Local News

Wake Schools: Teachers Would Bear Brunt of Budget Cuts

Posted March 25, 2008 6:51 p.m. EDT
Updated March 25, 2008 11:50 p.m. EDT

— Wake County teachers would have to forgo some pay increases and pay more for dental insurance if county leaders don't provide an extra $18 million in funding, officials said Tuesday.

School district administrators said three weeks ago that they would likely need an extra $35 million, an increase of 12 percent from last year, from the county commissioners for the 2008-09 school year, but they said Tuesday that they expect growth in the local tax base would provide almost half of that amount.

Administrators laid out a plan for school board members Tuesday that would shave more than $18.1 million from its request if there are no additional funds from the county.

The proposal calls for freezing local salary supplements for teachers, saving about $4.8 million; eliminating the employer portion of dental insurance premiums, $4.1 million; reducing maintenance, $2.5 million; and cutting $4.6 million in planned new programs for the coming year.

The scenario also would get rid of recruitment and signing bonuses.

“Any reduction will certainly impact schools,” said Donna Hargens, Wake County Schools chief academic officer.

The commissioners must approve the school budget after the school board approves it.

“It’s the annual budget dance, if I may call it. It’s much like Ground Hog Day,” said Joe Bryan, Wake County Board of Commissioners chair.

Bryan would not comment on specific possible cuts, saying he will wait to see the final budget proposal before discussing possibilities.

David Neter, Wake County Schools financial officer, wants to “keep the cuts away from the programs and away directly from the schools.”

“We know the teacher is a factor that makes the most difference in student achievement, so whenever you touch the teacher, you certainly impact instruction,” Hargens said.