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County Boosts Wake School Budget by $6 Million

Posted June 18, 2007

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— In a 4-3 vote Monday, the Wake County Board of Commissioners approved a tax increase that will give the county school system $6 million more for its 2007-2008 budget than the county manager had recommended, but $5 million less than school officials had said they needed.

The result, commissioners said, will be an increase of 0.8 cents in the county property tax rate, bringing it to 67.8 cents per $100 of assessed value. An increase of 3.6 cents was already coming.

The Wake County Public Schools System had sought $305 million, while County Manager David Cooke had suggested giving the school system $294 million. The commissioners voted for $300 million.

Commissioners Lindy Brown, Joe Bryan, Betty Lou Ward and Harold Webb voted for the $300 million. Chairman Tony Gurley and commissioners Paul Coble and Kenn Gardner voted against it.

The vote was a detour from the commissioners' usual party-line division.

Republican Joe Bryan voted with the commission's three Democrats to add the $6 million.

"I voted how I felt was the right thing to do," Bryan said.

The sole speaker during the public comment period, Marguerite Creek, took the school board to task. She asked the commissioners "to demand accountability. They have a blatant disregard for the law."

Gurley agreed.

"If we're going to be expected to provide funding for the school system, we need to have more control over how that money is spent," the chairman said.

One the other side, schools supporter Virginia Parker said after the vote, "I really do think it's a great gesture on behalf of the county commissioners to give the extra six million."

Technically, the commissioners voted on a motion that Brown made for the tax increase, not for the school allocation itself. County budget technicians expect the 0.8-cent increase to generate $6.3 million, and commissioners said they would put the added $300,000 into savings while allotting the $6 million to the schools.

Commissioners had said previously that they did not want to raise taxes to pay for schools.

Debt service on the bond issue already was going to increase the taxes on a $200,000 home by $72 even if the district's operating budget had stayed the same as the current year. The money added Monday will make that increase $88.

"We have increased property taxes 10 percent in the last two years. That is a significant increase, and I think we're getting close to reaching the limit that taxpayers are willing to pay," Gurley said last month.

Cooke had said the county could provide the $294 million to the district in the coming year without raising taxes.

The Board of Education had said that about $16.5 million of the funding increase it asked from the current year was to cover costs associated with growth.

"We have worked very hard to give them a bare-bones budget, and the increase is what we need," school board Chairwoman Patti Head said when the two boards last discussed the budget.

The school board may begin as early as Tuesday to decide what it will do now that it knows how much county funding it will get.

47 Comments

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  • enderby Jun 20, 2007

    Remember this - whether or not you agree with yr conversion, the board said part of the last bond was to pay for yr conversion. They did not give the money to the BOE (where is it?). Whatever side of yr you are on, you have to agree it was misleading and dishonest to do this. Do we really believe this increase is for schools and cannot be spent on the whims of the commissioners? These little Kings and Queens need to be ousted.

  • Tidbit Jun 20, 2007

    I can, I just have to find it again. But, let's say you are correct and 25... what you have said in your statements is that you are ok with where we are and that at least we are half as good as others and we shouldn't be striving to be better.

    "If" the state has moved into 25th or whatever, it's taking into account test scores. Of which, that's all they are doing now is teaching the test to make sure the test scores go up.

    ALSO - remember - the N&O put out an article not to long ago that exposed Wake Counties "special" way of determining how well their schools are doing by leaving out most of the lower scores that would bring them down....

  • Pappy O Daniel Jun 19, 2007

    "if the state is considered one of the worst states for educaction (I believe we were somewhere in the low 30s/ 40s out of all the states)"

    Tidbit - I cannot find any numbers that place the state below 25. Can you provide links to this material?

  • Tidbit Jun 19, 2007

    Wake Country being in the top 3% is a worthless statistic if the state is considered one of the worst states for educaction (I believe we were somewhere in the low 30s/ 40s out of all the states). What you are saying then is that we should be proud that our children are at least top in the state because it's Wake County - but ignore that even the top in the state is still poor compared to the rest of the country.. >.< Sorry, I can't be proud of that. Especially when my straigh A student/ daughter tells me about things they don't teach her that we end up having to teach her at home.

  • Pappy O Daniel Jun 19, 2007

    Tidbit - I appreciate some of your concerns, and even agree with some of them (especially the solutions related to funding), but saying that the county has too many administrators just isn't true. Also, there are also many many more teachers than administrators - so again, that just isn't true (look at the numbers). The county (as far as I can tell), gets good results. Look at the graduation rates, and test scores, they are high on a national average. These things matterto the future of the county's children. I agree people should not teach to the test, but that is another subject. For the moment, all I am saying is it is wrong to point a finger at the school system for the tax increase. The cause is elsewhere.

  • Tidbit Jun 19, 2007

    Things to do to stop overtaxing AND improve education:

    1) Stop growth temporarily till infastructure can catch up
    2) Increase impact fees so current residents don't feel/ pay the brunt
    3) Reduce Administration/ administrative costs
    4) Centralize a budget. 1 budget for Wake County. A pool of funds each school has access to. Written requests with justifications can be submitted and approved/ not approved by the central administrators of the budget funds.
    4) Those **unable to speak/ understand english should not be in the same class with students who do. (this does not mean partial) This has (FACT) slowed down class and "dumbed down" what the students learn. It won't cost much (and save money in the long run) to set those student aside in their own special class that "integrates" them.

  • Tidbit Jun 19, 2007

    Pappy O Daniel - I have worked for Wake County School Adinistration. It is very bloated. There are more "Adminitstrative" employees almost then there are teachers. It's COMPLETELY Unnecessary. It's just like government... gets bigger and bigger and that is a fact. The salaries of most of the Wake County Administration are WAY Above what a "civil servant" should be. More than the teachers, I promise you that. Money is wasted on oversized budgets that get spent recklessly by schools. FACT. 3 years ago, Sanderson High School had extra money in their budget.. so some of the teachers got new lap tops... Unnecessary expense.

    YES growth affects this above and beyond any of the other problems. Wake county may be 3rd in the state, but what good does that do when NC Eduction as a whole is in the lower % of the Nation??? That makes Wake Co statistic MEANINGLESS. Having a daughter in high school... they aren't teaching... just teaching tests.

  • Pappy O Daniel Jun 19, 2007

    Never really paid attention to this section, but it is full of partisans who are clueless what they are talking about. Especially the anti-education, anti-tax folks ranting. They are making themselves lookfoolish to anyone who knows about how county funding works. The school system here is incredibly good - ranking in the top three in the state in nearly every performance stat. There is no bloated administration, that is ignorance or a lie - check the numbers. The problems with the system are the following: growth, growth, and growth. Nothing else. Real estate developers control most of the county political structure, Wake County will not raise the impact fees to make the growth pay for itself. As a result, if you live here you are PAYING to have the new people move here (via tax increases like the one that just happened). It isn't the schools. If you want to stop the tax increases, then make the growth pay for itself.

  • THC Jun 19, 2007

    I bet the people complaining about the tax hike also don't want year-round schools. You can't have it both ways. I do think the tax increase is wrong, but the school board can only do with what it is given by the county. We need year-round schools, a stop on growth for a while, impact fees after that, and a government that knows how to spend money efficiently.

  • djofraleigh Jun 19, 2007

    I get another tax hike, and get back nothing. There is no end in sight. I don't profit by the growth in population, do you? The realtors, the bankers and the builders do. It takes me longer to get to work. Scenic country sides are disappearing, strip malls are everywhere. IS that progress? New homes are paying $88 when they should be paying $880 for impact fees. No every new home built costs ME money, just as it just did. A fourth of our students are in mobile units. The commissioners could stop growth until infrastructure is build. They don't.

    With the crooked mess going on at the state level, and this incompetence at the local level, I, a democrat, will vote republican locally, with a clothes pin on my nose, as a protest, as if anyone will care. STOP BUILDING PERMITS, STOP WATER AND SEWER ADDITIONS.

    The lack of water is going to dry up the growth. Who can we impeach, throw out of office at that point? We are on permanent water restriction now.

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