RALEIGH — Wake school board members and county commissioners reviewed the bleak state of the economy today that could cost hundreds of teachers and other school employees their jobs.
County Manager David Cooke said he’s recommending giving $3.3 million less than what the school system wants for the upcoming fiscal year because more money isn’t available.
Schools Superintendent Del Burns added that the school district is bracing for a state funding cut of $40 million or more that’s expected to result in some school employees not being rehired.
“Everybody realizes that the economy is in a really tough place,” said Kevin Hill, vice chairman of the school board. "In this recession the county commissions and the school board have to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”
The recession has sharply cut back on the amount of money that the state and county is collecting. The state provides 60 percent of the school district’s funding while the county provides 33 percent.
With the state revenue shortfall potentially reaching $4.5 billion, the 5 percent state funding cut that the school district has been preparing for might not be enough. Burns told commissioners he can’t say how many teachers won’t be rehired because he need to know the final budget numbers from the state and where the cuts will be targeted.
“We’re going to have fewer teachers next year,” Hill said.
With the economy taking such a hit, the reaction from school board members on the proposed county budget was more muted than in past year.
School board member Beverley Clark said they should be able to absorb the $3.3 million reduction by taking from the $9 million in projected state employee pay raises that school budget planners had built into the budget. It’s looking unlikely that the state will approve pay raises for school employees.
But Harold Webb, chairman of the board of commissioners, said they might need to redo their budget priorities to fully fund the school board’s request. But with commissioners agreeing not raise property taxes, providing more money to the school system would mean taking it from someone else’s budget.