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Wake school board balances budget

Posted June 23, 2008

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— After meeting for more than five hours, the Wake County Board of Education balanced its budget for the 2008-2009 fiscal year on Monday, cutting more than $39 million from its spending plan.

Among those items cut was $543,600 in signing bonuses for teachers, $3.3 million for programs for academically gifted students; $4.4 million in foreign language programs in elementary schools; and $2.5 million for literacy coaches.

Among those items spared was $4.8 million in salary supplements and $4.1 million in employer contribution to dental benefits.

School system staff must now review the tentative budget. If there are no changes, the school board is expected to vote on it at a July 15 meeting.

In a move that drew criticism from school board members last week, the Board of Commissioners allotted the Wake County Public School System $319.2 million in its county budget for the 2008-2009 school year – nearly $36 million less than what the school board had requested but a 6 percent increase from the 2007-2008 school year.

School administrators and advocates argued the funding gap will hurt students and will keep the school system from progressing.

"We are going to go backward and end up with a school system that I don't think people are going to like very well," said Jennifer Lanane, president of the Wake County chapter of the North Carolina Association of Educators.

The school system had asked for more than $355 million so that it could continue to provide its current level of services and programs for an estimated 6,000 additional students next school year. About $25 million of that money would have gone to new education programs.

School board members said the proposed budget – of which $3 million is in a reserve account and available only if the school system reaches its anticipated growth – leaves them nearly $12 million short of basic operating costs and without $25 million to start new programs.

"There will be an impact," Wake schools Superintendent Del Burns said. "It is hard to speculate what it will be and when it will touch students, but it will at some point in the process."

County money accounts for a third of the Wake school system's budget. The state supplies 61 percent and the federal government provides 6 percent.

Those sources will bring the school system's budget to around $1 billion for the new fiscal year, which begins July 1.

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  • rc4nc Jun 24, 2008

    Not_So_Dumb said "Align with the true power in public education - the public. Without public support, there will be nothing for the schools."

    Wow, I couldn't have said it better....

  • eduncw Jun 24, 2008

    All i care is that the teachers get proper pay and benefits. teachers do not get paid enough for what they do. The school budget has cut dental care for wake co school employees. The rest of the county employees have dental care. A 3% pay increase. That does not even come close to the increase in cost of living.

    pay your teachers!

  • saltnsanddefenderofdamiddleclass Jun 24, 2008

    whatusay has it completely right....I'd vote for this GOLO member to revamp WCPS

  • bnorris6 Jun 24, 2008

    The WCPPS and all government should be runned like a coporation.
    Too much waste and the more money they are given the more they want. They will never have enough money. Most citizens are having to make cuts in their household budgets and make sacrifices, why can't the schools and government in general do the same. We can't always have what we want and what we think we need is usually another want. Provide the basics and live with it.

  • Tired_of_LIBERALS Jun 24, 2008

    I would be quite happy with "run down equipment and leaking buildings." I am quite tired of over priced, gaudy, superfluous government buildings as well as ridiculous spending like ladder fire trucks in Garner. Obviously, government has too much of our money already.

  • whatelseisnew Jun 24, 2008

    The free and reduced lunch programs are Federally-funded. Even so, I would like to see the end to it so it does not give the School board cover for the racial profiling they are doing.

  • john60 Jun 24, 2008

    IIRC changing the administration part of the Education budget would require legislative approval; all those officials were added to oversee this and that program put in place by the legislators in the first place.

    Eliminate busing; absolutely. Other cities have eliminated busing and the world didn't end and the kids kept learning. This needs to stop before the next school session begins; it's one of the biggest drains on their budget, yet they keep doing it.

    As for moving somewhere else, well, you'd have to go to another state. I doubt any county in NC will say they've got enough money for everything they want, unless you want to move to a poor rural county where they're happy with run down equipment and leaking buildings.

  • Not_So_Dumb Jun 24, 2008

    -"end up with a school system that I don't think people are going to like very well," said Jennifer Lanane-

    Earth to Lanane - people don't like the system now! It took half a million dollars in PR money to get a bond passed. Private schools cannot keep up with demand. The system is being sued. Towns are looking at how to leave the system.

    As a former WCPSS teacher, all teachers need to distance themselves from the cluelessness of this association. Align with the true power in public education - the public. Without public support, there will be nothing for the schools.

  • Carolina Conservative Jun 24, 2008

    If they met for 5 hours and managed to balance this budget, imagine how much less they could exist with if they met for an entire week.

  • TheAdmiral Jun 24, 2008

    ""There will be an impact," Wake schools Superintendent Del Burns said. "It is hard to speculate what it will be and when it will touch students, but it will at some point in the process.""

    So what Del Burns is saying is that he don't want to whack teachers who are ineffective but burn the students for the cuts.

    If I were a parent of a child in the school system I think I would be angry.

    Oh Wait - I AM!

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