Wake County Schools

Wake school board approves $1.25B budget

Posted May 3, 2011 10:16 p.m. EDT
Updated May 4, 2011 8:22 a.m. EDT

— The Wake County Board of Education on Tuesday approved Superintendent Tony Tata's proposed $1.25 billion budget in a 5-2 vote.

Tata's $1.25 billion budget prioritizes teacher retention and classroom investment in the face of a projected $2 billion to $3 billion state budget shortfall next year.

Under the budget, the school district will 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 budget includes about $313 million from the county. 

"In the spirit of cooperation with our county commissioners and our struggling community, I think it behooves us to do the best we can with the resources we are given," board member John Tedesco said. 

Prior to the budget vote, board member Anne McLaurin asked for an amendment to request more money from county commissioners. Board members Keith Sutton and Carolyn Morrison voted in favor of the amendment, which was defeated 4-3.

"If you ask and someone says, 'No,' and explains the reason, then you live with that. But if you never ask, then you are shirking your responsibility," McLaurin said of her proposal.

In addition to the budget, the board also voted to change the schedule of five underutilized year-round schools to a single-track system to save money. The schedule will be changed for two years to see how well it works. 

The schools affected by the change are: Alston Ridge, Highcroft, Lake Myra, Rand Road and Timber Drive.

Tata originally proposed changing 14 year-round schools but reduced the number after getting feedback from parents and staff. 

The idea of converting year-round schools is a controversial one that has drawn some criticism. The community group Great Schools in Wake County had asked Tata to put the issue on hold until reassignment plans are complete.

Because of the late change, Tata said they would work with families to excuse absences due to vacations or other plans already scheduled based on the current schedule.