Tata urges lawmakers against drastic education cuts
Posted April 29, 2011 5:16 p.m. EDT
Updated April 29, 2011 5:38 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Wake County school Superintendent Tony Tata on Friday urged lawmakers to avoid what could be drastic cuts for education in the state budget.
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. But a proposed budget by House Republicans has schools seeing up to a 9 percent cut.
"These budget cuts I find very severe, and they could quite possibly lead us to a point where we have to impact the classroom, and that's not a place where we want to be," Tata said.
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, while funneling additional resources toward teacher retention in under-enrolled schools and creating new technology and international studies programs in 10 schools.
The Wake County Board of Education will be asked to approve Tata's budget at next week's meeting. They are required to do so before the state budget is passed.
Tata said he is working on contingency plans to account for any differences.
NAACP, others concerned over potential education budget cuts
Representatives of the NAACP, the Alliance of Black Elected Officials and the Legislative Black Caucus met in Raleigh on Friday to express concerns over the deep cuts sought. They said the budget cuts would disproportionately hurt low-income and minority people.
“We’re looking at Smart Start right now taking a cut of $38 million (and) More at Four (being cut by) $30 million. These are the types of programs that level the playing field, that allow our children, low-wealth children, disproportionately African-American children, but all those that need an opportunity excel,” Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-Durham, said.
McKissick said the state should keep its temporary one-cent sales tax for another two years to help bridge its $2.5 billion budget gap.