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Wake school leaders appeal to county commissioners

Posted April 15, 2009
Updated April 28, 2009

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— Larger class sizes and fewer courses are already part of the new reality for the Wake County Public School System in tough economic times, the district's superintendent told county commissioners Wednesday.

But the economic impact could be deeper, Del Burns said, without $316 million it needs from the county for the 2009-2010 school year.

High school class generic Wake school leaders make plea to county officials

Last month, the school board approved a proposed budget of $1.7 billion, which would come from a combination of local, state and federal funding.

School officials have said the requested county funding – about $700,000 more than last year's original budget – would help take care of costs associated with 2,500 additional students and three new schools.

Even though the additional amount is much less than what the district requested for the 2008-2009 school year, county commissioners are facing a projected budget shortfall of at least $23 million and are looking to cut department budgets throughout the county.

"I'm an advocate for not slashing (budgets) at all, but by the same token, I also realize we don't have too many choices this year," county commissioner Betty Lou Ward said. "The choices that we maybe have had in the past are not there this year. We're having to slash everything."

But Burns said Wednesday that the school system is also preparing for about $40 million less in funding from the state. State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison has also told districts statewide to limit spending to essential needs.

Burns said items considered non-essential include paper and other supplies as well as costs for other services, such as tires and transmissions for buses.

"We're not going to be able to deliver those under the state's directive," he said.

Although Burns said it is unlikely schools will be running out of paper, he acknowledged that, if schools have not budgeted properly, there might not be enough funding.

"What it will mean is that there will be fewer resources. That will be some things that folks will have to choose not to do because they have to make these tough decisions around priorities that are present," Burns said.

Board members have already considered various money-saving measures, including increasing class sizes to reduce the number of teachers needed, eliminating some high school electives and ordering employees to do away with personal heaters, fans and coffee makers to cut electricity costs.

The school district also plans to keep in place a hiring freeze on administrative positions, and Burns has made last year's $11 million in state and local cuts permanent.

Burns has ordered principals to fill no more than 95 percent of their openings. That means some of the nearly 1,500 teachers and school employees whose contracts expire at the end of June could lose their jobs.

"I'm hopeful that I'm going to be able to bring some of my terminating contract people back," said Bob Smith, the principal at Durant Road Middle School in Raleigh. "For right now, it weighs on their minds. It weighs on my mind. You lose sleep over it."

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  • AppStateForever Apr 17, 2009

    You will never truly understand the dynamic of any classroom until you are standing there and must teach. Many first year teachers are lost to the profession because of this fact. Observing, visiting, or sitting in on a class does not give you a true understanding of the dynamic and how the teacher works in it. It's a simple concept of "you never know what you'll do until you're in the situation." Adding just two students to a classroom increases time spent on discipline issues and reduces achievement. Teachers and administrators are forced into a box by the demands of the public. Higher test scores and better education are demanded but the public rarely wants to pay the price of these advancements. Buildings age and need maintenance or replacement. They're classes not sardine cans. Technology must be available. Even in a recession there are things that should not be cut. Healthcare, public safety, education. These are things we need to survive and better our society.

  • time4real Apr 16, 2009

    nice talkin' to ya'!

  • time4real Apr 16, 2009

    "Most of you who complain have no idea what is actually happening in these schools, and what teachers are already being asked to do."

    And most of you in the classrooms have NO idea what the children & parents are being put through being shuffled from one schedule, one track, one bus, one set of friends, one school to another! How's that working out for ya'?

  • time4real Apr 16, 2009

    Del, the County Commissioners see through your garbage. You people will once again not get what you want and will learn to deal with it like everyone else. You have forced schools into year round schedules for no gains in most of those cases, parents are being forced to endure track/schedule changes again because many of the year round schools are collapsing tracks due to lack of kids, teachers are losing jobs at those schools because of lack of need and you want a bailout. Well, guess what Del? No bailout for you! This fall when your precious puppets lose 4 of their back scratchers and the focus on the school board change changes from rogue agendas back to equality in education then we can talk about bumping your allowance! Right after we FIRE YOU!

  • ++Ajax++ Apr 16, 2009

    bnorris6 you obviously have no idea about what makes a good teacher and what doesn't. How bout we take 2 of the worst behavior kids in the school and put them in your kids class and see how it affects your childs learning? Get real and get a clue.

  • Space Mountain Apr 16, 2009

    Wake County is too large and has too many people to have just one school system. They need to break it down into county and city districts. It makes no sense trying to spend the monsy they do for one big school system like that. Plus, when they build new schools now, they waste so much money trying to make them fancy. Just build a basic brick building and leave it at that. Heck, I don't even care if they just build a gym, cafeteria, and auditorium and have all the classes in trailers. When I was in school, we liked the classes in trialers because those were the only ones that had AC.

  • grammaladybug Apr 15, 2009

    Most teachers already operate at way above the classroom cap sizes due to waivers on their school improvement plans. I personally teach classes of 40 plus. 40 plus, people, wake up! That's two recommended size classes, and you want us to "suck it up" and add just a couple more. Most of you who complain have no idea what is actually happening in these schools, and what teachers are already being asked to do.

  • injameswetrust2003 Apr 15, 2009

    Forced busing will never stop in Wake County thanks to the Socialist school board and the Socialist editors of the News and Observer spreading their propoganda about integrated schools. Does Wake's diversity policy work? Ask the residents of Garner. Their schools are way out of whack compared to the rest of the county. Let's bus all the Cary kids to Garner and vice versa and see how that goes over. At least the schools will be better balanced.

  • chfdcpt Apr 15, 2009

    I have mentioned this on other posts in the past...

    Is there a reason that the county school superintendant makes more than our governor? Some of these superintendants make more than a Sheriff or the Fire Chief or Police Chief.

  • Mean Old Mom Apr 15, 2009

    It seems the general consensus in these posts is to reduce busing. That would certainly save money in gas and vehicle maintenance. You would probably have enough money left over to pay bonuses to some teachers to teach at underperforming schools where students tend to be bused away from and still spend less overall.

    In addition, every aspect of our economy (business, banks, manufacturing, healthcare)is being affected by the recession (i.e. no raises, reduced expenditures, job cuts). So schools should have to make the same tough choices the rest of us make. Do I buy prime rib or hamburger or beans and rice? On the other hand, citizens need to be understanding and not complain when their kid has to bring his own paper and pens to school. Those who are able can send extra. We all have to bite the bullet and it will probably get worse before it gets better. The recession in itself is becoming a good educational experience for our children.

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