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Is Budget Standoff Brewing in Wake County?

Posted March 5, 2008
Updated March 6, 2008

Wake County Public School System
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— Wake County School Superintendent Del Burns wants another $35 million for the 2008-09 operating budget. The school system calls it adequate funding, but some county commissioners say it is too much.

“Anytime you ask for money, and you have a banker who does not believe in raising taxes or questions whether that is adequate, there may be a little contention,” Board of Education Chairwoman Rosa Gill said. “But I think if we can prove to them (county commissioners) that we need it, and that we are good stewards of the money, then we should receive it."

Commissioner Tony Gurley said the increase of nearly 12 percent from the county's contribution to the current budget is out of line with history.

“That's a little higher than in the past. I think over the last four of five years, we've averaged about a 9.5 to 10 percent increase in the school budget,” he said.

Gurley also noted that $6.5 million the school system received in the current year's budget should be returned. When the 2007-08 budget was prepared, the school system overestimated by 2,000 students and overstated the county's share of state-mandated teacher pay increases, he said.

“I think the taxpayers of Wake County deserve an accounting of the money. If the money is spent wisely, they've got $300 million. What's $6.5 million?” Gurley asked.

Gurley said he asked for the money back four months ago, but has yet to get a response. If nothing else, there should have been a "thank you," he said.

“How difficult would it be to say 'thank you' to the taxpayers of Wake County for giving you $6.5 million for students that didn't show up?" Gurley said. “I think it would go a long way toward reducing the contention between the two groups."

The school board will hold public hearings on the budget request before a final version is sent to county commissioners.

The additional $35 million would bring the county's part of the schools' operating budget to $335.7 million for 2008-09, which begins July 1.

The state supplies 61 percent of the school district's operating costs, the county 33 percent and the federal government 6 percent. That puts the total budget for the next year at about $1.02 billion.

The budget for the coming fiscal year would allocate $140 more in per-pupil spending, which Burns said was approximately a 6 percent boost.

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  • Fun Mar 7, 2008

    Get it down to simple accountable arthmetic--an exact itemized list showing how much does it cost for each child. Then offer the parent a voucher--they can either spend that voucher on a Wake County school or have it redeemed at an accredited school of the parents choice---enduce competition!!!

  • superman Mar 6, 2008

    Teachers may elect to be paid their salary over 10 months or spread it over 12 months. Principals work and are paid for 12 months. The problem we are having now with the shortage of buildings is due because voters and the county commissioners have not understood the needs. Voters did not approve the bond issue a couple years ago and the county commissioners continue to try to run the schools as well as a couple mayors. It is not surprising that the schools are in such a terrible mess and it will continue for years to come until building construction catches up with population explosion and student enrollment.

  • common_sense_plz Mar 6, 2008

    so they are saying that they are spending aobut $76,000 per student per year. I don't see it, do ya'll see it. I think they are looking to increase the size of their own pockets. I think that the county, state, federal government needs to audit our school board.

  • HopingForABetterWorld Mar 6, 2008

    And WCNC, I sure hope you don't have kids being serviced by these teachers since you obviously have NO respect for them or the profession.

  • HopingForABetterWorld Mar 6, 2008

    WCNC, you are completely CLUELESS to how teaching works. Glad your relative makes the schedule work...many things we can say about that but since we don't know the person we won't. I welcome you to come ANY TIME and just try to do our job in the 8 hours...even veterans like me.

  • wtliftr Mar 6, 2008

    PAT75-
    Have the State Employee's Credit Union break it up for her- then SHE will get the interest....my school system prefers that we do it ourselves, through the credit union, rather than the school system breaking it up for us. And I'd rather have the interest myself...

  • RonnieR Mar 6, 2008

    I think most principals are on 12 month, not 10 month contracts,
    emtp2k.

    Pat75, if she is working 12 months on a 10 month contract, then her agent needs to see what 's up!
    agent needs to check out what's happening.

  • Uncle Ruckus Mar 6, 2008

    I read somewhere that they spend in excess of $35 million just on busing for "diversity." Can anyone explained to me, or show proof that if a poor kid is sitting next to a average middle class kid, that his learning and test scores go up? Anyone? Where is the data?

  • emtp2k Mar 6, 2008

    There are a lot of ways to save money in the wake county school system. Let's look at many of the principals who make 100+ each year, to work 10 months a year. Plus wake county is a school system that is very top heavy and seem to always believe that if our kids are not performing then money has to be the way to fix it. Money thrown at a problem just makes it an expensive problem. First let's stop busing kids two hours every day or more (one hour there and one back). Let kids who live near a school go to that school. Build more energy efficient schools, the traditional school waste a lot of electricity and water. We should tie the teachers and principals salaries to child performance. If they perform badly you get cost of living adjustment and that is it. If you are a good teacher and educate your students then you should get more. Instead of building large one story buildings that require a lot of land, build two story schools that have a smaller "footprint".

  • saturn5 Mar 6, 2008

    So give the schools the $35M, less the $6.5M they were overpaid for this year. $28.5M, or just about 9.5%, which is right in with the historical increases.

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