Wake County Schools

Tata reworks budget, vows to protect teachers

Posted April 15, 2011 5:07 p.m. EDT
Updated April 15, 2011 6:17 p.m. EDT

Wake County Public School System

— The Wake County Public School System and the state Department of Public Instruction have been bracing for a 5 percent cut in this year's state budget.

Under a state budget proposed by the House this week, schools could see a 9 percent cut.

“I think that the legislature needs to take a hard look at what we are doing and why we're doing it,” Wake County Superintendent Tony Tata said Friday.

Earlier this month, Tata released a $1.25 billion budget proposal that prioritizes teacher retention and classroom investment in the face of a projected $2 billion to $3 billion state budget shortfall next year.

Under that budget, the school district would cut 46 central services clerical positions, reduce contract months for assistant principals and reduce per-student spending by $52 next year, Tata said, while funneling additional resources toward teacher retention in under-enrolled schools and creating new technology and international studies programs in 10 schools.

"We would have to make some serious cuts to get to 9 or 10 percent," Tata said. 

Tata said he and his staff are looking for ways to rework their budget to soften the blow, but he admits deeper cuts would likely mean more school employees will be out of work.

"It's hard to imagine how we would not affect more jobs," Tata said. 

North Carolina Association of Educators lobbyist Brian Lewis estimates 7,000 teachers could lose their jobs statewide if education cuts reach 9 percent. 

"This is a blueprint for how you are going to do irreparable damage to the public school system in North Carolina," Lewis said. 

With tough decisions ahead, Tata vows he'll do all he can to protect teachers and classrooms.

“If we are getting into cutting teachers, you can rest assured that we have found no other thing to cut,” Tata said.