Raleigh News and Observer editorial: Wake Schools Leader Boldly Seeks Big Boost in Budget
Raleigh News & Observer op-ed by Tom Oxholm, former WCPSS Board member: It’s Time for Wake to Combat NC Education Atrocities at the County Level
“It is axiomatic that a high-functioning, successful school system is a positive economic driver for the county. We look forward to enhancing our role as an economic contributor in this county, all the while improving the successes and opportunities for every child.”
- Dr. James Merrill, Superintendent, Wake County Public Schools
It is important to note that, between 2008-09 and 2013-14, the local county appropriation dropped by 6% while student growth increased by almost 11%. In his introductory comments to the School Board on March 18, 2014, Superintendent Merrill noted: “We must return to that level of academic success, prominence, creativity, and innovation. We cannot do so by letting growth alone consume all additional funding. Maintaining a level of funding for growth alone needs to be set as a non-negotiable minimum starting point. This community expects our schools to increase our graduation rates, diminish achievement gaps, and increase grade level proficiencies.”
At the same March meeting, WCPSS Chief Business Officer David Neter presented a first look at the Superintendent’s Proposed 2014 – 2015 Budget. The budget requests an increase of $39 million in County appropriations and reflects two major goals. By 2020, WCPSS will:
- have the highest local investment for students in NC (an additional $400 per student)
- pay its teachers at the national average of teacher salaries (an additional $130 million over the next five years)
The Wake County Public School System is the second largest employer in the county. For fiscal year 2013-14, the total proposed budget is $1.834 billion. Of that figure, $1.373 billion represents the operating budget. The remaining dollars represent the school building program that is funded through taxpayer bonds.
Budget priorities include:
- $930k in literacy initiatives (p. 188)
- $1.75m in targeted elementary school funds for differentiated resourcing (p. 183)
- $305k in targeted High School Intervention Coordinators (p.197)
- $1.7m expansion of Pre-K services (p.123, 125, 127)
- $610k 2nd year phased implementation of Technology Facilitators (p.193)
- $150k start-up planning & professional development funding for Knightdale Education Working Group
- 3.5 % salary locally funded salary increase for all employees
The proposed budget assumes that there will be an additional 3,000 students in 2014-15.
A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for April 8, 2014 in the Board Room at Crossroads I, 5625 Dillard Drive, Cary .
The budget will be discussed further in Board work sessions, with a goal of adopting a final budget no later than May 6, 2014.
Here is a year-to-year summary comparison of the approved 2013-14 and proposed 2014-15 WCPSS budgets:
|Total Budget (billions)||1.378||1.833|
|Total Operating Budget (billions)||1.308||1.373|
What’s the Budget Cycle?
- The Superintendent shall prepare an annual budget and submit it with a budget message to the Board of Education (BOE) not later than April 15.
- The BOE shall hold at least one public hearing on the proposed budget prior to final action.
- The BOE must submit the entire approved budget to the Board of Commissioners (BOC) not later than May 15 (or such later date as may be fixed by the BOC. The BOC shall complete action on the school budget on or before July 1, or such later date as may be agreeable to the BOE.
- If adoption of the budget is delayed until after July 1, the Board shall make interim appropriations for the purpose of paying salaries and the usual ordinary expenses of the school system for the interval between the beginning of the fiscal year and the adoption of the budget resolution.
What You Can Do to Advocate for Funding
- Review the Superintendent’s 2013-2014 Proposed Budget and any adjustments made to the Proposed Budget. (We’ll make the adjustments available.)
- Speak up at Board of Education meetings and public hearings
- Attend a Board of Commissioners budget presentation, participate in a public hearing
Important dates for the 2014-15 budgeting cycle:
Board of Education Meetings:
- April 8 - Budget work session – LINK TO QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS DISCUSSED AT THE MEETING
- April 8 - Public Hearing, 6:00pm (time subject to change)
- April 22 - Budget work session, an opportunity for the Board to receive answers to their questions and direct changes to the proposed budget
- April 29 - Budget work session (if needed)
- May 6 - Final approval of the Board’s proposed budget, if not approved earlier
- May 15 - Board’s proposed budget must be delivered to Wake County
Wake Co. Board of Commissioners Meetings:
- June 2 - County Commission Public Hearing, 7:00pm
- June 9 - County Commission work session
- June 16 - County Commission votes on budget