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Budget Shortfall Forces School Board to Cut Pay Raises

The Wake County school board recommended Tuesday cutting more than $1.7 million in employee pay raises and decreasing funding in other areas of next year's operating budget to make up for a $4.9 million budget shortfall.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The Wake County Board of Education Tuesday voted to cut more than $1.7 million in employee pay raises and to decrease funding in other areas of next year's operating budget to help make up for a $4.9 million budget shortfall.
"It was just a matter of sort of robbing Peter to pay Paul, and how are we gonna balance this, how are we gonna come up with it," said Patti Head, head of the school board.

About $1.17 million cut from the 2007-2008 spending plan would have gone toward certified salary supplements, which would affect teaching staff. Another $300,000 was cut from a 2 percent performance supplement and more than $225,000 was cut from an increased extra-duty compensation salary schedule.

The cutbacks were only from new pay supplements and only affect raises from the school system. Certified staff are still expected to get a 5 percent raise from the state.

The board decided, however, not to cut $1.9 million of pay supplements for non-teaching staff, including bus drivers and cafeteria workers.

In May, the school system requested $305 million to keep up with growth and the influx of students. Last month, the Wake County Board of Commissioners approved a 0.8-cent increase in the county property tax rate that will give the school system $300 million, but $5 million less than what it requested.

"We were looking everywhere we could find somewhere to replace those funds," said Carol Parker, a school board member.

Board members went back on a recommendation they made earlier Tuesday to cut $1.12 million allocated for intersession teaching assistants at year-round schools. Those employees help students, who are enrolled in year-round schools but on a break, catch up with their studies and improve.

But they decided Tuesday evening to take that money from the school system's reserve fund, along with another $1.26 million.

"I would have preferred not to have done that deeply into our fund balance," said Head. "We deal with this every year."

School officials also decided to drop funding for high-school lacrosse programs at 19 high schools, but decided to keep varsity lacrosse and cut junior varsity as long as funding doesn't exceed more than $100,000.

Cuts also include $166,098 for funding of charter schools, $68,757 for technology contracts, $5,240 in athletic funding at East Cary Middle School and Wendell Middle School.