Wake County Schools

More budget worries for Wake schools

Posted June 3, 2011 5:21 p.m. EDT

School Funding (Generic)

— As the state budget battle continues, Wake County's school chief says he's hearing that he should to expect anywhere from a 5-10 percent reduction in state funding.

Superintendent Tony Tata said Friday morning that the latest figure he's heard about is a 6 percent cut.

He wouldn't answer any questions about what that would mean in terms of job cuts until he gets an actual figure from the state.

"I'm just going to wait until I know what reality is so that I'm not putting fear out there," he said. "I don't want to do that. This is a school system. These are real people with real lives."

Last month, the Wake County Board of Education adopted a $1.25 billion budget that required them to eliminate 174 clerical positions – 60 of which are vacant – to save $5.4 million.

The deeper state budget cuts could require cutting some custodial and teacher's assistant jobs, the district's chief business officer has said.

Republican lawmakers on Saturday are expected to send their $19.7 billion budget to the governor, who has criticized the education provisions, calling them a charade.

The bill preserves 13,000 teaching assistant positions and includes $61 million for an additional 1,100 teachers in grades K-3, but it also increases general cuts from $4 million to $128 million.

"It’s a charade of sorts," Gov. Bev Perdue said Tuesday. "There’s no way for them to take these cuts without firing teachers and teachers' assistants."

The next day, her office issued a series of news releases analyzing the impact on school districts across the state.

The Wake County Public School System, for example, would lose $42.3 million under the proposed spending plan. Durham Public Schools would have to cut $9.3 million, and Cumberland County Schools would lose $15.1 million, according to the analysis.

Perdue said local school systems have already cut everything they can outside the classroom.

"They’ve done more with less for two years," she added. "There is nothing else left for them to cut but warm bodies."