Wake school board considering sports, bus, parking fees
Posted December 8, 2010
Raleigh, N.C. — In an effort to ease tight budgets, Wake County school board members said Wednesday that they will consider charging fees for playing sports, riding the bus, leaving campus to get lunch and increasing parking fees for students.
Any fees charged would be based upon families' ability to pay, as is done with Free and Reduced Lunches.
School board members are also encouraging the public to submit ideas. The school system will set up an online suggestion box on Thursday.
"How bad is it? It's bad," said chief financial officer David Neter, who noted that state funding to Wake County schools could be cut up to $70 million.
School leaders said they think they can raise as much as $1.7 million in a year by charging bus fees. The school system currently makes about $1 million a year in parking fees, but they are considering increasing those fees.
"That calls for some extraordinary measures, and I know that won't be popular," said school board member Keith Sutton. "This budget is going to hurt."
If money isn't found somewhere, classrooms could be in trouble. State education leaders say it could lead to hundreds of teacher layoffs, larger class sizes and cuts to teacher assistants and help for at-risk and special needs students.
Since student numbers are growing, the school system could get a larger piece of the state funding pie, which means teachers might not be laid off, but class sizes would go up.
"We haven't raised fees arbitrarily or because we could not think of anything else," said school board member Chris Malone.
Tens of millions in federal stimulus money also runs out next year, and school leaders are working on estimates. Gov. Bev Perdue still has to lay out a budget and state legislators will take a look, too.