More to come later, but the Wake County school system apparently has found a way to keep more of its fund balance, sidestepping the annual fight of how much to give back to county commissioners.
Currently, school board policy says that the district can keep up to 6 percent of the county's prior year annual appropriation in the rainy day fund. Any excess is supposed to be returned to the county, but in recent years the school board has had a two-thirds majority to waive policy to keep the excess amount.
Staff proposed at today's school board policy committee meeting that the percentage be changed to 3 percent of the overall annual operating budget. While the percentage is lower, basing it off the higher figure means a lot more money can be kept.
For instance, 6 percent of last year's $319 million county appropriation would be about $20 million. This would mean the school board would have to return $12 million of its $32 million fund balance unless it waived the policy.
But setting it at 3 percent of the $1.25 billion total operating budget lets the board keep $37 million.
Staff says it needs the flexibility because, in the absence of a significant funding boost this year and in the next few years, it will need to continue using most of the rainy day fund to again balance the budget or else have lots of layoffs.
Democratic school board members voiced support for the change while Republican board members warned it could set the district at odds with commissioners during a challenging time.
The discussion ended with the committee unanimously agreeing to refer it to the full board for discussion.