Wake County Schools

Reduced custodial staff, temperature changes help close WCPSS budget gap

Posted July 19, 2016 5:15 p.m. EDT
Updated July 19, 2016 8:37 p.m. EDT

— Wake County school staff on Tuesday presented a list of recommended budget cuts to close a funding gap of about $17.5 million.

School officials adopted an interim budget last month but are looking to close a deficit between the $35.7 million the district requested from legislators for their $1.5 billion budget and the $23.9 million funding increase proposed by the county.

Despite the need for cuts, school officials said they do not anticipate layoffs and have recommended an additional $3 million in funding to give a 3 percent salary increase to support staff as well as provide a one-time 0.5 percent bonus. This increase mirrors the pay raise that Wake County will provide to its employees.

"As far as the final state budget, there is some really good stuff in there," said WCPSS Chief Operations Officer David Neter. 'They really did a lot to move the teachers and their salary structure along,"

Scheduled performance pay increases for teachers who take on extra academic and athletic duties will also remain intact, school officials said.

While state funding for schools is up, school board member Kevin Hill said it still lags behind funding levels from before the recession in a year when state leaders are boasting a financial surplus.

"We've got less to deal with than we did in 2009 or 2008, when the recession came," he said. "We are still trying to dig out of the hole that we've been in all these years."

Cost-saving suggestions made at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting included:

  • Reducing custodial services by one day a week
  • Adjusting temperature settings by one degree to reduce heating and cooling costs
  • Decreasing instructional supply allotments by a small amount
  • Reducing central services contracts
  • Freezing central office vacancies for 90 days
  • Adjusting to teacher funding allotments for elementary and middle schools
  • Postponing the expansion of middle school visual and performing arts offerings
  • Reducing the transportation budget to absorb state budget reductions for transportation
  • Postponing the hiring and implementation of new Instructional Technology Facilitators

"Think about elementary teachers bringing their vacuum cleaners yet another day to keep their classrooms clean," Hill said.

The Board of Education is expected to discuss the options and vote on the final proposed budget next month.