Superintendent Tony Tata presented a 2012-13 budget proposal to the Wake County Board of Education today, that renews the school system’s investment in its classroom teachers with its first increase in the salary supplement in four years and a $500 one time bonus for all other employees except those on the superintendent’s leadership team.
“Our mission — to increase achievement for all students with a world-class education — drives everything we do,” said Tata. “We have to keep moving forward for our kids. In an uncertain economy, that means being focused on strengthening our classrooms, schools and community. We have to demonstrate our commitment to the teachers and staff that have been innovating with a focus and energy on student achievement despite limited resources.”
The $1.25 billion operating budget proposal represents a $24.3 million decrease from 2011-12. The loss of revenue from expiring federal grants and state discretionary cuts is partially offset by increasing spending from the school system’s fund balance and by a requested additional $8.8 million appropriation from the county.
“After many years of budget reductions, including some difficult personnel cuts, our school system is running very lean,” said Tata. “The outside organizational audit we had last year confirmed that. We don’t take any request for additional funding lightly, especially in this environment, but it’s a responsible proposal to bring to our board.”
Invest in our classroom teachers and staff: The budget proposal recognizes that a highly effective classroom teacher is the most important school-based factor in a child’s academic achievement. Despite continuing economic concerns, the budget holds the line on classroom-based staffing formulas and proposes a one-percent increase to supplement pay schedules for certified staff.
Set conditions for high-performing, high-demand schools: The budget proposal targets resources on historically low-performing or under-enrolled schools by enhancing programming, technology, and professional development. New and existing Global Schools and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) networks of schools are supported, while current high-performing, high-demand school programs will be studied and replicated.
Operate more efficiently: With further personnel cuts potentially affecting core services for schools, the 2012-13 budget instead focuses on program effectiveness, reducing investments in non-performing programs. Operational efficiencies include a new bus routing system that could save $6 million a year and reducing leadership overhead.
Tight Economy, Growing School System
Although there have been some signs of economic recovery, the fourth year of a recession has placed significant constraints on school funding. $28.6 million in federal EduJobs funding, which helped address previous years’ state budget shortfalls, expires this year. In addition, NCDPI will likely increase the discretionary budget reduction for WCPSS by $7.3 m to a total discretionary reduction of $49.6 m.
At the same time, WCPSS continues to add 3,000 students a year. The school system opens five new schools next year — two elementaries, one middle and two leadership academies — and is implementing a new student assignment plan in part to better absorb that growth.
“Growth is a better problem to have than the alternative,” said chief business officer David Neter. “Compared to the state and national trends, Wake County is healthy. That means more families are moving here, and our schools must be prepared to serve them.”
View the Superintendent’s 2012-13 budget proposal here.
Those wishing to offer feedback on the budget may provide comments on the online feedback form located here (note: comment period has ended). The Wake County Board of Education will also hear from the public during the public hearing session at the regular school board meeting on April 10.
The school board is scheduled to formally vote on the budget at its May 8 meeting.