Wake school leaders consider stopgap budget

Posted June 12, 2014 12:29 p.m. EDT

School Funding (Generic)

— Uncertainty at the county and state levels has leaders on the Wake County Board of Education considering whether they need to pass an interim budget in order to make a June 30 deadline.

State law requires that the school district and state government approve a budget before the beginning of the new fiscal year July 1, but school board leaders are worried that their $1.37 billion proposal for 2014-15 won't be fully funded.

The bulk of the district’s funding – 59 percent – comes from the state, where the House and Senate are considering various proposals to fund a salary increase for North Carolina teachers.

County funding makes up about third of the total public schools budget.

Superintendent Jim Merrill asked county commissioners for $365.7 million in 2014-15, an increase of $29 million over last year. That money would increase in per pupil spending by $400, to $9,001, and allow for a 3.5 percent pay increase for teachers and staff.

County commissioners responded with a plan that allotted $337.7 million to schools, for a gap of $28 million.

Board Chair Christine Kushner and Vice Chair Tom Benton said the Board of Education would discuss an interim budget option at its work session next Tuesday, a day after the county commissioners are scheduled to approve their budget.

"The State Senate and House proposals as well as the proposed Wake County budget actually leaves us with less program money than we have today," Kushner said in a statement.

Wake County Manager Jim Hartmann said he wants to wait to see how the legislature handles teacher raises before committing any county money.