, 5:04 a.m.
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    Enough is Enough ! I hope the county commissioners tell Wake schools " NO " ! The taxpayers can't handle anymore increases, just so the school system can have top of the line schools built ... take a vacant K Mart and put a school there.