Wake County school board members agree they want to ask for more state funding, but something they’re not as sure of is requesting state approval for taxing authority.
The school board’s government relations committee was in agreement Monday with most parts of the N.C. School Boards Association’s draft agenda for next year’s long session of the General Assembly. This includes calling for more general state funding for education and more state funding specifically for teacher pay, teacher assistants, the state’s pre-kindergarten program, school technology, driver’s education and school construction.
But Wake school board members were uncomfortable with the section calling on the General Assembly to pass legislation that would allow the transfer of local taxing authority for education from county boards of commissioners to school boards.
School board member Susan Evans said that while it’s not been a perfect scenario in recent years, there’s something to be said for the checks and balances in having the school board request funding from the commissioners.
School board member Bill Fletcher said “the waters are not right” to push for school boards to receive taxing authority.
“I think it would be ideal for the school board to have taxing authority,” Fletcher said. “I don’t think it’s politically feasible at this point in time. So if we’ve got a bucket of good will to spend, I don’t see we need to spend any of it on this right now. I just don’t see now as the time to do it.”
School board member Keith Sutton, who chairs the government relations committee, said he agreed with Fletcher as it would generate a big fight with the commissioners. He said it would be just like how the school board didn’t like it when the commissioners tried last year to take school construction authority away from the district.
Sutton also said it could be a case of “be careful of what you ask for.”
While agreeing it’s not the right time, Fletcher said it’s still an “anomaly” how North Carolina school boards don’t have taxing authority. According to the NCSBA, 90 percent of the nation’s 15,000 school boards have taxing authority.
Over the years, the Wake County school board has taken positions on both sides of whether or not to request taxing authority.