Wake County Schools Superintendent Jim Merrill isn’t being shy about asking for what he wants from the county commissioners.
In the 2014-15 budget proposal presented today, Merrill is asking the commissioners for $365.7 million – a $39 million increase in the current appropriation. Most of that increase – $29.1 million – would go toward providing all school employees a 3.5 percent local pay raise.
Other items in the budget proposal include $1.8 million to expand pre-kindergarten services, $1.7 million in additional funding for high-poverty elementary schools, $930,000 to hire more literacy coaches to work with teachers and $304,000 to hire intervention counselors at high schools where the graduation rate is below 80 percent.
"I know that this community is willing to stand up and support this system’s needs,” Merrill said as he introduced the budget.
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But what’s not in the budget is funding to continue the Renaissance Schools program once the federal Race to the Top grant money runs out at the end of the school year. While the schools will keep the additional technology and staff training they got, they will lose the teacher merit pay program and the additional staffing they had received.
It’s possible that the Renaissance Schools might qualify for some of that $1.7 million pot for high-poverty schools, but there’s no guarantee.