Education

Wake schools' good budget news: no new bad news

Posted April 28, 2010
Updated April 29, 2010

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— The good news for the Wake County schools Wednesday was that the bad news about next year’s budget was not any worse than expected.

The school board’s Finance Committee heard from district finance officials who have been analyzing the prospects for the system’s 2010-11 budget in light of previous and recent reductions in state support as Gov. Bev Perdue tries to balance a budget that faces revenue shortfalls.

David Neter, the district’s chief business officer, said new cuts in Perdue’s budget amount to $19.7 million – just about the $20 million the district had expected after Perdue announced all state agencies would have to make new cuts, including the Department of Public Instruction.

What is not known yet, however, is how the school system will cut that money. Board members Kevin Hill and Finance chair Keith Sutton both said that cuts are bound to affect classrooms.

“There are not any real surprises,” Neter told the committee.

The new reductions include $13.2 million in what are called discretionary reductions, meaning the school board can decide what to eliminate. About another $6.5 million comes in mandated areas, including less state funding for step increases in salary for teachers, support for transportation and changes in the amount the state pays toward retirement.

The school board last week passed a $1.4 billion budget proposal that included $20 million less in state funding that already was known. That budget eliminated 68 filled and 57 vacant positions in the schools’ Central Services department.

The proposed budget counts on continued county funding at its current level, and the board stressed to county commissioners at a joint meeting that level funding is essential. The schools will not know until probably mid May, however, how they have fared in the overall county budgeting process. The county is looking at reduced revenues as well.

The Finance Committee also heard a report on what a committee of board and community members had concluded in 2003 about ideas to raise money from outside sources, such as naming rights for school facilities. Many ideas were rejected then because they could put the school system in competition with fund-raising efforts by PTAs, booster clubs and other school-based groups, and those issues persist.

“Athletics and band parents and boosters you don’t mess with,” said Hill, a former principal.

Cost-cutting measures that have been floated to deal with the newest cuts in state funding include four-day school weeks, selling naming rights to athletic fields, pay cuts, larger class sizes and fewer school supplies.

The committee did not address any of those ideas Wednesday.

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  • jgrissom1943 May 7, 2010

    Where is all of the money from NCEL? Don't mess with the education budget!!!!

  • superman Apr 29, 2010

    The majority of teachers are paid by the state and not by the county. Dont think they can cut the state paid teachers and principals. When Washington sees their new "neighborhood school" plan that may lose millions in federal aid or have the funds withheld pending lawsuits that are sure to come soon. Only lived in this subdivision for 30 years and we have never had anyone but white people. You can call the new approach anything you like but it is "segregation".

  • andela Apr 29, 2010

    So how much money would be saved on gas and bus maintenance if this archaic bussing program is stopped in favor of more community based schools?

  • colliedave Apr 29, 2010

    If we continue to not put education of our children first then we will pay the price when they are not educated and they are the ones taking care of us and running this country. We should really look at what we are doing and make some changes for the good. We need to put education FIRST. kcotney

    The Department of Education has existed for almost 35 years and we have a dumbed-down population that seems totaly lacking in critical thinking skills. At both the Federal and State levels the purpose of education is lost in the administration overhead. They will do anything to maintain their power.

  • Garnerwolf1 Apr 29, 2010

    Sorry - the problem with this approach is you're going to save (for example) $1 Million by cutting Admin salaries, but it costs $20 Million (for example) to give teachers a 1.5% raise. Yes, it'll save a few bucks, but it's not going to pay for anything. Proverbial bandaid on a gunshot wound.

  • Garnerwolf1 Apr 29, 2010

    The problem with this approach is you are going to save (for example) $1million

  • kcotney Apr 29, 2010

    So we should encourage bad decisions by the school board by paying them more while you cut the pay of the teachers teaching your children and expect them to improve test scores with more kids in each class and LESS classroom supplies. I think that this sounds completely backwards. The board doesn't feel these cuts that same way that the classroom teachers and school feel these cuts. The didn't have a paycut last year and another one to teachers wouldn't effect them either. If we continue to not put education of our children first then we will pay the price when they are not educated and they are the ones taking care of us and running this country. We should really look at what we are doing and make some changes for the good. We need to put education FIRST.

  • NoFreakinWay Apr 29, 2010

    actually we need to be paying the school board much more than they currently get. if you want real results that needs to be your only job and 17K don't cut it. as for cutting pay for upper mangmnt, go for it!

  • AWakeMom Apr 29, 2010

    **sigh** To add anything more would beating a dead horse.

  • ratherbnnc Apr 29, 2010

    Let's lead by example and begin by cutting the pay for School Board Members and upper management in the school system.