Wake County Schools

Wake school board meets on proposed $1.25B budget

Posted March 20, 2012 12:54 p.m. EDT
Updated March 20, 2012 9:38 p.m. EDT

— Wake County school board members got a closer look Tuesday afternoon at the superintendent's $1.25 billion proposed operating budget for the next school year.

Superintendent Tony Tata, earlier this month, laid out his spending priorities for 2012-13, which include investing in teachers and staff, setting conditions for all schools to be high-performing and operating more efficiently.

Among the details of his proposal this year is a 1-percent increase in teachers' base salaries and a one-time $500 bonus for other school employees.

The only employees not to see more money are those on the superintendent's leadership team.

There are no proposed layoffs or job cuts and no changes to school and classroom staffing formulas.

Still, the budget is $24.3 million less than the current budget year, partly as a result of $28 million in expiring federal grants, as well as $8.6 million in state funding.

Some school board members expressed concerns Tuesday about using $28 million of the system's nearly $34 million reserve to pay for recurring expenses.

Staff said that would be replenished next year, in part, by $20 million in investment savings.

The budget does have a gap of nearly $8.8 million that Tata believes could be filled by the Wake County Board of Commissioners.

That's a 2.8-percent increase over the current budget, and Commissioner Joe Bryan has said that, although his board will consider Tata's request, he doubts much money will be available for the school system since the commission's top priority for next year is not to raise taxes.

Tata's budget also takes into account more efficient operations, such as a new bus routing system that's expected to save the district an estimated $6 million a year over the next two years.

The public has a chance to weigh in on the budget at the school board's next regular meeting on April 10. They can also comment on the district's website.

The school board is expected to vote on the budget May 8.