Wake schools chief Burns retains job for now

staff writerMarch 2, 2010 

— Wake County schools superintendent Del Burns kept his job today, but board members may address his status again before his previously announced resignation on June 30, they said after adjourning a second closed meeting on his role.

When asked whether Burns is still superintendent, Chairman Ron Margiotta smiled and motioned to the chair where Burns was occupying his customary seat at today's protracted board meeting.

“I plan on working through June 30 and doing what I do every day, which is work for the benefit of the children of Wake County,” Burns said during an afternoon break. “That's what I've done for the past 30 years.”

School board attorney Ann Majestic said that nothing that happened during the closed meetings changed Burns' situation. However, some board members said no final decision has been made.

"We have not reached a final conclusion on it yet," said Debra Goldman, vice chairman of the board.

Burns referred questions about possible further action to the board.

Last month, Burns announced his resignation effective June 30, but ran afoul of the new school board majority by openly criticizing some of their planned changes in the 140,000-student system, resulting in the closed meetings on his status. He had accused some members of engaging in political partisanship.

Also today, the nine-member board will begin consideration of the system's billion-dollar-plus budget. Burns said today that board members will have to deal with a $21 million funding shortfall that will create layoffs in non-school-based positions. Staff have not made calculations based on the cost of the new board's proposed changes to the system, Burns said.

The budget proposal includes cuts to Project Enlightenment, a school system program that provides services to children from birth through kindergarten. Parents, preschool directors are lobbying the school system to not make any cuts in the popular early childhood intervention program.

Also on today's packed agenda are consideration of a resolution on a new system of community-based assignment to replace the current socioeconomic basis for assignments, a decision on whether to convert four year-round schools to traditional calendar schedules and a proposal to approve the Civitas Institute as a provider of training for school board members.

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