WakeEd

The WakeEd blog is devoted to discussing and answering questions about the major issues facing the Wake County school system. How will the new student assignment plan balance diversity, stability, proximity and stability? How will Jim Merrill replace Tony Tata as the new superintendent of the state's largest district? How will voters react to a $810 million school construction bond referendum on Oct. 8 ballot? How will this fall's school board elections impact the future of the district?

WakeEd is maintained by The News & Observer's Wake schools reporter, T. Keung Hui. While Keung posts information and analysis on the issues, keep us posted on your suggestions, questions, tips and what you're doing to cope with the changes in Wake's schools.

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Bracing for bad budget news

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School board members are bracing themselves for bad news from today’s meeting of the county commissioners.

It’s looking likely that commissioners will only give the school board a total of $319.2 million, $36 million less than requested. Potentially even worse for the school board, commissioners could also decide to allocate that $319.2 million for specific purposes rather than providing a lump sum.

The commissioners could tie the school board's hands on how much money to spend for classroom instruction, administration, transportation and other needs.

“I hope it really doesn’t happen,” said school board member Kevin Hill.

School board member Horace Tart was more blunt about how bad it would be if commissioners started saying where the money should be spent.

“Are they going to use this an excuse to underfund us?” Tart said.

Rosa Gill, chairwoman of the school board, said it would hurt relations between the two boards if commissioners dictated where the money should be spent.

School board member Eleanor Goettee said commissioners shouldn’t engage in “micromanagment” of the school board’s budget. She said it would be "insulting" for commissioners to specify where the money should be allocated.

School board members are expecting to spend Tuesday’s work session reviewing budget cuts. Click here for a list of possible cuts that had been developed by administrators in March.

But the board's ability make cuts to adjust to the $319.2 million could be restricted if the commissioners don't just give a lump sum.

If conditions are placed, Goettee said she might even recommend that the school board seek a mediator to resolve the budget dispute. If that failed, it could lead to a lawsuit. The last time mediation was used in Wake was 1998.

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.
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