Wake Ed

Wake County staff to recommend school budget cuts Tuesday

Green Hope High pitcher Mitch Spence sends a pitch to Holly Springs High's Cole Hoops, left, during a high school baseball game in Cary, N.C. on April 8, 2016. Wake County school administrators have previously warned that students might be charged to play sports to help deal with a budget shortfall this year.
Green Hope High pitcher Mitch Spence sends a pitch to Holly Springs High's Cole Hoops, left, during a high school baseball game in Cary, N.C. on April 8, 2016. Wake County school administrators have previously warned that students might be charged to play sports to help deal with a budget shortfall this year. newsobserver.com

Wake County families will find out Tuesday how painful it could be on them and their children to help make up a potential $15 million budget shortfall for the new school year.

During the work session, school administrators will recommend budget cuts to help deal with getting $11.8 million less than expected from county commissioners and a larger-than-expected teacher pay raise from the state. Administrators have been preparing for a shortfall of potentially $15 million.

School administrators and staff warned back in June that the cuts that would need to be made would hurt.

“We are already a very lean and efficient organization, so virtually any cut affects classrooms,” school officials said in a June press release. “That means our students, our families, and our employees will likely be affected in some way.

“We will make cuts this year,” school board Chairman Tom Benton also said in June. “Some of them will be painful.”

A list of potential cuts presented in May shows how painful things could get.

Options mentioned in May included reducing classroom supplies, cutting back on school cleanings, raising class sizes and withholding planned raises for teachers who do extra duties such as coach athletic teams. Staff has also listed options for higher fees such as charging students to play sports, raising the cost of student parking and increasing employee dental premiums.

At the time, staff warned that the cuts might be needed if full funding wasn’t provided by the county. The warning didn’t work as the Wake County Board of Commissioners voted in June to give $23.9 million of the $35.7 million increase requested by the school board.

Staff wants board feedback Tuesday on what cuts to use with the official vote coming in August when the 2016-17 budget is adjusted. The school board had adopted an interim budget June 21 because the state budget, which provides the majority of the district’s funding, hadn’t been adopted yet.

Also during the work session, staff will talk about how the district is trying to promote community engagement through the strategic plan.

During the regular meeting, the school board will vote on revising the 2016-17 calendars so that all schools are on a two-hour delay on Election Day. Between 50 and 60 schools serve as polling places so the later start is supposed to help with the morning traffic as people vote.

The board is also scheduled to vote on a contract paying $620,000 over the next three years to the Friday Institute to provide professional development to school district staff.

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