Local News

Wake County Not Likely To Fund Schools $29 Million; Job Cuts Possible

Posted May 10, 2005 7:10 a.m. EDT

— County commissioners have dropped hints that the Wake County School System will likely not get the extra $29 million it has requested for next year. Without additional funding, school leaders say they will have to cut positions.

Unlike years past, the school system said it has less in its savings from which it can draw money. The growing community and the increasing operational costs necessitate the school system to ask for more money.

If the Wake County School System does not get the $29 million budget increase it wants, it will affect jobs said Associate Superintendent Del Burns.

"It could involve teachers, teachers' assistants, clerical, assistant principals, central office staff," Burns said. "It depends on how the reductions come to us."

County Commissioner Herb Council said the county has to staff a brand new jail and build a new mental health facility.

"There will be a compromise, but I don't think that we'll get to $29 million," County Commissioner Herb Council said.

He said a more realistic increase is $12 to $13 million.

But one school board member said that is not enough to keep things on the same track.

"The reality is, without the funding, we're cutting levels of service that we had last year," school board member Bill Fletcher said.

Student population is expected to grow by nearly 5,000 students. School officials estimate it will cost $11 million more to operate more buildings and provide more staff. Salary and benefit increases are slated to cost $6 million. More than 20 new programs, including the first pay raise for coaches since 1988, are expected to cost $5 million. And a list of five new projects, such as an alternative middle school, will cost $744,000 more.

Fletcher thinks the public would support a tax increase, but Council said there are not enough votes on the County Commission to push a tax increase forward.

The county manager unveils his budget Monday. The public can weigh in on June 6 and commissioners will vote mid-June.