I was disappointed to see the issue of the school board's fund balance come up again in the story “Wake County District 1 opponents have similar priorities.” There are several reasons why comments about a large school board fund balance are misleading:
• Our final adopted budget shows quite clearly that our fund balance is being used appropriately to fill gaps in our original 2014-15 budget based on the final state budget.
• Our remaining unassigned fund balance will be approximately 6 percent of our operating budget which is within our policy.
• Our fund balance is “one time” money and should not be used for recurring expenses. It is like your savings, once spent it is gone.
• Virtually all local government agencies generate a fund balance each year based on careful monitoring of expenditures. For example, the county commissioners have built a fund balance over the past few years of over $300 million – roughly 10 times the size of our fund balance.
We will continue to monitor our spending to make sure every dollar is spent wisely. However, the fact remains that state funding has been cut when measured as dollars per student. Increased funding at the state level may be problematic next year based on early revenue collections. Therefore, Wake County will have to decide how important having quality schools are to our community and its future growth. It will take all of us working together to face this challenge.
Editor’s note: Tom Benton is the vice chair of the Wake County Board of Education.