Wake Ed

Wake County school board says there’s “no excuse” not to give them $39 million more

Wake County school board members are taking a no excuses attitude on their request for a $39.3 million funding increase from county commissioners to pay for employee pay raises.

As noted in today’s article, school board members were saying things Tuesday like it’s a test of the community’s political will and support for public education whether the funding increase is approved. They say their budget request is reasonable and necessary even as commissioners warn it would require an additional tax increase to provide that amount.

“As we talk about the teacher shortage, budget issues and so on, one thing I find as frustration at the hand wringing that I’ve heard,” school board member Jim Martin said. “The ‘oh my, we can’t. It can’t be done. We can’t afford it. It’s not possible. It’s hard.’

As a teacher I’ve heard all of those things from students in my class. And I think every teacher has heard those things from students, and that’s part of our vocabulary that we just don’t accept. It’s hard is not an excuse. All it means is we’ve got to figure out different strategies to get the job done.

It’s not possible. Sorry, it is possible. We’ve got to find a strategy to get the job done.

I have students who tell me they can’t afford it. Maybe they don’t need as much of a car payment as they thought they did because they’re driving a more expensive car than me. The point is you have to find a strategy to get the job done. If you want a college degree, you’re going to have to pay the tuition.

If we want a quality school system, there are no easy answers. There’s no magic bullet. There’s nothing that’s going to easily solve our problem. But as a community, we have to do the same thing we do in the classroom and not accept I can’t, not accept it’s impossible, not accept that it’s hard.

School board vice chairman Tom Benton called the budget a “watershed” moment for the community.

“We’re one of the most affluent counties, not just in North Carolina but in the whole nation,” Benton said. “Average is not good enough for us. We have the wherewithal to do better by our teachers. The question is going to be if we have the political will to do better by our teachers.”

School board member Bill Fletcher called it a “modest” budget.

“I’m not interested in having an average school district or an average quality of life,” Fletcher said. “We want to have an excellent school district to help continue to support our excellent quality of life in our community. To do that we need to make sure our teachers are going to be compensated properly.”