2023-24 Board of Education's Proposed Budget
Dear Chair Thomas and Wake County Commissioners,
On behalf of the Wake County Board of Education, I am presenting this proposed budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. The top priority of this budget is improving employee compensation to recruit and retain high-quality teachers, administrators, and support staff to improve all public school students' educational outcomes.
Given the tight job market, an uncertain economy, and the ongoing challenge of addressing the continued effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that employee salaries are as competitive as possible if we are to continue to give our students the instruction and support services they need and deserve.
This budget also reflects the necessity of meeting significant state legislative requirements and of shifting recurring budget priorities from one-time, federal pandemic-relief dollars to other funding sources.
We are grateful for your continued commitment to this goal. Part of that commitment was demonstrated with a multi-year funding plan launched in 2019 that aimed to address employee compensation, facility maintenance, student behavioral health, and the need for instructional technology support.
We are once again asking you to affirm your commitment to address these needs, which in many ways now are even more urgent than they were when identified in 2019.
With all of that in mind, the Wake County Board of Education is requesting a total of $650,094,842, an increase of $55.8 million, or 9% more than the appropriation we received in 2022-23.
Nearly half of this requested increase, $25.8 million, would go toward improving employee compensation. We are proposing a $17/hour minimum pay rate or a minimum 4% pay increase for non-certified staff, as well as a 4.5% increase in the local salary supplement for certified staff. This is particularly needed given severe shortages among bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and instructional assistants. High quality staff that is well compensated has a positive impact on the care and well being of our students.
We also are seeking additional funding to meet the increasing costs of state legislative mandates, most notably the requirement to provide funds to charter schools for every Wake County student who attends one. An estimated $61 million of local funding will be needed to meet this requirement, representing an increase of $3.9 million or 7% over the local dollars we provided to charter schools in 2022-23.
In recent years, we have utilized federal pandemic relief funds to help meet critical components of the multi-year funding plan, including building maintenance, behavioral health support, and instructional support technicians. The proposed budget would transition from one-time federal funding to local funding sources to cover current and future needs related to these priorities.
In addition to supporting these ongoing initiatives, we also must provide new programs and resources to meet student and staff needs. This proposed budget includes requests for additional funding for a new Early Learning Center opening this fall to serve the increasing number of pre-K students with special needs. It also requests additional funding for more school-based staff members to support special education students.
In closing, I know our boards share the same goal of maintaining a thriving public school system that helps make Wake County a healthy and prosperous place to call home.
The challenges are great, the needs many. But, as your board has demonstrated consistently over the years with your generous support, these are investments that support our students, our staff and our community.
I look forward to our discussions with every confidence that they ultimately will result in a budget that meets the needs of our students and staff.
Chair, WCPSS Board of Education
- The superintendent presents the 2023-2024 proposed budget to the Board of Education for consideration on April 11.
- Board of Education members hold a work session on April 25 to ask questions about the proposed budget and suggest any changes.
- Board members hold final public discussions on May 2, and approve their formal request to Wake County Commissioners. This becomes the Board of Education's proposed budget.
- The Wake County Manager presents his proposed budget to County Commissioners on May 1.
- County Commissioners hold budget work sessions on May 8 and May 22.
- Wake County Commissioners have scheduled public hearings for May 9, May 15 and one more date that will be announced later.
- County commissioners are scheduled to approve the county budget on June 5 to determine funding levels for all services, including the portion used to help pay for the operating budget for the school system.
- The school board begins to discuss potential changes to the school district's budget based upon the amount of local funding provided by the county. A budget resolution is scheduled to be approved on June 20. It is likely this will be an interim budget resolution while waiting for a final decision from state lawmakers on the state's budget.
- State lawmakers approve a budget.
- If state lawmakers do not approve a budget by June 30, which is typically the case, the school board uses its interim budget to begin the school year.