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Wake School Board Blames Lack Of Funding For Budget Cuts

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Members of the Wake County School Board are blaming system cutbacks on a smaller budget than what the school board requested. From teacher health care benefits to different positions, board members say they have no choice but to put them on the chopping block.

Under the proposed cutbacks, dental benefits for all school system employees would be eliminated. Improvement projects, jobs and programs would also be affected.

The Wake County School System will get $248 million from Wake County, which is more than it received last year, but the school system still says it is not enough to keep up with growth and expectations.

It had initially asked for a $29 million raise over last year's budget, but will probably only get $12 million more. The county said that is all it can give without a tax increase.

"I think most school system employees would be affected if dental benefits are cut," said Sanderson High School Principal Cathy Moore.

Other cuts include about 50 teacher assistants and 12 to 14 Central Office jobs.

Principals like Moore would likely have to share her one computer technician with another high school. "When a person has to split their time, it reduces the expediency to which they can solve an issue," Moore said.

County Commission Chairman Joe Bryan thinks the announced cuts are a ploy to stir public outrage. "I don't think the public is going to buy that," he said.

Bryan said that while the school system is not getting all the money it wants, it has been getting more money for several years running.

"I just think that's unfortunate that this is the card played by Central Office when really in the grand scope of things, we're talking about a 1.8 percent difference in the total budget of over a billion," Bryan said.

While the cuts are less than 2 percent of the total operating budget, the school system said a lack of funding adds up over time.

The school system will be able to add some money from its savings, but not a lot. A public hearing before the Wake County Board of Commissioners is scheduled for June 6.


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