Wake parents offer creative school budget advice

Posted December 21, 2010 9:30 p.m. EST
Updated January 18, 2011 6:08 p.m. EST

— From changing the light bulbs to canceling school lunches, parents of Wake County students offered creative suggestions to help the school system save money next year.

The Wake County Public School System faces an estimated $70 million to $100 million budget shortfall next year, due to a lack of county, state and federal funding.

Federal stimulus money is also drying up.

Desperate for input, the school system set up a web site for parents to submit their money-saving ideas.

Suzy Lamb was eager to make suggestions. She said she's seen teachers forced to do more with less money.

"I have seen how they had to cut back on other things at the school," she said.

She suggested the school system change their light bulbs.

"Replacing light bulbs with LED ones that last longer and use less electricity or switches that would go out when no one was in the classroom," Lamb said.

Another parent suggested schools turn their cafeterias to buffets to reduce the number of staff they need to hand out food. One parent even recommended eliminating school lunch programs altogether.

"Make parents responsible to pack their children's own lunches," the unidentified respondent wrote.

One concerned resident offered the idea of cutting a school day out of the week, making up for it with four longer days.

Chrys Browne has worked for Wake County schools for a long time, she said. She thinks district leaders should allow employees, excluding teachers, to take furlough without pay instead of cutting positions.

Lamb said she hopes district leaders consider all the submitted ideas.

"I hope if they are asking for (input), it is genuine in asking for information and they are willing to look at it," she said.

The district expects an additional 4,100 students will either be enrolled in schools or attending local charter schools next year.

Suggestions are still being accepted on the Wake schools' website.