Special Edition #NCED Updates: WCPSS Is A Hot Mess

There is a lot going on in North Carolina education at the moment, but there needs to be a spotlight on the fact that the largest school district in the state, Wake County, is a flaming hot mess.

Let’s start with the budget – because if the past is any indication, nothing is ever enough.

Wake Supt. Cathy Moore has proposed a $1.7 billion budget for the 2019-2020 school year, including $8.2 million for new school building operations despite enrollment dropping to a net gain for 42 kids instead of an estimated 1,900.

Highlights:
$19.5 million – Meet legal requirements set by the state.
$8.1 million – New School operations.
$2.7 million – Pre-school teachers/assistants, transportation assistants/ vendor contracts.
$3.8 million  – “Non-certified” or non-teaching salaries and increases.
$2.5 million – “Deferred maintenance needs” for the “backlog” of work orders.
$3.7 million – Extra duty/coaches pay increases.
$8.6 million – “Remaining budget items.”

There’s also a section pushing for $30 million to support Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) programs, which is the emphasis on emotions and feelings over actual academic content and achievement. A recent study found SEL to be a completely subjective, unscientific garbage that invades student privacy and actually has a harmful impact on their well-being.

The $1.7 billion budget includes a request for a 10% increase ($519 million) from the Wake County Board of Commissioners.  The board and Moore want to see a $48.9 million increase in local funding. How are they planning to get that money? By raising taxes for a sixth straight year.

The $48.9 million sounds like a record increase request, but it’s not. Moore’s predecessor last year asked for nearly $59 million, however, if approved Moore’s would be the largest one ever granted.

Wake County Schools has a habit of ‘disappearing’ their webpages or renaming them so they are unsearchable, so I have archived this year’s WCPSS budget rollout pages on my Scribd account and via Archive.is, a web content archival site similar to the Wayback Machine.

WCPSS’s Board Unable To Live Within Their Means (Taxpayer Funds)

Over the five years, the Wake County School Board has repeatedly demonstrated they are unable to work within the massive billion dollar budgets they are given each year.

Source: NC Public Schools Finance Reporting Website https://gdacreporting.ondemand.sas.com/srcfinance/

The Wake School Board’s spending is unchecked and out of control. Their ability to forecast needs and basic enrollment has rarely been on target and their priorities are politically correct agenda items at the cost of improving academic outcomes.

Just this past March, the board was complaining about needing $1.4 million when they were apparently surprised to find out that school buses require maintenance.

In 2018, Wake County saw the fifth year of tax increases to cover the mismanagement of both the school board and the county commissioners. 2017’s budget was also a hot mess as Supt. Merrill asked for stunning $58.9 million increase in 2018.  The county commissioners ended up giving Merrill a record $45 million, which topped the previous record of $44.6 million given to the school board in 2015.

Later in 2018, Supt. Merrill dumped his contract early and left Wake taxpayers holding a $350,000 bag when the board agreed to pay him a pension of $180,036 a year, which is beyond the state-mandated cap. The district then tried to blame the state pension system for their own incompetence.

The same budget mismanagement happened in 2016. The board wanted the budget increased to $1.4 billion, but even that wasn’t enough and initially cited a shortfall of $16.8 million. That shortfall number later increased to $17.5 million.  According to documents obtained by public records request, the district attempted to make up for their deficit by taking it out on staff, students, and taxpayers by cutting services and raising taxes. The emails between the board, staff and former Supt. Jim Merrill detailed cuts to school level services to ‘close the $17.5 million dollar budget gap’ while simultaneously indicating a 3% pay raise and a half percent bonus for non-teaching support staff.

But the spending while complaining about budget issues of 2016 didn’t end there.

The Wake school board also approved the purchase of a car dealership’s property near downtown Raleigh to turn into a high school campus, of which the location nixed any thoughts of athletic facilities. The cost was over $6.3 million.  To add insult to budget injury, the board also approved the hire for a long-vacant tech position at $139k a year.

Current WCPSS News

Board Members Leaving For Other Campaigns; NC NAACP Moves In?
Kushner is following in her pal Susan Evans’ shoes by running for a General Assembly seat. Kushner is aiming for the last Republican-held Senate seat in Wake County – District 18, held by John Alexander.

Evans lost spectacularly and Kushner’s even more to the Left than Evans is. Last December Kushner made headlines when she thanked the district for helping her children become “anti-racist, anti-misogynist, anti-homophobic fully formed adults.”

Vying for her seat is the Terrance Ruth, a current professor at NCSU and former Wake County teacher.  His announcement to run for Kushner’s seat leaves out some very significant facts about him: he’s a former adviser to Rev. William Barber and a former Executive Director of the NC NAACP.

A look through his social media accounts shows an almost singular focus on racism and unwavering support for Moral Monday and the Poor People’s Campaign, of which the latter has partnered with antisemitic groups pushing the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in the U.S.

06-19-18 Terrance Ruth - FB - Moral Revival - Barber

Meanwhile, ​board co-chair Keith Sutton has announced he will join the gaggle of Democrats seeking to challenge current state Supt. Mark Johnson.

“Social Justice Standards” and “White Privilege Training”
The Office of Equity Affairs (OEA) is openly pushing the use of “Social Justice Standards” created by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s education propaganda offshoot.

The OEA also has a 5th employee, bringing the OEA’s total cost to taxpayers up to $663,509 a year.

In addition, the OEA is behind the closure of the SCORE Academy for ‘White Privilege training’, which resulted in the loss of two days of academic instruction for around 300 students. Read about all of these things here.

Banned from Prom
Wake Forest High Schools’ Ian Lewis tragically lost his life while swimming at Emerald Isle last week. His date to the prom goes to Rolesville High and wanted to attend the prom in his honor, but WCPSS said no and banned her from attending based solely on the fact the tickets were purchased in Lewis’ name.

According to CBS 17, WCPSS’s communications director issued a statement which in part said that “we decided a high school prom would not be an appropriate setting to memorialize a student.”

WCPSS Raising Meal Prices – AGAIN.
For the fourth year in a row, the cost of your kid’s breakfast and lunch at school is going up again. This hike will be a 20-cent increase for students who pay full price for meals. The new total price for lunch for elementary kids will be $2.75 and $3.00 for middle and high school students.

Compare that to the first hike 2016 when WCPSS bumped lunch to $2.25 in elementary schools and $2.50 in middle and high schools. The board justified that first hike by noting they had failed to adjust meal rates for the previous five school years.

Dress Code Drama – Now Packed With More Gender Neutralness
“In an effort to be more gender neutral, the Wake County school board is updating its dress code policy for the first time since the early 2000s,” ABC11 reported.

But what does that ‘gender neutral’ really mean? It means the dress code language, according to parents, was ‘biased against’ girls by not allowing them to wear “excessively short or tight garments, bare midriff, strapless shirts, and attire that exposes cleavage.”

According to the new dress code policy, all students are told to wear clothes that aren’t see-through and that “covers their skin from chest to mid-thigh in front, back, and on the sides,” so that girls are not singled out.  We’ve all seen the outfits some girls wear to school and to be honest, what Bratz dolls wear would be a step up.

Parents in WCPSS Discover The Joys Of Common Core Math
Wake County parents and students alike have been protesting the Common Core-aligned Mathematics Vision Project (MVP) for the last few months. Let’s give these parents a warm welcome to the Stop Common Core party, shall we?

Parents lit into the school board at their meeting last month, held a protest on April 23rd in front of the WCPSS headquarters, and have been bombarding the district and the board on Twitter. Hundreds of students walked out of class in protest earlier in April:

The movement to dump MVP math even has its own Twitter account, which has not held back and in the process, slammed Heather Scott for her anti-charter mentality while calling out the Wake Board and county leaders as ‘out of touch’.

WCPSS Board Member Jim Martin And 8% Hate
Board member Jim Martin recently bemoaned the district having to give a measly 8% of parking fee money to charter schools in Wake County.

For some perspective, there are 183 district schools in Wake County and only 23 charter schools.

Those schools Martin looks down his nose at serve thousands of students and they are also public schools. Not only that, but charters statewide are typically underfunded to the tune of over $1,000 per pupil yet tend to outperform their traditional counterparts.


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About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a freelance journalist and is currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_
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