At Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, Supt. Merrill released his proposed 2015-2016 budget for the Wake County Public School System.
The $1.4 billion budget includes a local funding request increase of just over $48 million. This results in a total local funding request of $387.6 million. Local funds would provide 33 percent of the overall operating budget.
Salary increases account for nearly half of the $48 million request, specifically $22 million. Non-certified staff would receive a 3 percent salary increase ($6 million). Teacher salary increases ($16 million) represent year one in a five-year plan to increase average WCPSS teacher salary to the national average.
Salary increases for teachers are the current focal point of media coverage. Most – if not all – of the four most recently elected county commissioners ran on platforms that supported increasing teacher salaries with local funding. Now seated, they have paved the way for another bold request made “without apology” by Supt. Merrill.
Supt. Merrill described the request as a first step in addressing “the backlog created by seven years of growth and a decrease in per pupil funding.” From 2008-09 to 2014-15, enrollment in WCPSS increased by 12.7 percent. This same time period has seen reductions in county appropriation, equivalent to a loss of 4.2 percent.
Other notable funding includes the following:
- $5.3 million – open three new schools (Abbotts Creek Elementary, Scotts Ridge Elementary, Apex Friendship High)
- $1.8 million – extra duty pay increases to academic and athletic coaches. Current extra duty pay rates were approved in 1987.
- $2.3 million – expansion of Pre-K programs
- $3.7 million – Elementary Support Model to accelerate learning in 12 schools
The Board of Education now has the budget for consideration. In the next few weeks they will discuss the budget at public work sessions and hold a public hearing. They must approve the budget and send it to the Wake County Board of Commissioners by May 15.