Local News

Wake school board adopts budget; passes new schedule

Posted March 31, 2009 4:18 p.m. EDT
Updated April 1, 2009 4:34 p.m. EDT

Wake County Public School System

— The Wake County Board of Education approved next year’s total budget of $1.7 billion during a meeting Tuesday. The board also agreed to dismiss public school students an hour early each Wednesday starting in July to allow more planning time for teachers.

The operating budget, including $115,000 in additional cuts, passed with a 6-to-2 vote. The board will reduce school bus purchases from 17 to 13, postpone hiring for a new school on Forestville Road in northeast Wake County and remove board member fee increases.

Superintendent Del Burns also agreed not to take his contracted 3-percent salary increase – about $8,100 – to help with the budget. Burns is paid around $280,000 yearly.

"In this time of uncertainty, certainly I need to do, as we all do, our part and it is important to me to make that decision," Burns said.

Burns' budget proposal for the 2009-10 school year includes no increase in county funds from the $316 million provided this school year. However, the district will add three new schools and 2,300 more students.

The board budget now goes to the Board of Commissioners who will approve a county budget and establish the county tax rate for 2009-10 that will include the school system operating budget. But commissioners might offer less money to the school system due to a projected budget shortfall of at least $23 million.

Board members are considering various money-saving measures, including increasing class sizes to reduce the number of teachers needed, eliminating some high school electives and ordering employees to do away with personal heaters, fans and coffee makers to cut electricity costs.

The school district also plans to keep in place a hiring freeze on administrative positions, and Burns has made last year's $11 million in state and local cuts permanent.

Burns has ordered principals to fill no more than 95 percent of their openings. That means some of the nearly 1,500 teachers and school employees whose contracts expire at the end of June could lose their jobs.

No decision on those jobs will be made "until we know exactly where we stand with our state funding, our county funding, and with our federal funding,” board member Beverly Clark said.

Some parents with children at Leesville Middle School told board members reversing a decision to convert from a traditional calendar to a year-round schedule could save $250,000.

"This savings could prevent other possible cuts, such as staff positions or programs for at-risk children,” parent Eric Blau said.

However, board member Patti Head said those savings may be inflated and that the change is necessary.

"The campus as a whole is overcrowded. By going to a year-round calendar at the middle school, we can accommodate more students,” Head said.

New 2009-10 school schedule approved

The school board also approved a new 2009-10 school schedule on Tuesday that adds 10 minutes to the school day and provides one hour early dismissal on Wednesdays. On six of those Wednesdays, school will release 2.5 hours early.

The change aims to give teachers more instructional time to help improve academic performance.

Under the new schedule, elementary schools that start at 7:45 a.m. would end 10 minutes later at 2:25 p.m. The majority of elementary schools would start 10 minutes earlier at 9:05 a.m. Schools that currently start at 8:30 a.m. would start at 8:20 a.m.

Middle schools that begin at 7:30 a.m. would end 10 minutes later at 2:25 p.m. Middle schools that start at 8:15 a.m. would begin 10 minutes earlier at 8:05 a.m.

High schools that start at 7:25 a.m. would end 10 minutes later at 2:25 p.m. Schools that start at 8:05 a.m. would begin 10 minutes earlier at 7:55 a.m.

School schedule change

Do you agree with the proposal to release Wake County schools an hour early once a week? 
proposal to release Wake County schools an hour early once a week? " /> Yes. It benefits students and teachers.
No. Varied schedules inconvenience families.

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