Education

Budget situation worsens for Wake school system

Posted April 6, 2010

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— The Wake County Public School System's chief business officer says the school system is facing an additional $20 million in budget cuts, on top of other money problems.

David Neter told school board members during a budget work session Tuesday that the state Department of Public Instruction, at the request of the governor, is expected to reduce state funding for all school systems by 3 percent for the 2010-11 school year.

More budget woes for Wake schools More budget woes for Wake schools

It's still unclear what that could mean for Wake schools.

"That's my no-good news, but it's what you need to know about," he said. "It will be significant. It will directly impact central services. It will impact the schools."

It could still get worse, Neter added.

The state might have misjudged its revenue projections, he said, and schools could eventually be asked to cut their budgets by 5 percent.

The school system is also expecting a $5 million shortfall in revenue for the current year. Neter said there is a spending freeze on non-essential expenses to help make up for that.

Prior to Tuesday's meeting, the school system was already looking at a $20 million shortfall to the $1.2 billion proposed operating budget, which is due to the Wake County Board of Commissioners by May 1.

The school board and district administrators are considering laying off about 70 staff in central services and eliminating 30 to 35 vacant positions to save about $6.64 million. Those cuts would affect instructional services, communications, chief of staff, auxiliary services and administrative services.

"This is a terrible time to be cutting jobs," board member Anne McLaurin said, but acknowledged the lack of money to pay people.

School staff is expected to give details about the layoffs to board members at the next school board meeting on April 20.

In addition, the school system is looking to raise the prices of school meals and is working on a plan to amend the bell schedules for next year to help close the gap.

"It's a drop in the hat," board Chairman Ron Margiotta said, comparing it to the bigger budget picture.

Tuesday evening, the board approved a request by school system staff to raise breakfasts at elementary schools from 80 cents to $1 and from $1 to $1.25 at middle and high schools. Lunch prices would also go up from $1.75 to $2 at elementary schools and $2 to $2.25 at middle and high schools. Reduced breakfast prices would be 30 cents; lunch prices would be 40 cents.

"We've been very frugal," nutrition director Marilyn Moody told the board earlier in the day.

In regard to bell schedules, the board is looking at ways to save money on purchasing buses and hiring drivers to accommodate the anticipated 2,000 additional bus-riders next year.

The school system runs buses at different times to allow buses to run up to three routes in both the mornings and afternoons, cutting down on the number of buses and drivers needed.

Under a plan rejected at last month's board meeting, the school system could have saved about $2.5 million by having some elementary schools start 25 minutes later.

Concerns about how that would affect student performance and students with after-school activities prompted board members to direct school staff to find other alternatives.

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  • josephlawrence43 Apr 6, 2010

    Education is the sacred cow of NC politics. School systems receive plenty of money ( local, state and federal)--but they (the school systems) are so top heavy in "administration" that they suck up a significant amount of money that could easily be better used in the classrooms. I've been a classroom teacher for over 20 years--will somebody please explain to me what it is that a "Director of Accountability" does? How about a "Director of Testing"? Depending on the school and its schedule, testing is either a once a year event, or a twice a year event=-so what does this person do the rest of the year--aside from trying to look busy and justify their salary?

  • Kristen168 Apr 6, 2010

    Lottery money or NOT, where it goes nobody knows. That's what the school board, headed up by Margiotta and Tedesco are there for.

  • APXmom Apr 6, 2010

    Let's all sing together--"North Carolina Education Lot-tery!" Where IS this money going?

  • NoFreakinWay Apr 6, 2010

    "Curious how much money actually goes to school system from it compaired to lottery staff saleries and expenses."

    the amount of ignorance on this issue is beyond amazing. 5-7 million is how much Wake gets IF lottery tickets sale as Tom Sheehan predicts. And that's per year.

    work on your spelling dude!

  • knowyourrole Apr 6, 2010

    hereandnow99:

    knowyourrole, you may want to know-your-terms-of-service and then you'd be able to post your "education reform". :-)

    I do know the terms of service......it's the old political correctness. If you agree with the media, you're fine. If not, you have no right to speak.

  • demo7691 Apr 6, 2010

    Well isnt it funny how ole Bev and Mike Easley pushed this Lottery to aide education. Curious how much money actually goes to school system from it compaired to lottery staff saleries and expenses.

  • The Fox Apr 6, 2010

    It's easy cut the fat & lots of administration positions out of the budget. The administator to teacher ratio is way out of wack. Instead WCPPS (administrators) will use scare tactics such as letting teachers go, or how the kiddies will suffer etc.

  • mystica131 Apr 6, 2010

    I have a sincere question - I am not trying to be sarcastic. I have always wondered why none of the new elementary schools in the Apex/Cary area are more than one story. I know they may be cheaper to build, but they are full before they even open.

  • NoFreakinWay Apr 6, 2010

    "but apparently WRAL will not post it........"

    nooooooooooooooooooo, they don't censor do they?

  • Methuselah Apr 6, 2010

    @Garnerwolf1: "Again. They are not busing that many kids for the diversity program."

    I said nothing about busing for diversity -- I said busing, period. That means sending kids to a school other than their local one, for any reason.

    "Therefore the costs are not all that great. Based on what I can find, only 3% of students are bussed for this purpose."

    3% of the Wake County school population is over 4,000 students. That's a lot of bus trips, twice a day.

    And you're missing the point. Money saved by not busing kids across the county can be spent on other things: teachers, supplies, facilities, etc.

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