Wake Ed

Wake County school board to plan next step in budget fight

Gary Hooker Jr. reads his book, “Gary Sees History: A Child’s Journey” to students at Bugg Elementary School in Raleigh. The Wake County school budget request includes money to fund a new magnet theme at Bugg.
Gary Hooker Jr. reads his book, “Gary Sees History: A Child’s Journey” to students at Bugg Elementary School in Raleigh. The Wake County school budget request includes money to fund a new magnet theme at Bugg. Courtesy of Gary Hooker

Expect a lot of less than thrilled reactions from Wake County school board members on Tuesday as they deal with the possibility of getting $29 million less in new local funding than they requested this year.

The school board requested a $45.2 million increase this year from the Wake County Board of Commissioners. But on Monday, County Manager Jim Hartmann proposed a $16 million increase, only about a third of what the school board wants.

“How can we remotely begin to fund what we need with $16 million more?” said school board Chairwoman Monika Johnson-Hostler.

The funding difference is sure to be discussed during the school board’s budget work session on Tuesday.

Hartmann says the school system is only projected to spend $406.8 million of the $428.2 million in local funds it will get this fiscal year. He says using the combination of the $21 million in projected unspent local funds and the $16 million in recommended new local funding will get the school board close to what it wants this year.

Also during the work session, staff will discuss the process and timeline for developing the 2018-19 student assignment plan. Factors that will affect the plan include the new lower K-3 class sizes coming in 2018 and changes to the year-round school application process.

Also up in the air is whether the school board will approve calendar changes at nine schools for the 2018-19 school year.

Before things get too depressing at the work session, Enloe High School drama students will perofrm excerpts from the play “We the People.”

At the regular meeting:

▪ The school board is scheduled to vote on a 10-cent increase in the price for school lunches for the 2017-18 school year to comply with federal regulations and to deal with a drop in revenue from fewer students buying meals and snacks.

This price hike would come after a 25-cent increase in lunch was adopted last year.

▪ The school board is scheduled to give initial approval to a policy revision that clarifies that school resource officers only have special access to talk with students when they’re doing their SRO duties.

The change is being made in part to reassure the immigrant community that school resource officers won’t use their positions to help deport students or their families

▪ The school board is scheduled to approve changes to 2017-18 school calendars so that students will get an early release day on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The revised calendars would also end the use of some early release days as snow makeup days.

The board already agreed to stop using early release days as makeup days and to let students get off early on Thanksgiving week for the 2018-19 school year.

▪ The board is scheduled to give initial approval to revisions in the Code of Student Conduct that include beginning it with a section about the role of staff, students, parents and community partners in promoting positive school climates.

The changes also say that students shouldn’t be suspended for Level I offenses unless there’s been at least two in-school interventions during the year and there’s a repeated pattern of violations.

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