Education

Wake school board to vote on budget, job cuts

Posted August 10, 2010

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— The economy continues to have a negative impact on the Wake County Public School System. School board members are meeting Tuesday to vote on the 2010-11 budget, which could include denying raises and cutting jobs.

Wake County Board of Education Committee of the Whole meeting 8/10: Committee of the Whole meeting

The board approved a $1.4 billion operating and capital preliminary budget in April and anticipated most cuts in state support then. That included 68 layoffs, cutting 57 vacant jobs from the organizational chart and a hiring freeze. Now, it is revisiting the budget after county and state funding has been decided.

Last week, the board told Interim Superintendent Donna Hargens to look at cutting more central administration jobs and restoring some to the Project Enlightenment preschool program.

Finance director David Neter told the board that the system will have to lay off six non-certified positions employees in the district's Transportation Department because of state-mandated funding cuts of about $1.2 million.

Neter said the cut in state funding for transportation will not affect buses on the roads, which the board already had decided to increase to accommodate the growing student population. 

One area where the budget will rise is for security at board meetings. Raleigh police, some hired to beef up security, arrested 19 protesters at the board's July 20 meeting. At least a few Raleigh officers have been present at board meetings for the past few months.

"We have had some increased costs for security at board meetings," security chief Russ Smith told the board, though he added that Raleigh police have not asked the school system to cover a lot of its expenses. Smith asked for about $60,000 more than the board budgeted for contracted security services last year.

The board gave Hargens no dollar target for cuts, but board members who combed through central office positions during the budget work session focused on several:

  • an assistant superintendent position that will become vacant with a retirement next month
  • a government liaison who keeps tabs on state agency decisions and the Legislature
  • a real estate services job in Planning and Construction
  • program evaluator positions the system's Evaluation and Research Department.

Neter had good news for the board in one area, saying that switching from Sprint/Nextel to another provider for about 1,500 district-supplied cell phones will reduce costs to about $32,600 this fiscal year from $211,000 in 2009-10.

Project Enlightenment had planned to have nine fewer employees this year, Marvin Connelly, assistant superintendent for student support services, said. The board told Hargens to try to restore about half of the cuts.

The school system describes Project Enlightenment as "an early childhood education and early intervention program for children birth through kindergarten age, their parents and teachers."

The board also is scheduled to take a second and final vote on a policy change that will cut its schedule to one work session and one voting meeting per month and will abolish all standing committees – Finance, Facilities, Student Achievement, Human Resources.

Task-specific committees such as Student Assignment, which is trying to devise a plan to implement the system's new community based policy, and Superintendent Search will remain until their jobs are done.

Opponents of changing the meeting schedule argued before the first approval last month that the public will lose half the time it had to address the board each month. Public comments are during voting meetings.

Supporters said then that they could consider extending the comment time at a single monthly meeting.

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  • TWENTYTWO Aug 10, 2010

    Nice

  • mamabearprotectinghercub Aug 10, 2010

    MakoII that is true, they will try to get unemployment & I see that it will cost the tax payers more.

  • mamabearprotectinghercub Aug 10, 2010

    It is like a business, & it is about the children.

  • MakoII Aug 10, 2010

    What North Carolina doesn't understand is that by not keeping their employees on par with cost of living adjustments, these workers might as well be unemployed.

    Because, like the unemployed, they will be timid to consume!

    And lack of spending/consuming will keep the cycle of low taxes.

    I fully expect the State to get more in taxes up to next July way more than it did last years budget. Married with more expected money from Washington, NONE of this money will actually go into cost of living adjustments.

    So you have 200,000 workers in NC that tighten the belt. Do the math, LOCAL inflation is higher than National inflation.

    I read that State Employees have been underpaid with respect to inflation 18% in the last 20 years. Meaning their buying power went down by that much. I read that 2 years ago. That figure is probably a 22-25% salary loss in 20 years time! That's why I think you're seeing "whining".

  • mrseismic Aug 10, 2010

    Not_so_dumb -- in my rush to type out my comment, I wasn't able to explain what I meant about education not being like a business. You are correct -- there are certainly business aspects to education -- balancing budgets, getting the best costs for services, etc. What I was saying, and you expressed, was that there are too many non-education people who try to run anything that applies to the classroom / student services like it's a business. The learning environment is not a business and you cannot apply cost benefit analysis to teaching/learning. Ie, the 'product' of our schools is the children, but you cannot say apply normal business metrics to accurately measure how successful teachers are / how effective they are at their job. For MOST businesses, the end-product is not a person -- it's a concept or inanimate product. Fundamentally not the same thing as education. But I completely agree with what you are saying.

  • Plenty Coups Aug 10, 2010

    Expected pay raises for private sector link:
    http://news.thomasnet.com/IMT/archives/2010/08/weekly-industry-crib-sheet-080910-most-employers-expect-to-give-pay-raises-in-2011-mercer-report.html

  • Plenty Coups Aug 10, 2010

    miketroll-You're another teacher basher, huh? Teachers have sucked it up the last two years so that their pay went down last year and this year they didn't get a cost of living increase even. They also didn't get their promised test bonuses for scools that made high growth on the End of Year Tests. They did get increased health care cost in an industry that makes about 10-15K less than a comparable profession that requires a degree. Lastly, corporations are still giving their bonuses and most corp. also gave some type of raise this year. More than 98% of mid to large size employers plan to give raises next year also.

  • mamabearprotectinghercub Aug 10, 2010

    We sure are tax payers, that is what I was thinking. I agree with you Not_So_Dumb. I go along with that, it is wrong for the teachers & kids to suffer.

  • mamabearprotectinghercub Aug 10, 2010

    You have parents that are working as hard as they can. What has donating have to do with protecting our children's education. It is wrong to take from a child. I don't want to see no teachers go. I thank God for them. They do work hard for what they do. I blame the Government for these problems. Now it would be a good idea to help our teachers I believe in it. But there are families out there that are living in there cars even with there own kids, they are some there houses where taking, there are people that can't even pay there bills & it is hard. I really believe that the board wasted money, & not only did the board.

  • Not_So_Dumb Aug 10, 2010

    Superman - "Where are all the concerned parents? Each parent donate 100.00 to their child's teacher and they be able to purchase supplies they need? Do something beside lip service."

    Doing that! I donate stuff all the time. But the fact is that the funds are available when the Superintendent wants to have an online video blog of his own. The funds were there for board members to fly to Nevada a couple of years ago. The funds are there to pay double market value when a political supporter owns land. The question is priorities.

    "I am sure there would have been parents who would have been happy to donate a chair to their childs classroom had they been aware of the need."

    You don't get it, do you? Those parents (and all Wake taxpayers) have paid for chairs already, but the funds and resources are being mismanaged by the administration that is supposed to be around to support the schools. People are getting sick of giving, and it is not the teachers fault, but they suffer.

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