In June, the Wake County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a 1.2 billion dollar budget for Wake County school systems. The Wake County School Board had wanted an additional $35.7 million, but the request was denied.
The school budget, which went into effect this past July, represents nearly a $57 million dollar increase over the prior year’s budget. That translates to roughly a 6.6% increase in per pupil spending, but comes at the cost of an income tax increase — the second one in two years.
This year’s tax increase will be a 1.35 cent property tax on every $100 in property value. Last year’s property tax rate was increase by 3.65 cents per $100 in value.
Combined, it’s a tax hike of 5 cents which doesn’t sound like a lot, but for lower and middle class families, it adds up.
Yet, even with such a large and expanded budget, the Wake County School Board has been struggling with a nearly $17 million dollar budget gap.
In order to combat this gap, Wake County School Board had previously announced cuts to school bus routes, classroom cleanings and adjusting thermostats in classrooms as measures to save money. In addition, breakfast and lunch prices were raised for the first time in 5 years.
In an email obtained exclusively by this site, Wake Superintendent Jim Merrill outlined plans to cut certain services, including classroom supply allotments. The email also included a, “3% salary increase for all support staff and a half-percent bonus after combining state and local resources.”.
The email also alluded to central office hiring freeze of 90 days, yet at the September board meeting the Wake County School Board decided to fill a vacant position. At that meeting, the board announced the hiring of Stacy Lee to fill the role of Chief Technology Officer for the school system. Lee will be hired at $139,000 a year.
Though it’s hard to tell how long the position of Chief Technology Officer has been vacant, it appears the role has been unfilled since at least prior to Tony Tata’s term as Superintendent of Wake County Schools. Tata’s tenure spanned from January 2011 to September 2012.
According to the News and Observer, Lee has been serving as Chief Technology Officer for Onslow county schools. There was no information available as to what Lee’s salary in the Onslow position was.
The board has apparently moved forward with a questionable multi-million dollar land purchase for a future high school site. The purchase would require the sign off of the Wake County Commissioners.
Last month, Wake County Commissioner John Burns seems to think students in the future will have to ‘get over’ not having athletic fields and parking lots.
“We’ve got to start doing something else other than anticipating that every school’s gonna have a football field, every school’s gonna have a baseball field and every school’s gonna have a major parking lot,” said Commissioner John Burns.
– News and Observer, 8/16/16
The Wake School board had already been looking into various building sites to at an estimated cost of $2 billion dollars.
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