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Job cuts coming to Wake County schools

Wake County schools Superintendent Del Burns says the cuts are needed after the economy made it difficult to sell government bonds in which the proceeds were earmarked to build new schools.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The Wake County Board of Education on Tuesday approved the beginning of a three-part plan to phase out up to 37 positions over the next several months – many tied to construction projects.
Under the first phase of the plan, eight employees will be laid off, and 14 vacant positions will also be eliminated, Wake County Public Schools Superintendent Del Burns said.

Burns told board members the cuts were necessary after the economy made it difficult to sell government bonds in which the proceeds were earmarked to build new schools.

There are currently 90 non-certified positions that are fully or partially funded by the bond program.

Thirteen positions that are cut are vacant. Another one will become vacant later this summer when an employee retires. Those cuts will save the school system an estimated $800,000, not including benefits.

It's unclear how much money the layoffs will save because the school board has not determined what positions to cut.

"It includes project planners, managers, in some cases," Burns said. "In some cases, it's folks in business areas that support bond-funded programs."

Burns said he also anticipates the need to eliminate as many as 10 to 15 other positions by October 2009. If the budget situation hasn't improved, more cuts are likely in 2010.

The school construction bonds were approved two years ago when the school system expected to need nearly a dozen new schools to accommodate the growing student population.

But the economy has forced the school system to slow its school construction, which has meant the need to cut positions, Burns said.

"It's very challenging," Burns said. "We're looking at the resources. We're looking at the work that's necessary, based on the schedule."

Wake County's proposed budget cuts district funding by $3 million in the 2009-10 school year.

School officials said expenses must be reduced by 5 percent but left it up to administrators at individual schools to decide what to cut.

Lawmakers continue to work on a state budget, but House committees have recommended slashing education funding by $1.8 billion to help erase a projected $4.5 billion deficit.


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