Wake County Democrats criticize vote on school funding

Posted by T. Keung Hui on June 16, 2014 

The Wake County Democratic Party and two of the party’s candidates for the Board of Commissioners are criticizing the decision today to not give teachers a bigger pay raise.

The Wake County Board of Commissioners agreed to give teachers an average raise of $237 – using $3.75 million in funds from excess liquor sales – instead of the $29.1 million plan from the school board to give all employees a 3.5-percent raise. The vote was 6-1 with two Democrats joining the Republican majority in adopting the new budget.

The statements show how much school funding could be an issue in this fall’s elections. Four seats held by Republican commissioners will be on the November ballot.

Here’s the statement from Dan Blue III, chairman of the Wake County Democratic Party:

“Last year, the Wake County Board of Commissioners and the Wake County Board of Education compromised and asked the voters of Wake County for a 4.86 cents increase on property taxes to support education. By a wide margin, the voters of Wake County approved that increase because we believed it to be necessary and proper then, and we know it to be necessary and proper now.

The budget passed today ignores the voters and replaces their judgment with the judgment of the GOP majority on the county commission. This budget leaves $5.8 million, which could have helped teachers and schools and had been approved by the voters, off the table. Even after the voters have demanded more, this GOP majority has joined with its allies in the General Assembly to short-change our schools. We can do better and the voters of Wake County will have another chance this November to show their support for public education by replacing the GOP majority on our county commission.“

Here’s the statement from John Burns, who is running against Republican Commissioner Paul Coble:

“Today, the County Commissioners adopted a budget despite having no clear indication from the General Assembly of what the State's budget will look like. The adopted County budget shortchanges children and teachers by ignoring the Superintendent's request that the County reverse years of neglect of our school system. Instead, the budget uses one-time temporary funds to provide our teachers with another $20 a month. While it is good that the commissioners recognized that Wake County needs to pay its teachers more, this budget is not sufficient. Wake County is hemorrhaging qualified teachers. This budget puts a band-aid on the wound, but does nothing to stop the bleeding.

Wake County can and should do better.”

Here’s the statement from Matt Calabria, who is running against Republican Phil Matthews, chairman of the board of commissioners:

“We can't give our children a great education without providing great teachers. That’s common sense. But the recent spike in Wake County teacher resignations shows that our teachers and students are suffering under this state legislature and the current majority on the Wake County Commission. Today, the Commission missed an opportunity to improve working conditions for our teachers and learning conditions for our students. Teacher pay is not the only issue facing our schools, and the small pay hike our teachers will receive is a fraction of what our superintendent says we need to stay competitive. This budget is not a long-term solution to our teacher retention problem. It's an election-year gesture from a Commission majority that’s under fire from the citizens they represent. Wake County needs leadership every year, not just in election years.”

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