2020-21 Board of Education Proposed Budget

Picture of young girl learning with blocks

Budget Letter from Chair Sutton

  • May 8, 2020

    Dear Chairman Ford,

    On behalf of the Wake County Board of Education, I am presenting the proposed budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. This budget request, which reflects the needs of 162,000 students, their families and our nearly 20,000 employees, is delivered at an extraordinary time in our nation’s history.

    As our superintendent said in her budget message to us, the COVID-19 pandemic has left many of us struggling to understand what will happen in the next 30, 60 or 90 days – let alone the duration of the coming school year.

    So we, as a school board, have turned to our district’s core beliefs in presenting this budget to you.

    COVID-19 has underscored and exposed large gaps and disparities among our families. It has revealed the depth of our challenges in ensuring all students are provided relevant, rigorous and meaningful learning each day.

    And it has led to this budget request of $545,891,117 in county appropriations for the 2020-2021 school year – an increase of $29,936,016 compared to last year.

    Our Board of Education members greatly appreciate the collaboration and the strong working relationship we enjoy with you and the Board of Commissioners.

    It is largely due to this relationship that we understand the school system’s request, while much smaller than years past, will be difficult to meet.

    We also know it falls far short of the educational needs exposed by this pandemic.

    What this request represents, we believe, is a balance between our responsibilities to provide a sound, basic education and the significant uncertainties faced by the Wake County Board of Commissioners.

    Of the $29.9 million of additional funding contained in this request, $18.4 million is driven by current and expected legislative requirements. Another $2.1 million is tied to increasing property costs. And $2.8 million is needed to pay for the opening of new schools.

    I would also like to highlight the largest single increase outside of legislative changes, which is a request for $6.7 million to help cover the costs of deferred operational needs.

    This category of deferred needs was created last year in response to public acknowledgement by county leaders and school board members that the school system never recovered from reductions made during the Great Recession. While the request in this second year of the five-year program has been reduced, we feel it is important to retain a commitment to the larger effort.

    I am certain you and your colleagues will be as thoughtful and compassionate in your considerations as we were when shaping this request. I want to thank you in advance for your deliberations and look forward to working together as we strive to maintain and improve one of our county’s most important assets.





    Keith Sutton

    Chair, WCPSS Board of Education



Budget Timeline

  • April 14, 2020
    The superintendent presents a 2020-2021 budget to the Board of Education for its consideration. The proposal requests $545.9 million in funding from county commissioners, an increase of $29.9 million compared to last year.
    April 28, 2020
    Board of Education members hold a work session to ask questions about the proposed budget and suggest changes.
    April 28, 2020
    Following the board work session, a public hearing is held where the general public can offer its thoughts and suggestions about the superintendent's proposed budget.
    May 5, 2020
    Board members hold final public discussions and approve their formal request to Wake County Commissioners. This becomes the Board of Education's 2020-2021 proposed budget.
    May 18, 2020 
    The Wake County Manager presents his proposed budget to County Commissioners. His proposal includes information provided in the request from the School Board.
    May 27, 2020
    County Commissioners hold the first budget work session to review the County Manager's proposal
    June 1, 2020 
    Commissioners hold a public hearing to receive comments about the County Manager's proposed funding levels for all services, including the portion used to help pay for schools in 2020-2021.
    June 8, 2020
    Commisioners hold a regularly scheduled work session
    June 15, 2020 
    Regularly scheduled county commission meeting. While not required by law, commisioners generally approve a final budget by this date. Local funds cover about 30% of the school system's operating costs. An additional 4% of the school system's operating costs are covered by local funds generated in specific areas such as fines and forfeitures. 
    June 2020 (More dates as needed)
    The school board begins to debate changes to the school district's 2020-2021 budget based on decisions by the county. An interim budget is generally needed while waiting for a final decision from state lawmakers on the state's 2020-2021 budget. 
    July 2020 (Estimated)
    State lawmakers approve a 2020-2021 budget. State funds currently cover about 58% of the school system's operating costs. 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.