Wake County Schools

Cutbacks leave Wake schools with money in bank

Posted December 5, 2012

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— Cost-cutting by the Wake County Board of Education and school district administrators has left the district with a $32 million balance that some say should be refunded to the county.

An independent firm recently completed its audit of the district's finances and determined that the school system is fiscally responsible across the board.

"As a collective, one area we've done really well is managing the finances," school board member John Tedesco said Wednesday.

Case in point, the deep cuts the district made last spring before adopting a $1.25 billion budget for 2012-13 left a $32 million balance for emergency expenses through next June.

School board policy states that the balance should no more than 6 percent of the amount the Wake County Board of Commissioners gives the district, and the current balance is over that amount by about $12 million.

"What offends me was, you don't go crying poor mouth to the commissioners, saying you need another $8 million more, which we did in the spring, when you're sitting on $32 million," Tedesco said.

School administrators asked the Board of Commissioners for an extra $8.8 million in funding to balance the annual budget, but the commissioners provided only $3.9 million.

School board policy calls for excess money above the 6 percent balance to be returned to the county, but new board Chairman Keith Sutton said the district continues to face tight financial times.

Wake County schools financial report Some say money should go to classrooms; others say return it to county

About $28 million in federal funding will disappear in 2013-14, so the district might need to tap into reserves to make up for that, Sutton said. Also, the district could put money back into building maintenance and pay for teaching assistants and bus drivers after recent cuts, he said.

"Just to sit on it because we want it to be bigger and bigger doesn't seem to be appropriate with public dollars," Tedesco said, adding that a $20 million balance provides enough of a financial cushion.

Joe Bryan, the new chairman of the Board of Commissioners, praised the school board for building a healthy reserve but said commissioners would have to consider the hefty balance when deciding on future funding requests.

"It certainly hurts their credibility of asking for more and more money," Bryan said. "The commissioners think it's reasonable to have this conversation about how much is that fund balance (and) should we have some say in it."

Sutton said he looks forward to having those budget discussions.

38 Comments

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  • snossg1 Dec 10, 12:14 p.m.

    I think this is great that they have saved money and should be rewarded not crticized. I am sure there are many things they cut that this could now be appropraited to Reward people for making tough decisions. Perhaps they can fund more graduation coaches through communities in schools of wake county? Maybe hire some TAs that were cut?

  • cwmllc1952 Dec 10, 9:28 a.m.

    All government funded departments are watching and some laughing. Policy has always been if we don't spend it all this year we can't get more next year. Fire Stations,Rescue,Police,Garbage,Road Maintanence,Accounts Receivable,Payroll and on and on.The only money management is More!More!More!!!!! More,more,more! Thanks Billy

  • JSKJ Dec 7, 4:49 p.m.

    buy some books. you realize that Wake County middle school students don't have any books don't you?

  • Comments Dec 7, 3:19 p.m.

    It's amazing that this dysfunctional system and board are allowed to TAKE 77 cents of every tax dollar we pay.

  • westernwake1 Dec 7, 10:28 a.m.

    'westernwake l In other words, the denial of the grant (if you read the full article) had nothing to do with the end of the bussing for diversity assignment policy.'

    "It didnt give a reason and you just jumped in and either assumed you knew what it was or made one up yourself." - superman

    In that case the denial of over 1.5 Billion in federal grants from 1979 to 2009 are all due to the Bussing for Diversity assignment policy (if we use your reasoning).

  • superman Dec 6, 7:58 p.m.

    westernwake l In other words, the denial of the grant (if you read the full article) had nothing to do with the end of the bussing for diversity assignment policy.

    It didnt give a reason and you just jumped in and either assumed you knew what it was or made one up yourself.

  • superman Dec 6, 7:53 p.m.

    If you want to review the boards financial responsiblity what was the balance for the last 5 years. Is the balance increasing or decreasing. How much has the budget allocation increased every year. Were there any audit exceptions or recommendations made by the auditors. Where were these savings made? Was the budget inflated? Just looking at the fund balance and making any sort of assumption is like looking at the last page of a book. I am sure they make a lot of grant applications but they dont make the news or they are discussed openly in board meetings.

    westerwake1 How about the link?

  • westernwake1 Dec 6, 11:17 a.m.

    For the 30 years (1979-2009) that the Democrats ran the Wake County School board using the bussing for diversity policy, the school system failed to get over $1.5 Billion in federal grants they applied for.

    For the two years (2010/2011) that the Republicans held a majority in the school board, the system has failed to get approx $47M in federal grants the Wake County School System applied for.

    Let's hold the feet of the Democrats to the fire for their failure to get all of this $1.5 Billion in federal grant funds for our children while they were in charge.

  • westernwake1 Dec 6, 10:54 a.m.

    "westernwake http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/09/30/710759/feds-deny-wakes-magnet-grant.html Sorry but the grant they didnt get was only 10 million" - superman

    The Wake County school system puts in for over 100 federal grants each and every single year. Most of these grants are rejected. They apply for grants for everything from fuel money, lunch program funds, facilities, technology, and everything else imaginable.

    Let's read the text of your article - 'North Carolina's largest school district was not among those sharing the $100 million in grants announced today by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. No school districts in the state were among the 36 winners... No reason was given for why Wake fell short.'

    In other words, the denial of the grant (if you read the full article) had nothing to do with the end of the bussing for diversity assignment policy.

    'He pointed out that Wake didn't win a $7.5 million grant in 2004 when it had the diversity policy.'

  • superman Dec 6, 10:24 a.m.

    beaupeep-danny22 I was Finance Director for a large school system. The funding you are making reference to is state funding and state allocation. Yes you lose them if you dont spend it. However, a school finance office will make sure the state funding is spent before you start dipping into your other resources. You dont lose federal funding or local if it is not spent. You allocate state instructional supply money first. Schools always have a lot of needs and a good finance director would never allow money to be spent and wasted. As Finance Director no person other than myself had the authority to purchase anything without my signature on a signed purchase order--including the Supt. I had the full support of the Supt. as well as the Board of Education to enforce it.

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