Local Politics

Budget math doesn't add up for schools

Posted July 13, 2009
Updated July 21, 2009

— As House and Senate negotiators continue to haggle over a new state budget, area educators are planning for the new school year – some have already started class – not knowing how much state funding to expect.

"We probably started this year with five or six fewer teachers than we would have," said Parry Graham, principal of Lufkin Road Middle School, a year-round school that started its new year last week.

Education Schools guess at state funding as classes start

"We had to act. We knew kids were going to be showing up on July 7, and we had to have teachers in the classes waiting for them," Graham said, noting it's easier to begin short-handed and expand later if funding allows than to cut back after the school year has started.

Two-thirds of the funding for the Wake County Public School System comes from the state, and 80 percent of its costs are in people. Across the school district, 330 teaching assistants will be eliminated and as many as 800 teachers might not be brought back under current budget scenarios.

Graham said many classes are larger than usual at Lufkin Road Middle, and resources are stretched thin.

"It means, for me, as a principal, I have to spend more time doing things like monitoring lunches as opposed to focusing on some of the big picture issues I might normally be able to do," he said.

One of the sticking points in the budget talks has been how to spend the extra revenue that will be generated by proposed tax increases and new taxes. The Senate wants to spend more of it on education, while the House wants more spent on human services programs and public safety.

Gov. Beverly Perdue asked lawmakers to agree on a tax package to avoid deep cuts to education that are now impacting life at Lufkin Road Middle and other schools.

"Schools can't start effectively," Perdue said. "Year-round (schools) started last week in Raleigh, and people still don't know how many teachers are going to be in the classroom. That's fundamentally wrong."

Perdue said Monday that she spent much of the weekend talking by phone with key lawmakers and expects a budget completed soon.

The continuing resolution lawmakers adopted two weeks ago to keep state government running without a budget expires on Wednesday. They are in the process of crafting another continuing resolution.


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  • Think_About_This Jul 14, 2009

    I can not possibly express how outraged I am as a parent of two children in a year-round school. Not only were we forced 2 school years ago to go year-round - we are now forced to start a school year with inadequate resources. My son in a kindergarten class with 29 students - this is just outragous. My 4th grader has 27 students - ridiculous.

    I am in no way blaming the principals or teachers - they are operating with what resources they have. I do, however, blame the NC legislators for losing sight of what is important -OUR CHILDREN'S EDUCATION. Stop playing politics and worrying about your own pet projects & personal agendas!

  • Unemployed Concerned Parent Jul 14, 2009

    It's not about how many teachers in a class. It's about how many children their are. The first thing I learned as a Teacher Assistant is that the class size makes a huge difference. When two or three kids were absent, we could provide much more individual attention. Now children are spending their all important first days of school in overcrowded classrooms with very few supplies.

    It's time to sacrifice a few weekends and get this budget done right. I can guarantee teachers worked over the weekend to figure out how to deal with understaffed schools. Legislators owe our children at least as much.

  • ezLikeSundayMorning Jul 14, 2009

    So if they can't agree on how to spend the increased taxes... then don't raise them!

  • larieke Jul 13, 2009

    "Schools can't start effectively," Perdue said. "Year-round (schools) started last week in Raleigh, and people still don't know how many teachers are going to be in the classroom. That's fundamentally wrong."

    How many teachers in the classroom? I thought there was supposed to be just ONE!

  • OhBella Jul 13, 2009

    Yes...29-30 kindergarten students in a class is horrible! This is crazy. If lawmakers in CA can work over the weekend on a budget, so can the folks in NC!

  • whatelseisnew Jul 13, 2009

    Tax and spend tax and spend la di da di da. Oops we need more money. Oops hmm maybe we can not raise taxes again la di da di da, hey how about we use those IOU thingies like those brilliant folks in California. La di da di da tax and spend tax and spend. la di da di da

  • jetset Jul 13, 2009

    Has anyone heard if there are 2 people trying to run the public school system....one is June Atkinson, who was elected by the people and the other, well, he was given the job by our wonderful Bevvy. :>( Maybe they could do the math and figure out it only takes ONE person. Could save a little here I would think.