Borrowing a phrase from Dirty Harry, is the Wake County school system feeling lucky now?
As noted in today's article, school leaders aren't thrilled that they're facing $20 million in state cuts for the coming fiscal year. But they're at least relieved that, for now, they're not looking at teacher layoffs.
"The cuts are pretty severe but I'm glad that Wake County still has some flexibility," said Keith Sutton, chairman of the school board's finance committee.
Compare Wake to Charlotte-Mecklenberg, which is looking at laying off 600 teachers. Durham may cut 200 teaching positions. Johnston County is looking at cutting 113 positions.
Still, a 3 percent state cut means changing funding ratios so you'll have fewer teachers, teacher assistants and media specialists at individual schools. You can expect class sizes will go up in grades four through 12.
The other cuts aren't pretty either.
It could get really ugly if Gov. Bev Perdue proposes a 5 percent state cut in education when she presents her budget proposal next week. Wake school officials aren't expecting the General Assembly to have a smaller cut than Perdue.
Neter said a larger state cut means teacher layoffs because student enrollment growth won't offset the $34 million that would be lost under a 5 percent cut.
Under a $34 million cut, schools would see 80 percent of it, meaning a loss of $27.2 million. That's $11 million more than what be cut from schools in a 3-percent reduction.
Neter said they've already cut so much out of Central Services in recent years that schools have to bear most of the cuts now.
The exact cuts that would be made from a 5 percent state reduction haven't been developed yet.
"If it goes to 5 percent, it will be devastating," said Jennifer Lanane, president of Wake NCAE.