Wake schools face budget cuts next year

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Wake schools could face a 5 to 10 percent cut in funding from the state next year. The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction presented its projected budget reductions to Wake County Schools at the Board of Education’s work session Tuesday.

The budget preview gives the school board an idea of what a 5 or 10 percent budget reduction could look like.

The DPI’s figures are representative of state funds and resources only, which account for about two-thirds of Wake’s funding. The rest of the funds are allotted by the Wake County Board of Commissioners and in the past the county has often been able to pick up the slack in state funding.

Board chair Ron Margiotta said, “Maybe we’ve been chasing the wrong rabbit,” referring to the Board of Education asking the county for more funds instead of the state.

In a supplemental part of the budget report, which was presented by the school’s Chief Business Officer David Neter, North Carolina ranked 42nd in the country in per pupil spending.
“It’s horrible!” said board member Anne McLaurin. “Mr. Neter tells us we’re already operating at our most efficient capacity,” McLaurin added in reference to budget cuts over the past two years, which the DPI factored into Wake’s budget reductions.

Board member Keith Sutton pushed the board members to come to a consensus on where they’d like to see North Carolina and particularly Wake County- which is in the bottom quarter of counties for per pupil spending in the state- on that list. Other board members resisted saying that moving up the list was an unlikely prospect, given the state’s economic situation.

“It appears to be several years down the road, before we’ll see any recovery,” said John Tedesco. “The economic crisis is having a ripple effect on county and state governments.”

“Would I like more money? Of course I would.” continued Tedesco. Echoing the comments of the GOP-lead county commissioners, Tedesco said, “Households are reshaping their budgets and we need to be looking at being more effective before asking for more money.”

“It’s an extreme comment but these cuts will amount to academic genocide,” said board member Kevin Hill. “We’re going to hurt a generation of kids with this funding. I consider a generation to be a whole set of kids, K-12. To me this is abhorrent.”

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