WCPSS waiting on state lawmakers to determine budget cuts
Posted June 6
Cary, N.C. — The Wake County school board on Tuesday was facing the big question of what to spend and what to cut as they financially prepare for the 2017-2018 school year.
The state budget is still being negotiated between House and Senate lawmakers, but based on current proposals, there appear to be ups and downs for Wake County schools.
Both the House and Senate budgets offer more money for teachers, who could see about a 3 percent increase in pay. There is also additional money for textbooks, computers and special education.
But there are also areas of concern in the budget proposals, inducing cuts to central services under the Senate plan as well as restrictions on how money can be spent.
"We still look to have a loss from this budget," said Wake County school board chair Monika Johnson-Hostler.
School officials said the restrictions could shift a $5 million burden from the state to local funding sources.
"The biggest issue that we have right now is over almost $5 million where the Senate has taken away the flexibility within the budget," said WCPPS finance officer Mark Winters.
Johnson_Hostler said the school board has turned to county commissioners in the past to fill the gap in funding. They are requesting a funding increase this year as well.
"We've not had huge amounts of success in terms of our funding to the state and the county has absolutely picked up the slack on that," she said.
Budget staff in the school system are hoping for a final state plan sooner rather than later.
“You’ve got to remember, we are 18,000 to 20,000 people. We are always hiring people, bringing in new teachers. So as we start looking at the House and Senate, we have to determine where we may have to move funds in order to be able to operate next year,” Winters said. “Our biggest issue is we want a budget passed, so we can set up our budget for next year.”
Concerns remain over a state plan to lower class sizes statewide in kindergarten through third grade. While the plan will now be phased in, it is still expected to cost the district more than $24 million.