Education

Wake school board reluctantly approves $1.25 billion budget

Posted May 1, 2012
Updated May 2, 2012

Wake County Public School System

— The Wake County Board of Education voted Tuesday to approve a $1.25 billion spending plan for the upcoming school year, despite disagreement about how the district should make up for budget cuts of nearly $38 million.

The vote was 6 to 3, with several board members saying their "yes" vote was reluctant but necessary, because state law requires the board to have a budget in place by May 15. 

Deborah Prickett, Debra Goldman and John Tedesco voted against it.

Superintendent Tony Tata's proposed $1.25 billion budget cuts $23 million, asks Wake County for a 2.8 percent increase of $8.8 million and taps $28 million of the system's nearly $34 million reserve to pay for recurring expenses. Full video: May 1 school board meeting

Some school board members said they would prefer to exhaust the system's reserve, or "rainy day fund" – a move Wake schools' chief business officer, David Neter, has said would be irresponsible.

"We need to spend this money before we ask (county commissioners) for more," said board member Debra Goldman.

School district officials said that $28 million is the equivalent to funding nearly 500 teacher positions. The budget proposal doesn't cut staff positions, but any additional significant loss of funding would likely require job cuts, they said.

The proposed budget also gives a 1 percent raise to teachers and a $500 one-time bonus to other school system staff. It delays opening one new school for a year and includes $4.8 million in savings from transportation spending by adjusting school start and end times. As well, it covers adding 3,500 new students next year.

But it also makes deep cuts to funding for classroom supplies and school cleaning. 

Board Chair Kevin Hill said the cuts make it difficult to run a "world-class" school system.

"I find it hard to support this budget," he said. "The funding cuts have affected the classroom."

Still, he voted to approve it. David Neter Wake school board sends budget to county

The Wake County commissioners will now review the school system's budget as it works to adopt a final county budget by June 18. The school board then has until June 30 to make adjustments based on whether commissioners agree to provide the full $8.8 million requested in the schools budget.

Commissioners have not committed to approving the district's funding request.

Earlier Tuesday, board members also discussed a number of topics regarding the school system's new student assignment plan, including a survey that parents will receive later this month about how the choice-selection process went.

Final student assignments were made public online last week, and parents have two weeks from May 15 to appeal the decisions once official letters are sent.

Parents listed their top preferred schools for their children, and assignment was made using those choices, proximity to the school, where siblings attend, school capacity and other factors.

Wake schools officials said most parents got the schools they wanted, but some parents said the assignment plan acted like a lottery.

Board members also discussed provisions for transportation for nearly 550 students who opted to stay in their current school but their school was not among a school they could choose in the choice selection process.

Board member Jim Martin said the district needs to find a way to provide transportation to all students. School staff said further research and working models might help a majority of the students in need of busing.

Board member John Tedesco, however, wants to wait to see how many parents the school system can help before making a promise.

42 Comments

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  • superman May 3, 3:13 p.m.

    The school should not accept any new students for the next five years. No new schools for the next 5 years. Give them time to work out this new plan. You cant do much planning with new students being assigned or new schools being built. No more changes please.

  • ncteacher13 May 2, 6:02 p.m.

    So, what I have read on wake county website is that the teachers are getting a 1% raise of their supplementary pay, not their entire salary as this article leads you to believe. According to my paystub, I get $466 of local supplementary pay a month. Multiply that by 10 (10 month employee) and I make $4660 from local supplements. One percent of $4660 is $46.60.

    Before the pay freeze, almost 3 years ago, teachers (on average) made about $1000 more every year. Not counting our '1% raise' next year, we will have not received raises for the last four years. That means, on average, Wake county/NC has withheld $10,000 for every teacher that has worked there during those four years. (1st yr - $1000 + 2nd - $2000 + 3rd - $3000 + 4th - $4000 = $10,000). So, instead of my $10,000 and a readjustment of the payscale, they are giving me $46.60. Yippee!!!!

  • westernwake1 May 2, 5:50 p.m.

    "Hm, wonder how they justified the massive extra transportation costs for bussing kids to whatever school they want to attend? The new plan is ridiculously wasteful of our taxpayer dollars." - edith wharton

    The new school choice assignment plan allows Wake County to save over $10 million dollars each year in transportation costs. By creating regional assignment districts of schools, the average route is reduced in distance and time. This also enables 3 bus routes to be run each morning & afternoon by each bus. This new choice plan not only allows Wake to save on gas but is allowing the district to sell over 100 buses that are no longer needed.

    The average number of schools a neighborhood is bussed to is reduced under the choice plan. Under the old diversity plan children in my neighborhood were bussed to 8 different middle schools, under the choice plan this is reduced to 5.

  • bombayrunner May 2, 4:16 p.m.

    no one will complain, march, interrupt, ... they're democrats.

  • edith wharton May 2, 4:16 p.m.

    Hm, wonder how they justified the massive extra transportation costs for bussing kids to whatever school they want to attend? The new plan is ridiculously wasteful of our taxpayer dollars.

  • westernwake1 May 2, 4:01 p.m.

    "2) Constant reassignments were a real issue that the 2008 & earlier board did not address. Reassignments were driven by the huge increase of students and where new schools were built. The board did a bad job of explaining that." - babbleon

    What you are not stating is that the old Democratic school board stated very directly in a public meeting that the constant re-assignments were due to the diversity policy and not growth. Growth can be handled by assigning new neighborhoods to new schools permanently, and not switching the students to a different school every year.

    My children were forced to switch school nearly every year from K-12 under the diversity policy upheld by the old board in Wake. The diversity policy did NOT enhance or add value to education in any manner. Studies funded by Wake showed the policy did not improve outcomes.

    It was long overdue to eliminate Wake County's failed diversity policy.

  • injameswetrust2003 May 2, 3:04 p.m.

    "Still, he voted to approve it."

    I believe this is Mr. Hill's m.o. throughout his term as a board member.

  • babbleon May 2, 2:38 p.m.

    There was never a chance for the community based schools to come into play. What I find amusing is apparently lots of people forgot that there was zero guarantee of any child going to the nearest school under the old system. whatelseisnew

    Ok, let's get some facts straight:

    1) Under the 2008 (pre-Tedesco) board, > 85% of the assigned students went to a school w/in 5 miles of home; 98% went to a school within 10 miles. Bussing was never a real issue - it was made up by Art Pope & his cronies to play on racial fears.

    2) Constant reassignments were a real issue that the 2008 & earlier board did not address. Reassignments were driven by the huge increase of students and where new schools were built. The board did a bad job of explaining that.

    3) If we assign students to the closest school, many schools would be 100% or more OVER capacity, while others would be under 75% capacity.

    Keep these things in mind when you think about Wake Co schools, the budget and the new plan.

  • Jim Britt May 2, 2:19 p.m.

    If the name was changed from Wake County Public Schools to Wake County Armed Services, they would throw money at it.

  • me2you May 2, 2:18 p.m.

    I never knew sending your child to a public school could be so complicated.

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