Wake County school board member Keith Sutton wants the school district to begin setting priorities for things to protect in the face of next year's budget crunch.
Sutton got the process started at last week's finance committee meeting, where he proposed ideas such as protecting pre-K funding, providing enough funding for alternative schools and improving the academic performance for African American male students.
Sutton said he's hoping the full school board will have a similar discussion on the issue.
Protecting pre-K funding is tricky because much of the current funding comes from federal stimulus dollars. Wake used part of the stimulus money to hire new pre-K teachers and sharply expand the number of pre-kindergarten classes around the county.
The school district's thinking was to get the most good it could out of the funding before it ran out and the classes were discontinued. Wake has targeted pre-K classes toward families who "demonstrate economic and/or educational need."
Sutton said he recognized that preserving pre-K funding means they'll have to find the money from somewhere else.
The need to preserve and most likely expand alternative school funding is one of the consequences of eliminating the zero tolerance discipline policies. If you're not going to kick out hundreds of students for the rest of the school year then you need to expand the number of seats at alternative schools.
The dismal performance of African American male students has been a concern frequently voiced by Sutton. He often cites the reports done by the Schott Foundation.
The exact steps that would be taken in Wake to improve performance aren't known at this time although school administrators think things such as the program using the Race to the Top money to target the lowest performing schools will help.
(I'm supposed to be off today so I likely won't be responding to questions.)