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Wake School Board, Commissioners Could Reach Budget Compromise

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WAKE COUNTY — The Wake County school board and commissioners may be on some middle ground. Some county commissioners are willing to give schools more money to pass a budget without raising taxes.

Teacher and staff pay raises are still a sticking point between the school system and the commission. School supporters say the budget needs a five-cent tax increase to make ends meet.

"The need is here now and the additional students are here now, and more are going to be moving in, and I think it needs to be addressed," said county commissioner Betty Mangum.

Chairman Michael Weeks offered a compromise. It would give the schools an extra $6 million - on top of the original $10 million budgeted - to maintain current services, but school leaders do not buy it.

"The proposal on the table would not allow us to increase the local supplement to teachers. It would merely pass through what the state puts on the table, which we all know is enought for us to slowly fall behind," says Bill Fletcher, school board chairman.

Commissioner Herb Council said he can see adding another $3 million from a reserve fund to raise teacher salaries and for the teacher recruitment and retention incentive plan.

"Teachers work hard at what they do and they need the additional money, and so I would support over and above the $6 million," he said.

If the new $9 million compromise goes through, it will give the school system two-thirds of what it asked for originally, which would mean no tax increase at all. The county votes on a final budget next Monday.


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