Much has been made over what items are included in the Superintendent’s proposed budget. Little has been made over items not included.
Some of these items can be found on page 14 of the budget document titled “Deferred Needs.” They include items like, “Technology Refresh Operating Dollars for Classrooms – $8 million.” These dollars would be focused on helping replace classroom technology like computers and tablets on a recurring basis. The key phrase here is recurring basis. While the district did request and receive money for a technology program in the last bond program, there is no line item in the annual operating budget for technology refresh.
During a work session, Chief Business Officer David Neter addressed questions submitted to him by school board members. These questions reveal additional items that were not included in the proposed budget.
- Teaching assistants were reduced to 9.25 months of employment in 2011; restoring them to 10 months of employment would cost $11.5 million.
- Assistant principal positions were reduced in 2011 to 10 months of employment; restoring them to 12 months of employment would cost $1.27 million.
- Decisions were made to reduce the number of days during a week when classrooms were cleaned from five days to three in 2011; restoring this to five days per week would cost $7 million.
These three items alone add up to almost $20 million. They remind us that exceptionally difficult decisions were made to preserve classroom teaching positions during the recent recession. These decisions still impact classrooms and schools on a daily basis.
Every budget cycle presents numerous layers of decisions that school board members and district staff must consider. Spending priorities must align with the district’s strategic plan built on the priorities of our community.
Last August, over 700 individuals from Wake County ranked their priorities at a town hall meeting. The top priority, as identified by 84 percent of attendees? “Recruiting, developing, and retaining high quality employees.”
The superintendent’s proposed budget reflects that priority.