The county commissioners have put the funding hot potato in the school board's lap.
The commissioners voted this afternoon to request the school board, Wake Tech and non-profits to participate in a 1.8 percent funding cut. If these groups say no, the commissioners can later implement the cut anyway.
It's putting the school system in the position of deciding whether it will give back $5.7 million. The school board could offer to give less than $5.7 million or nothing to put the issue back with the commissioners.
Initially, County Manager David Cooke said he was looking at an across-the-baord cut in schools and county departments of 1.8 percent. He had said that not getting the money from the school system, Wake Tech and non-profits would mean county departments cutting 4 percent.
But with the economy looking worse, Cooke said he's preparing for the possibility of a revenue shortfall of more than the $17 million originally projected. Even if the school system gives back the $5.7 million, he said he's still having county departments cut back 4 percent as a precaution.
Since the commissioners wouldn't be cutting the school system at a higher rate than the county departments, they wouldn't need the school board's approval.
Today's vote was 5-2 with Harold Webb, the new chairman, and Lindy Brown, the new vice chairwoman, crossing party lines to join Republicans in making the request. Stan Norwalk and Betty Lou Ward voted no.
Supt. Del Burns told commissioners today that if the $5.7 million cut was made, they'd try to avoid personnel. He said they're looking at things such as cuts in central services spending, freezing the filling of central office positions by 90 days, cutting supplies and eliminating out-of-state travel.
You can expect the request from commissioners to be a hot topic at Tuesday's school board meeting.