Wake schools to lose $5.5M under new state budget

tgoldsmith@newsobserver.comJuly 23, 2013 

  • Names near for new Wake high schools

    Wake County school board members meeting Tuesday agreed to vote in two weeks on names for three new high schools, with likely choices emerging as Southwest Cary, South Garner and Friendship Apex.

    Members agreed to vote on those proposed names at the Aug. 6 meeting. The additional two weeks will give members time to gather additional community feedback, said board chairman Keith Sutton

    In Tuesday’s afternoon work session, members discussed the desirability of naming high schools after specific municipalities, when students might be coming from other areas. However, consensus appeared to land on the value of having schools closely identified with the largest nearby town.

    "As we try to have communities more invested in our schools, the high schools take on a whole other level," board member John Tedesco said. "It’s helpful down the road as we are building those relationships."

    In 2011, the board recommended that a new school near Apex be called West Apex High School. After hearing from the historic Friendship community, Sutton said, the board will considerate a designation combining the names Apex and Friendship.

— Wake County schools will likely lose about $5.5 million in operating funds based on the new state budget nearing approval in the General Assembly, the schools’ chief financial officer told school board members Tuesday.

Cuts in instructional support, classroom teachers and teaching assistants will be partly offset by roughly $35 million in discretionary funding that had been held back by the state in recent years, but will be supplied in the new fiscal year, said David Neter, chief business officer.

Schools administrators said they will attempt to adjust funding from other sources to prevent overall losses in classroom positions. The system gets roughly $700 million from the state, with the rest from county and federal sources.

"It’s one more funding reduction," Neter said.

Noting that Wake’s annual per-pupil spending has declined steadily in recent years, board member Bill Fletcher asked whether the latest state cuts would reduce that figure further.

Neter said it’s likely: the rough figure of a $5.5 million cut, combined with a projected increase of thousands of students would bring that result. However, the system has to wait for its specific allotment from the state Department of Public Instruction to give exact figures.

The budget includes increases in payments for students to take ACT tests and for school security. Board member Deborah Prickett applauded the money for testing.

"That has helped so many students, especially in rural parts of the state, for kids that just don’t have the money to take that kind of test," Prickett said.

One of the most potentially troublesome parts of the budget for Wake is the lack of a raise for teachers, whose pay has been increased only once, by 1.2 percent, since 2008.

"When you figure inflation in, they’re making less than they did in 2008," Neter said.

Goldsmith: 919-829-8929

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