Wake Ed

Wake County school board wants more focus on arts funding

Instructor Daniel Jarvis at left leads his concert band II class of Apex High school students through their music in a very cramped band rehearsal room January 28, 2016. Wake County school board members say they’d like to look at increasing arts funding in the 2016-17 operating budget.
Instructor Daniel Jarvis at left leads his concert band II class of Apex High school students through their music in a very cramped band rehearsal room January 28, 2016. Wake County school board members say they’d like to look at increasing arts funding in the 2016-17 operating budget. hlynch@newsobserver.com

Wake County school board members gave Superintendent Jim Merrill an idea this week of what areas they’d like him to focus on in the upcoming 2016-17 fiscal year budget.

More arts funding and differentiated resources for schools were both cited by board members when they split into two small groups on Tuesday. Some of the ideas may be incorporated into the budget that Merrill presents to the school board on March 15.

A review issued in November indicated that Wake County school arts funding is less than half of its level of 16 years ago, forcing parents and students to spend more of their own money to make up the budget shortfall.

Wake County’s arts education budget is at $113,000. It was at $300,000 in the 1999-00 school year.

Board members said Tuesday they want the district to review the amount provided for the arts, including what standard should be set for offerings at schools.

Differentiated resourcing, in which some schools would get less so those with higher needs would get more, was also brought up.

Other ideas mentioned Tuesday include:

▪ Providing a full-time social worker and smaller class sizes at schools where at least 60 percent of students receive subsidized lunches;

▪ More school choice models in and around Central Wake, essentially the old Raleigh City school system;

▪ More funding to recruit minority teachers to make the workforce more representative of student enrollment;

▪ Creating a middle school equivalent of the Elementary Support Model program to provide additional help to challenged schools;

▪ Providing more supplies for classrooms so teachers don’t have to spend their own funds;

▪ Creating daycare options in and near schools for teachers;

▪ Reducing the amount of student testing;

▪ Increaing funding for foreign language instruction in elementary schools;

▪ Increasing support for use of technology in instruction;

▪ Expanding pre-kindergarten services.

In the end, what’s actually offered this fall will depend on the amount provided by the state, the Wake County Board of Commissioners and the federal government.

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