Education

Wake schools looking at more job cuts

Posted March 2, 2010 5:44 p.m. EST
Updated March 2, 2010 5:57 p.m. EST

School Funding (Generic)

Wake County school board members heard details Tuesday about the superintendent's proposed $1.2 billion operating budget, which calls for a $20 million reduction in central services and 83 layoffs.

In addition, the school system will also eliminate 23.5 vacant positions under the spending plan, altogether saving about $5.8 million, David Neter, chief business officer for Wake County Public School System, said.

"We are continuing to feel the effects of the national economic downturn that we have experienced over the past 15 months," Neter told board members.

Neter pointed to a series of actions that have affected school funding – a $35 million reduction in state funding, $15.7 million in budget reversions returned to the state and county and a state furlough that meant all school system employees lost one-half of one percent of annual salary.

Looking at the budget picture for 2010-11, Neter said there will be increased costs and decreased revenue.

Increased local costs will include $2.5 million for hiring school-based employees for the additional students and schools. Additional costs include $3.1 million for retirement benefits, $1 million for health care and $650,000 to maintain existing teacher supplemental pay and extra-duty pay schedules.

Decreased revenues include an $8.1 million discretionary budget reduction from the state and a $6 million decline in local revenue.

Neter said the system plans to reduce spending in the areas of contracted services and non-personnel services by $7 million in facilities services, $2.5 million in technology services and $1.1 million in instructional services.

The superintendent's $1.2 billion proposed operating budget, Neter said, includes the opening of four new schools – Heritage High, Holly Grove Middle, Mills Park Middle and Alston Ridge Elementary – and an increase of 3,800 students despite the reduced construction of new housing.

Because the staff has not planned for any increase in funding from county commissioners, Neter told the board, the district’s expenditure per student will drop by $100.

Details of central services cuts will be presented during the board’s first work session on the budget later this month. Details of planned job cuts will come out, probably in early April, when the superintendent asks the board for authority under district policies to start laying off workers.

The staff hopes to have the budget finalized by the first board meeting in April. The schools’ budget is due to the county commissioners by May 1.

Looking further out, Neter said he expects the 2011-12 budget “will be even more challenging.” Money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act  falls off, and $35 million in federal funding passed through from the state likely will not come again.

“The bad news you’ve given us tonight isn’t necessarily the end of bad news,” school board Chairman Ron Margiotta said after Neter’s presentation.

“I’m afraid not,” Neter replied.