Local News

Wake Commissioner: Number-Crunching Not Adding Up For Schools

Posted October 4, 2005 9:14 a.m. EDT

— It is becoming a familiar pattern: More people move to Wake County and more students fill up the schools. The Wake County School System is grateful for the extra money, but some wonder if it will do the job.

When school officials crunch the numbers later this week, they are expecting to find about 7,500 new students in Wake County classrooms. Wake County commissioners have agreed to give the school district up to $4 million.

"I don't think anyone anticipated this kind of growth. We've normally been seeing 3 to 4 percent a year and this year, we've been looking north of 6 percent, so I think it caught everybody by surprise," said Michael Evans, spokesman for the Wake County Public School System.

The $4 million is supposed to relieve that growth, but not everyone thinks it is necessary.

"(It) seems to me like we're giving them a bonus," said County Commissioner Phil Jeffreys.

Jeffreys was the only county commissioner to vote against the extra funding. He said he voted no because the student population actually decreases as the school year continues.

School officials said even if the projections are right, $4 million may not be enough.

"People say, 'Don't throw more money at it.' Well, we're not being funded competitively when you look at what Charlotte-Mecklenburg or Durham or what anybody else is doing," said Evans.

Another option being considered is changing schools from a traditional schedule to a year-round schedule. Officials claim year-round schools could save the school district millions of dollars when they get more students.