Local News

Wake schools begin hiring freeze

Posted February 6, 2009 12:09 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

Wake County Public School System

— Due to tough economic conditions, the Wake County Public School System has implemented a hiring freeze until at least June 30, the school system announced Friday.

As of Feb. 6, 42 empty positions will remain unfilled unless they are "mission critical," school officials said. The openings range from janitorial to physical therapy.

"Although Wake County's economy is in a better position than most, our state and county governments still expect a serious shortfall in revenue," Superintendent Del Burns said in a school system news release.

You can listen to Burns talk about the hiring freeze.

"We are positioning WCPSS for anticipated decreases in revenue based on trends in the economy. These are uncertain times for families, businesses and WCPSS employees alike, but together we can work through them," he said.

Principals are allowed to offer contracts ending on June 30 to teachers needed to fill school-based teaching vacancies. Filling mission-critical vacancies elsewhere in WCPSS will require Burns' approval.

Wake County Schools spokesman Michael Evans said the district is trying to be as "proactive as possible" to avoid layoffs.

“The last thing you want to do with moral is have a layoff, so we are trying to avoid that at all costs,” Evans said.

The Wake County Board of Education reduced the school system's budget by $11.2 million on Dec. 2 due to a directive from the state and a request from county government.

State funding was reduced by 1.45 percent for Central Services and 0.73 percent for schools. Local funding was reduced by 2.88 percent for Central Services and 0.49 percent for schools.

Out-of-state travel was frozen systemwide, although school field trips are exempt. The board deferred the purchase of replacement fixed assets and new buses as well.

School budgets for instructional supplies and classroom materials were reduced by $7.25 per student, according to school officials.

"Past actions by the school board and our leadership team have helped minimize the impact to our classrooms to this point, although we now have less flexibility," said Chief Business Officer David Neter. "We will continue to manage the economic uncertainty in a thoughtful, methodical and deliberate manner with a focus on our students, as well as the WCPSS employees who serve them and our schools."