As the fiscal year ending June 30th draws to a close, many budget questions remain for the Wake County Public School System.
Local funding decisions are still in process. Wake County Manager Jim Hartmann has proposed a budget to the Wake County Commissioners. Two public hearings were held on June 1, and many spoke in support of providing the full $48.3 million increase requested by the Wake County Board of Education. Hartmann’s budget proposed providing $34.6 million, and the additional funding would require an extra penny tax increase on top of the almost three cent tax increase proposed. The county commissioners meet on Monday, June 8 for a budget work session, and will likely adopt a budget on Monday, June 15.
State funding decisions are still in process. The House budget made use of a $400 million surplus recognized in state revenues. It funded student growth, Driver Education, and teacher assistants, as well as increased funds for textbooks and digital resources. It also provided a 2 percent salary increase for all teachers and non-certified support staff and boosted beginning teacher salary from $33,000 to $35,000. In total, the overall House budget presents a 5 percent recurring increase.
Chief Business Officer David Neter briefed the Board of Education Tuesday on what might be expected from the Senate budget. Many questions remain, but early comments have criticized the House budget’s 5 percent increase in funding, and Neter noted that the Senate budget may provide an overall increase of closer to 3 percent. What will be provided with regard to overall student growth, Driver Education, salary increases, and teacher assistants? No one knows yet.
This means that WCPSS will likely start the year with an interim budget. Neter noted that cuts in the House budget to school transportation items could result in a $3.25 million budget gap increase. And that would be added to the current $13.7 million funding gap seen in the proposed county budget.
The gaps place at risk some of the largest items in the Board of Education budget: salary increases for teachers, support personnel, school administrators, and extra-duty positions. And this is only if the gap isn’t closed at the county funding level. Additional gaps are possible with the Senate budget.
WakeEd spoke at the county hearings this week. Our position statement is available here.