Wake County Schools

Group representing 500 Wake school leaders asks governor, lawmakers to pass a budget

Posted August 26, 2019 5:07 p.m. EDT

NC Legislative Building

— A group representing more than 500 Wake County school principals and assistant principals sent a letter to Gov. Roy Cooper and lawmakers Monday, asking them to pass a budget so educators can get raises.

The Wake County Public School System’s Division of Principals and Assistant Principals sent the letter on the first day of classes amid the ongoing budget impasse, which has created uncertainty for staff and families, according to the group.

"Questions linger around promised but unfunded pay increases for support staff. Professional staff have earned their promised step increases in their salary schedule upon beginning the new year. But those steps remain unfunded and a promise remains unfulfilled," the group wrote. "Much-needed additional mental health staff and school resource officer positions remain vacant leaving our students vulnerable. Without a ratified state budget our students have started school without some very important items on their school supply lists resources, support and safety."

After Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the budget, he pushed for negotiations over a final spending plan to include expanding taxpayer-funded health coverage to hundreds of thousands of low-income working adults. But Republican legislative leaders want no part of Medicaid expansion, saying the cost could wind up to be exorbitant in the future.

House Speaker Tim Moore has been unsuccessful so far in trying to wrangle enough Democrats over to his side to override Cooper's budget veto, and there has been little, if any, negotiation between Cooper's administration and GOP leaders on a compromise spending plan.

Lawmakers have begun an effort to work around the veto and pass portions of the budget that they believe Cooper can support.

A bill cleared the Senate Appropriations committee last week that would give corrections officers 2.5 percent pay raises in each of the next two years, as well as five days of special annual leave. Corrections officers serving in prisons where jobs are hard to fill also would get a bonus of at least $2,500. Bills to give other state employees and teachers as yet unannounced raises are expected to start moving in the House this week, Moore said.

Republican legislative leaders put forward a plan last week to dispose of much of the $900 million budget surplus by giving the money back to North Carolina taxpayers. Cooper spokesman Ford Porter said the budget surplus would be better spent on North Carolina schools.

Scott Lassiter, legislative chair for the group representing Wake school leaders, said in a press release that he knows "hundreds of skilled, trained and ready school administrators out there who could get a compromise in place."

"After all, we could not get away with this kind of gridlock in our schools," he wrote.