The State Department of Public Instruction is painting a grim picture of potential budget cuts affecting schools both across North Carolina and in Wake County.
As noted in today's article by Lynn Bonner, the potential budget cuts laid out by DPI would result in the loss statewide of 5,300 teachers, elimination of thousands of teacher assistant positions and increases in class sizes. With Wake getting between 9-10 percent of the state's education funding, it wouldn't be pretty locally.
To help close a projected $3.5 billion revenue shortfall next year, Gov. Bev Perdue asked most state agencies to draw up plans for 5, 10 and 15 percent cuts. She only asked DPI to draw up 5 and 10 percent cuts for education funding but it's still pretty bleak.
Five percent of the K-12 budget is $396 million. But because a cut of $304 million is already built into the public education budget, schools would have to come up with $701 million. A 10 percent cut is worth $701 million, or $1.1 billion when the recurring cut is added.
In the 5 percent scenario, the state would change K-3 funding formulas to provide one teacher for every 19 students. That's up from one teacher now for every 18 students.
Funding for class sizes would also go up in the upper grades, potentially by as much as three students in some grade levels.
Teacher assistants would be hit hard in both scenarios. A 10 percent cut would eliminate more than 13,000 positions statewide, with the state paying only for enough assistants to work in kindergarten classrooms.
The state used to fund teacher assistants for grades K-3. Wake lost more than a quarter of the funding for TAs this school year.
The larger class sizes and elimination of teacher assistants would be a double blow.
The proposal cuts all staff development and school technology money because the state is getting millions from the federal Race to the Top grant to pay for those initiatives.
It's still early in the budget process for next year so it's not certain what the final cut would be.
A 5 percent cut would mean Wake would lose $34 million. A 10 percent cut would cost Wake $68 million.