Local News

County Leaders Approve $15 Million Extra Funding For Wake Schools

Posted June 21, 2005 8:09 a.m. EDT

— The Wake County Board of Commissioners passed its $808 million budget Monday, allotting $251 million in funding to the county's school system and $10 million to begin construction on a mental health care facility.

Only two county commissioners voted in favor of a tax increase that would have funded the Wake County school system's additional request for $29 million. Instead, the school system will receive $15 million in additional funds.

"The school system asked for 12 percent of an increase this year and 15 percent for the next two years," said Commissioner Chair Joe Bryan. "People's budgets don't go up 45 percent in three years. We've got to live within the amount of resources available."

Without the funding, the school system had said it might have to cut back on certain programs, jobs and dental benefits for employees.

"I feel like employees of the Wake County Public School System are pawns and the children are pawns," said Charlotte Turpin, a member of the Wake County chapter of the North Carolina Association of Educators.

County leaders said they would hold back more than $3 million of the school's budget to make sure dental coverage is not cut from the school system's budget.

School board members said they plan to meet Tuesday to figure out where to cut.

Bryan said an ongoing fraud investigation surrounding the school system's transportation money did not factor into how much the schools are funded.

The final budget also includes $10 million to start planning for a mental hospital to treat people after Dorothea Dix closes in 2007. Mental Health advocates wanted the total $30 million cost funded in this year's budget.