Here's a synopsis of how Wake County school administrators are dealing with a proposed 8.8 percent funding cut from state House Education leaders.
With the cut being far higher than the 5 percent reduction the new budget was built on, Wake is drawing up plans should they need to lay off teacher assistants and custodians.
One of the major differences between what the state Department of Public Instruction and the state House has proposed is a greater reduction in funding for teacher assistants. The state House plan would remove all funding for teacher assistants beyond kindergarten and first grade.
In Wake’s case, Chief Business Officer David Neter said they'd first move all teacher assistants from 10-month to 9.25-month contracts. They'd basically not have the TAs come in on days when students aren't in, such as teacher workdays.
Neter said the second thing they'd do is not rehire teacher assistants whose contracts expire at the end of the school year. That includes teacher assistants who are in their first two years and new hires for this school year.
But Neter said the first two steps wouldn't be enough to absorb the state House cut so they're drawing up contingency plans in case they need to lay off some of Wake’s 2,064 teacher assistants.
The state House is also calling for $4.5 million more in cuts for non-instructional staff than projected by DPI. Wake bad already planned to eliminate one clerical position at each of its 163 schools based on the DPI budget proposal.
But with the additional state House cut, Chief Facilities and Operations Officer Don Haydon is drawing up plans to reduce custodial services. He said that all schools currently receive daily custodial service with one-third of schools having a custodian on staff and the other schools contracting with a private service.
Another possible cut that Haydon is dealing with is an additional $2.6 million reduction for transportation proposed by legislators.
Wake’s budget problems could potentially get worse if the state Senate, as some school board members and Neter anticipate, increase the cut in K-12 funding to lower the reductions for the UNC system.
The budget proposed by Supt. Tony Tata called for offering a one-time $500 teacher bonus, adding more foreign language instruction in middle schools, starting new technology and global studies programs and helping schools that are under-enrolled.
Tata said today’s he still committed to keeping those new programs even in the face of deeper budget cuts. He said they’re necessary to provide balance in the schools.
But Tata said some things he had proposed such as increasing the number of alternative school seats might have to be reconsidered. His proposal to not lay off any teacher assistants may also be impacted.