Local News

Wake schools look at stimulus funds use

Posted September 15, 2009 5:31 p.m. EDT
Updated September 15, 2009 7:01 p.m. EDT

— The Wake County Public School System on Tuesday looked into how$46 million in federal stimulus funds was spread out over the county.

A portion of the funds were used to expand pre-kindergarten programs, put math coaches in 45 Title I schools, which have large numbers of students from low-income families and provide extra support to homeless students.

Officials said 75 percent of the money went to saving or creating jobs for 558 positions including classroom teachers, teacher assistants and instructional support staff. The money will be used over the next two years.

District leaders said they would have liked to use more of that money to hire the 1,500 teachers who were cut in June, but the money came with restrictions. The funds could not be used to save teacher jobs and some money had to be used to create new positions.

“I think it’s a challenge with how to deal with it. It’s like a bird in the hand now. It’s so tempting to do all these illustrious things, but we’ve got to be sensible and reasonable,” board member Eleanor Goettee said. “We’ve got to understand that in two years this funding will stop.”

While many of the teachers were hired back, there are still teachers out there without jobs, officials said.

For schools, this year has meant fewer teachers and larger class sizes.

“My concern right now is that we still have huge class sizes, especially in high school and middle school,” said Jennifer Lanane, president of the Wake branch of the North Carolina Association of Educators. “Things are not great, but we’re okay for two years and let’s just hope that something happens in two years.”