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Wake schools bracing for 'economic hurricane'

Posted March 3, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— The Wake County school system's superintendent said the district faces "the highest level of financial uncertainty" he has experienced in his lifetime and that the system is bracing for "an economic hurricane."

While delivering his proposed budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, Del Burns told Board of Education members Tuesday afternoon that the school system will continue a hiring freeze for central office positions and warned that contracts set to expire at the end of June might not be renewed.

“It’s scary for those that are on non-renewable contracts because they’re the ones that are out there,” said Jennifer Lanane, president of the Wake County chapter of the N.C. Association of Educators.

About, 1,500 employees have contracts that will expire. It is unknown what departments those employees work in.

“It translates to children’s seats in classrooms and larger class sizes, less services and that’s very grim for public education,” Lanane said.

Wake County Board of Education members 3/3/09 Wake schools deal with financial uncertainty

The system will fill 95 percent of its anticipated school-based positions until state and local budgets are set, Burns said.

It will also make permanent $11 million in state and local cuts initiated in December, Burns said.

“(There will be) no growth, no inflation, no improvements, nothing – except legislated salary increases and benefits projected at a very low level," Burns said.

Despite 2,300 students projected to join the school system next year, Burns said his budget does not ask for any additional funding, because it won't be there.

"This budget maintains the county appropriation request at the prior year level of $316 million," he said. "The result is that the per-pupil county appropriation for 2009-2010 will be less than the per-pupil appropriation on July 1, 2008.”

The per-pupil county appropriation for the 2008-2009 school year was $2,218. This year the county is requesting $2,182.

Burns said it is still unclear how much the school system will lose in state funding but that board members should expect a nearly $40 million funding gap.

Earlier Tuesday, a school board committee decided to look into delaying funding for 12 projects for at least another year or two.

That includes construction of four new schools – Forest Ridge High on Forestville Road in northern Wake County; Rolesville Middle, Walnut Creek Elementary in Raleigh and Wilburn Elementary in Raleigh.

Funding for new technology needs is also on hold.

School board members meet Thursday to discuss the proposed budget. A public hearing may also be held, officials said.

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  • discowhale Mar 4, 2009

    But how will this affect the WCPSS's ability to teach the kids that it's OK for Tommy to have 2 Daddies, or that Margie isn't SO different because she has 2 Mommies?

    Let me float some ideas.

    Go back to teaching the basics. Reading, writing, math, etc. Quit all the social engineering. Leave lifestyle teaching to dad and dad, or mom and mom, or even weirder, to mom and dad.

    Quit rewriting the history books every 2 or 3 years. Add a workbook for a few years.

    Quit coming up with a NEW math every few year. 2 + 2 = 4, I don't care how you re-package it.

    Give some authority BACK to the teachers so the kids have to obey them. Quit siding with the kids AGAINST the teachers. 30 kids don't need a teacher and two aids, unless mom and dad undermine their authority. 40 years ago we had JUST a teacher.

    Likewise, a school with a few hundred kids doesn't need 40 non-teaching support people. Send about half of them home. Good admin people can work anywhere. Bad ones can sell fries at BK

  • time4real Mar 4, 2009

    "So I would like to know how they are qualified to make decisions on the youth of Wake Co."

    They aren't! Surprised!?

  • SilverWolf Mar 4, 2009

    Send the kids back to their neighborhood schools. save a ton on fuel costs for shipping them all over wake county. refuse to return the 5.5 mil. the state has demanded returned. sell lottery tickets at all school functions and pocket the cash...all the cash. the state doesn't get a dime of it, even the tax due from the sales.

  • riddick Mar 4, 2009

    Thank god we have the education lottery... oh.. nevermind. We're screwed!

  • julesfl9 Mar 4, 2009

    Ok so here we go. Wake County has to let teachers go because the Board is to Stupid to figure out that they could keep those teachers if they weren't wasting money by busing kids all over God's creation.
    Also has anyone really taken the time to look at the 9 board members credentials? It looks like to that only 3 of them have actually taught in a classroom and of those 3, only one of them taught in a public school system, the other 2 taught only at Universities. So I would like to know how they are qualified to make decisions on the youth of Wake Co. when a majority of them have never stepped one foot into the classroom, and by the way in my opinion being involved with the PTA doesn't count as experience to me because it is obvious that they weren't paying attention to what the other parents were saying.

  • AtALost Mar 4, 2009

    I'm like Chance, I don't understand why the budget is so tight now. Was NC selling vegetables on some website and sales have plummeted?

  • AtALost Mar 4, 2009

    After years and years of busing, most schools should be on par by now. It's certainly something they should consider cutting now that the budget is so tight. Wouldn't be that difficult since they already change schedules and assignments nearly every year. Time for some "out of box" thinking if they're capable of that.

  • ibbott41 Mar 4, 2009

    The main priority for the schools is to educate, not to serve as a charity organization,
    You have to many freebies that are breaking your system, and now it is time to realize that you made a mistake, Do not get rid of teachers and personnel this will only make the situation worse but start by cutting free lunches, and free benefits to people who are not giving back to the community or not paying taxes.

  • pebbles262004 Mar 4, 2009

    I think they should send all the kids to thier own discricts that are only 5 or 6 miles away from home instead of sending them 20 or 30 miles away from home that would save on fuel right there. Or let the parents take thier kids to school the buses are not babysitters for early int he morning and late int he afternoon. I take my child to school and pick her up everyday. I do not want her on the bus

  • 68_polara Mar 4, 2009

    Wonder what the district spends on fuel busing students across the county.

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