Wake County Schools

Wake County schools reveal 2016-2017 budget

Posted March 15

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— Increasing the Wake County Public School System’s graduation rates and opening new schools to address student growth were key points in the proposed $1.5 billion 2016-2017 budget proposal announced Tuesday night.

The proposal, delivered by superintendent Jim Merrill and chief operating officer David Neter included a $35.7 million increase in local funding, more than 75 percent of which is dictated by enrollment growth, prior commitments and the effect of recent legislative decisions, school officials said.

The budget also includes $2.3 million earmarked for the second year of a five-year commitment to increase performance pay to academic and athletic coaches. The district opted to defer a request for funding to increase employee pay in anticipation of a statewide pay increase.

School officials said that even though local county appropriations have increased since 2008, state funding is down 1.9 percent and federal funding is down 1.6 percent. That means that total per-pupil funding is still lower than it was eight years ago.

“I recognize and truly appreciate last year’s local appropriation was the largest in county history. This year’s proposal reflects the magnitude of the remaining backlog,” said Merrill. “While the recession of 2008 was a catalyst, continuous enrollment growth and shifting revenues since that time have prolonged our challenge.”

School officials said that about 10 percent of their funding request will focus on new or expanding programs, including spending $700,000 to continue the redesign of East Wake High School that began in 2015. District leaders also hope to build staff capacity to integrate technology into classroom lessons, fund new magnet programs and restore previous cuts to the band program.

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  • Matt Nickeson Mar 16, 2016
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    I hear what you are saying but I don't think that the problem lies with the spending on teacher pay. We, as a state, do lag behind the nation in teacher pay and that is a gap that it isn't unreasonable to argue should be closed. My argument on this matter would be that the school system is not efficiently using the money that they have. Some money will have to go to capital investments such as school expansions or new school construction to increase capacity. This is to be expected. However, there seems to be a tremendous amount of waste in silly architectural flourishes in construction, disproportionately increasing administrative costs, and half-baked technology implementations and initiatives. I think that it isn't unreasonable to argue that there should be some reform in teacher incentivization and retention. The attrition rate for early career teachers is ridiculous. I just wish the solutions were as easy to pinpoint as the problems.

  • Shandy Scott Mar 16, 2016
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    Last year’s state budget includes additional teacher raises yet our Democratic school board and Commissioners feel the need to give them a third raise in two years. This has increased our real estate taxes by over 15.3% in these two years. The bond passed in November of 2013 increased taxes by 9%. Merrill and the board increased it another 6.3% with the current budget. Add it up. Look at the future increases. In November of 2016 they will be presenting a two billion dollar school bond that will increase it another 22%. The average assessment just went up 6% which is another raise. The promises they made for teacher raises over the next four year will raise taxes by 9%. Add these up and we are looking at over a 50% increase in the next four years .

  • Matt Nickeson Mar 16, 2016
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    If there is a need for technology then fair enough but let's face facts, most of these kids would probably be doing the teaching. I have an extended family member who is a teacher. He received a grant to implement technology in his classroom. I clearly remember sitting with him and a pile of brand new iPads discussing what to do with them now. He had no idea, he just had this notion that more technology was good. I think that there is a lot of that going on. That is one of the reasons we spend so much money on education with such poor outcomes. All the money spent on those initiatives directly undercut the budget for tried and true educational modalities. I would guess, and I honestly can't back this up with data, that the ROI for these technology implementations on a student achievement basis is much lower than most other possible teaching aid or supply expenditures.

  • Walter Honeycutt Mar 16, 2016
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    Matt while I fully agree on 1 level, I look at my classrooms equipment where I have to teach technology and most units are missing keys on the keyboard and all are out of date. Do they all need ipads, no. Do we need desperate updates. .yes

  • Matt Nickeson Mar 15, 2016
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    Why are they always stuck on technology? More and more money is spent on technology while children still cannot read at level! Junior doesn't need an iPad to learn how to read! Get back to fundamental education, cut administrative costs, and reward and retain good teachers. Stop with all of the technology mularkey!