Local News

Wake school board hears from public on budget

Posted March 17, 2009 8:12 a.m. EDT
Updated March 17, 2009 7:05 p.m. EDT

— The public shared concerns about proposed school budget cuts during Tuesday afternoon’s Wake County Board of Education meeting.

Budget deficits at the state and county levels mean the district could have a shortfall of about $40 million from what it had expected to have in the 2009-10 school year, Superintendent Del Burns has said.

Board members are considering increasing class sizes to reduce the number of teachers needed and eliminating some high school electives to cut costs.

Burns said the school system can't guarantee that all of the 1,500 school employees whose contracts expire in June will be rehired.

Parent Heather Losurdo said the loss of teachers would go to the “jugular of the lifeline of learning for these kids.”

Most people at the meeting spoke in defense of the Community in Schools program, which offers tutoring and academic support to hundreds of economically at-risk students.

Positions with the CIS program have been frozen. Cutting these positions from the budget would save more than $470,000. CIS volunteers say the program’s expense is ultimately cheaper than the jails in which some at-risk students may end up without the program.

“It costs taxpayers more for prisons than to keep at-risk students in school,” CIS volunteer Ellen Dingman said.

Board of Education members said the budget is in the proposal stages. When funding from the state and county is determined, they will have a better idea what can be saved.

“Then we will be able to make decisions on these … positions we are holding. It is not that we are cutting programs at this point,” board member Beverly Clark said.

Jennifer Lanane, with the North Carolina Association of Educators in Wake County, thinks school leaders can do more.

Lanane told board members she would fight for extra money that could be available from the federal stimulus and in state funds.