Wake County school board holding news conference to lobby for more local funding

Posted by T. Keung Hui on June 12, 2014 

UPDATE: Click here to view the online story from the news conference.

The Wake County school board is holding a news conference Thursday to put some last-minute lobbying on the county commissioners to approve their request for a 3.5 percent pay raise for all school employees.

The school district sent out a press release announcing that the board will have to consider an interim budget on Tuesday because of uncertainty about the state budget and “a plan by Wake County commissioners that falls short of requested funding makes it impossible to prepare a full-year budget at this time.”

The school board has asked the Wake County Board of Commissioners for a $39.3 million increase, with $29.1 million going to the pay raises. But County Manager Jim Hartmann is only recommending a $10.2 million increase.

The commissioners are currently discussing a smaller $3.75 million plan to give a one-time pay boost to teachers only by using money from liquor sales. The commissioners are scheduled to adopt the budget Monday.

Here’s the press release:

Wake school board to consider interim budget; Chair urges more county support for local schools.

Faced with uncertain funding at a time when Wake County schools are trying to fill unprecedented teacher vacancies for the coming academic year, the Wake County Board of Education will consider an interim budget at its next meeting June 17.

State law requires that school boards approve a budget by June 30. However, competing state budget proposals and a plan by Wake County commissioners that falls short of requested funding makes it impossible to prepare a full-year budget at this time.

“The State Senate and House proposals as well as the proposed Wake County budget actually leaves us with less program money than we have today," said Board Chair Christine Kushner. “This is occurring, unfortunately, at a time when we are gaining students but losing teachers in record numbers.”

Kushner and Vice Chair Tom Benton are asking county commissioners to fully support the budget that the School Board adopted for next year. If the county commissioners fully funded the school bond authorized by voters in the fall, additional funds could be freed up to help meet school needs in the coming year.

As Wake County and its student population continue to grow, per pupil funding continues to decrease. Without adequate support, academic, transportation, and support services will continue to be strained.

“The voters of Wake County have made their support of schools clear,” Benton said. “We need to honor that request by doing a better job of funding our schools.”

The most recent proposal by county commissioners proposes an increase of approximately $247 per year for teachers. It provides no additional support for teacher assistants, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, custodians, or other support personnel.

County commissioners are scheduled to approve a budget for the coming year on Monday, June 16. The Wake County Board of Education is scheduled to discuss the need for an interim budget at its work session June 17.

The chair of the Wake County Board of Education will be available for media questions at 2 p.m. today at the school system offices, 5625 Dillard Drive, Cary NC 27518

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