It's not looking good that Wake County commissioners will increase school funding as they're casting their eyes on the district's undesignated fund balance.
During today's retreat, County Manager David Cooke told commissioners that the school board's undesignated fund balance, a.k.a. rainy day fund, stands at $25.2 million. Commissioners say they'll know where to look if asked to increase funding for the 2011-2012 school year.
"If we wanted to find additional money for the schools, the quickest place to go would be to their fund balance, which is our money anyway," said board of commissioners chairman Paul Coble
The unspent money consists mostly of about $7.3 million in instructional services, attributed to lapsed salaries and hiring freezes, and $15.5 million in system support -- everything from special population support to public relations. County officials said the fund balance is the largest it's been in seven years.
GOP commissioners have tended to look more at the school district's fund balance. Some in the past have questioned the need for the school board to have one, saying that the commissioners can cover any emergencies.
The last time the fund balance became an issue was the previous time the GOP was in the majority on the board of commissioners.
Historically, the school board has been resistant to the idea of surrendering its fund balance to the commissioners. To build up the fund balance, the old school board passed a policy saying the school system would only spend half its undesignated fund balance each year to balance the budget.