Wake County Schools

Wake board looks for money for school buses, supplies

Posted May 15, 2012 7:53 a.m. EDT
Updated May 15, 2012 1:18 p.m. EDT

— While most Wake County families will know by Tuesday where their children are going to school next year, the school board continues to figure out where to find the money to get hundreds of children to school and to keep their classrooms supplied.

Tuesday opens a two-week window for parents to appeal their child's school assignment or to request a transfer.

School officials said they consider requests based on school capacity and factors that would create a hardship for families, such as health concerns, moving or having children on different calendars. Forms and directions for transfer requests can be found online.

At its meeting Tuesday afternoon, the Wake County Board of Education will consider arranging and paying for transportation for 550 students who chose not to switch to a new school provided by the new assignment plan and to be grandfathered into their old school.

Board member Jim Martin has said the the district needs to provide transportation for all students, but board member John Tedesco called for waiting to see how many parents the school system could help before making a promise. School staff said further research and working models might help a majority of the students in need of busing.

Formal, written notification goes out Tuesday to parents of children who were assigned earlier, and the families with new children in the school system or who moved within the county could check their assignment online as of Monday.

The school board will also discuss deep cuts to cleaning services and classroom supplies that its budget adopted in early May makes to partially offset a loss of $38 million in federal and state funding.

The school board is considering making a one-time transfer from its $34 million rainy day fund to pay for those expenses.

That budget already calls for using $28 million from the fund, but school board members have disagreed on whether they should fully tap out the reserve fund before asking county leaders for more money.

County commissioners have indicated that they will be able provide some but not all of the $8.8 million requested by the school board, representing a 2.8 percent increase from the county's contribution of $314 million this year.

The school system's proposed budget doesn't cut any jobs and covers enrolling 3,500 new students, opening four new schools and giving a 1 percent raise to teachers and $500 bonus to other staff.

Wake County commissioners will review their finances at a meeting Wednesday. They must adopt a final budget by June 18, and based on the level of county funding, the school board has until June 30 to adjust its budget.