Thursday, November 20, 2008


Subject: Cuts in County Contribution to WCPSS education budget.Importance: High

I need your help to stop any further cuts in the County's contribution to the WCPSS budgert.

First, please read this article in todays N&O.

Wake schools may have to lay off employees

By T. Keung Hui, Staff Writer
Comment on this story

RALEIGH - Wake County school leaders warned today that they may have to lay off employees and take money from the classroom to make up for more than $11 million in potential state and local funding cuts.
Wake Schools Superintendent Del Burns said the district will lose $5.5 million in state funding due to a shortfall in state revenues. This comes on top of a request by County Manager David Cooke for the schools to give up $5.7 million in local funds to help make up for a projected revenue shortfall of at least $17 million. (note: There has been no request by the BOC to ask WCPSS for a cut. At the last work session Tony Gurley suggested such a cut but the decision authorizing the County Manager to do so was delayed until Dec. 1)
Burns said they would do everything they could to minimize the impact of the cuts on the classroom and employees.
School board members asked Burns to draw up plans for how to cut the $11.2 million even as they bemoaned the consequences.“Services will be impacted,” said school board member Patti Head. “This will impact the classroom. I can’t imagine cutting that money out of a lean budget.”
School board member Lori Millberg added that having to make cuts that large usually means reducing employees.
Burns didn’t provide specifics today on what could be cut.
Burns said he might not have specifics to give the school board until Dec. 16. But he said he’ll share with county commissioners at their Dec. 1 meeting the kinds of cuts that might be made if the money is lost.
Wake, like other school districts in the country, is caught in the national economic downturn, which has government revenue.
“We have an obligation to recognize what’s going on around us and do some belt-tightening,” said school board member Ron Margiotta.
The school district will have no choice about making the state cuts. In fact, Burns said the schools likely will have to give back more than the $5.5 million identified by the state because Wake’s student enrollment is less than expected.
But the school district may be able to work out a deal on the local cuts. Cooke has asked all county departments to cut 1.8 percent of their funding. (Those cuts have not yet been executed.)
If the school district and Wake Technical Community College don’t give back 1.8 percent, county departments will have to take a deeper 4 percent cut. This could affect such key operations as the sheriff's office, EMS, and the 911 call center.
The commissioners have delayed taking any action until Dec. 1 when they could vote to take the money from the school system. At that meeting, Commmissioner-elect Stan Norwalk will be sworn in, giving Democrats a 4-3 majority on the county board.
School board member Beverley Clark suggested coming up with a a cut of less than $5.7 million. She pointed out how the school district can give back the $2.6 million to $2.8 million that staffers say will be saved from enrollment falling short.


A large show of support is needed to prevent the County's proposed cuts. Here are some arguments against any cuts by the County.
  • Per the NC DPI, WCPSS is 85th among the 115 NC school systems in expenditures for operating schools, i.e. for education. It spends less than the average NC school system. (This does not include construction.).
  • Over the last five years WCPSS's rank has fallen from 71st to 84th.
    Similarly, the rank of Wake County's contribution for education has declined from 13th to 17th.
  • During that period the average increase of NC's schools was 43%. WCPSS increased only 23%. Although the state and the county are responsible for this sorry record, other NC Counties are trying harder than Wake.
  • On a national basis, NC ranks 42nd among the states in support of K-12...$30,000 per classroom per year less than the national average. (Source: S&P's School Data Direct)..
  • The education gap (versus other states) is totally due to the County's contribution. The states contribution has been slightly above the national average.
  • Earlier this year the Wake BOC cut the BOE's operating budget request by $35 million. The County's contribution in recent years does not account for inflation - only growth.
  • This history of lack of support by the County has begun to affect academic performance...e.g. graduation rate and test scores.
  • Wake County has ample rainy day funds to deal with its <2%>

These downward trends have to stop! A four vote majority is needed to avoid any further cuts. That is by no means assured. Your support for WCPSS is needed at this critical point.

The BOC meeting will start at 2PM. The meeting is held in the 7th floor board room of the Court House I will be sworn in with the other newly elected commissioners shortly thereafter. (As ever, parking, security and the elevators will slow you down.)The public speaks out session starts at 3PM. I suggest you get there early and sign up. Signs and posters showing your support would be of help. (Save our Schools; Stop the Cuts). Please pass this e-mail on to your friends, associatesand neighbors

Thank you.

County Commissioner Elect
Stan Norwalk