CARY: Wake schools approves interim budget as it waits for NC - FOX Carolina 21

Wake schools approves interim budget as it waits for NC

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CARY, N.C. -

The Wake County Board of Education approved an interim budget Tuesday that will keep the system paying its bills until lawmakers can pass a final state budget.

During a work session Tuesday afternoon, Wake County Public School System budget analyst David Netter told the board that no matter what version of the budget passes, there will be funding gaps that will require tough choices.

In the worst case, Netter said, "We could see reduction in force."

In April, the Wake County school board approved a $1.37 billion budget that included a 3.5 percent increase for all WCPSS employees. To fund the raises, WCPSS had asked for an additional $39 million in funding for employee raises from the county, but the county budget approved Monday does not include the 3.5 percent increase -- leaving a $29 million gap.

County Manager Jim Hartmann had said he wanted to wait and see what kind of raises state lawmakers would offer before promising anymore money. The state is looking to bolster teacher pay, which has lagged in recent years.

The Senate is proposing about an 11 percent increase for teachers in exchange for them relinquishing their tenure or "career status." On the other hand, the House is proposing about a 5 percent increase partially funded by increased investment in and ultimately sales from the lottery.

The Senate's proposal also eliminates half of the state's teaching assistant jobs, which would come at a time when superintendents say they are already frustrated watching their staffs diminish.

"The Senate reduces funding for teaching assistants by half," Netter said. "For Wake County, our estimate is we would have to cut over 700 teaching assistants from our ranks of 1,250 teaching positions."

Monday night, the Senate rejected the House's proposal due to key differences in Medicaid and the lottery.

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Steve Sbraccia

Steve is an award-winning reporter for WNCN and former assistant professor. A seasoned professional, Steve is proud to call the Triangle home since 2005 after over two decades in Boston, Mass.  More>>

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