In his first budget as Wake County manager, Jim Hartmann proposed a $10.2 million increase for Wake County schools, but it’s not enough to cover an increase in the supplemental pay for teachers.
The $1.06 billion budget includes a 4.4-cent tax increase to fund construction projects for the district. Wake residents approved the increase in November as part of a $810-million bond referendum. The increase is .46 cents less than what was expecting when the vote took place.
The proposed budget is 8 percent more than the current budget, marking the first time a Wake County budget has exceeded the $1 billion mark.
No Teacher Raises
Despite calls from education advocates and supporters, the budget doesn’t include an increase in the county’s contribution toward teacher salaries.
In March, new Wake Schools Superintendent Jim Merrill presented his budget, which included a $39 million increase that would, in part, fund a 3.5-percent across-the-board raise for Wake County teachers.
The funding increase would also expand the pre-kindergarten program and literacy initiatives in all grades.
Hartmann’s proposed budget, however, included a 3 percent increase, or $10.2 million, in funding for those programs, but it does not cover the money needed to pay for the teacher raises.
Hartmann said that since Gov. Pat McCrory’s announcement to increase teacher salaries, county staff decided to wait and see if those raises are implemented before considering an increase to the county’s teacher supplement.
Most of the money to pay teacher salaries comes from the state, but counties can supplement that funding to increase pay for public school teachers.
“The process isn’t over,” Hartmann told reporters after the meeting. He said his meetings with Merrill continue and teacher supplements are part on an ongoing discussion.
The current teacher supplement averages $6,200 per teacher.
During the public comment period, which took place before the budget presentation, more than 10 people spoke in favor of the funding increase, citing low teacher salaries as the reason for high turnover.
Amy Womble, one of the speakers, read a letter written by a Wake special education teacher. “Teachers are not asking for bonuses,” she read. “We’re asking for a very modest cost of living increase.”
Wake Tech is also slated for some additional funding. The proposed budget includes a $287,000 increase. The additional funds will be used to fund the start-up costs at the new Vernon Malone College and Career Academy.
The proposed budget increases funding for environmental health inspectors by $140,000. This is more than a 12-percent increase since prior to the recession.
The Wake County EMS System is budgeted for an additional $950,000 for four new positions and equipment replacement.
An additional $2.5 million will be used to maintain the 36 positions that were created earlier this year to manage the NC Fast program. It also funds five additional customer service representatives.
If the budget is adopted, county employees will receive an average 2.75 percent merit raise increase in October.
WakeGov.com for the full budget
Budget@wakegov.com for email comments
June 2, 2 p.m. at the Justice Center and at 7 p.m. at the Wake County Commons
June 9, 9 a.m.
June 16, 2 p.m.