Wake County Schools

Wake schools hopes to 'work magic' to prevent layoffs

Posted July 23, 2013 10:07 p.m. EDT
Updated July 23, 2013 11:25 p.m. EDT

— The Wake County Public School System said Tuesday that the proposed state budget would leave them with a $5.5 million hole in funding for teachers and teacher assistants, but they hope to move money around to avoid layoffs. 

David Neter, chief financial officer for Wake schools, said after Tuesday night's school board meeting that, despite earlier projections that the district would have to cut 400 teacher assistant jobs, his staff is trying to "work our magic" to prevent a reduction in force.

But the Board of Education said it's still concerned about a downward trend in per-student spending. In 2008, Wake County spent $8,060 per pupil. In 2012, that figure was down to about $7,650.

"What message are we sending when our investment in our children and students continues to dwindle?" asked school board Chairman Keith Sutton. 

Lawmakers are expected to give final approval Wednesday to the $20.6 billion spending plan, which leaves North Carolina ranked 46th in the country in per-pupil spending and 48th in the country for teacher pay. It spends less on K-12 education than the House's initial budget proposal and falls short on Gov. Pat McCrory's recommendation to provide raises for teachers in 2013-14.

School board members said they were disappointed not to see the salary increase.

"If you want to treat them like one of the most important professions in the world, you have to pay them like that," said board member John Tedesco. 

School system leaders are still waiting on final allotments from the state, which will help them determine precisely how the district budget will be affected. 

Also at Tuesday's school board meeting, members decided to wait before selling a 5.5-acre tract of land at 3600 Wake Forest Road, which formerly served as the central offices for the school system, for $5.1 million. School board members said the offer was simply too low.

The board will revisit the offer to purchase the property, which was recently appraised at $6.8 million, in 100 days. The potential buyer was not disclosed. 

They also voted to offer $100 bonuses to current teachers who refer a special education teacher, resulting in a hire. The district currently has 50 vacancies for special education teachers.