The Wake County Commissioners voted Monday to approve and adopt an amended budget.
This budget provides a $44.6 million increase over last year\’s local fiscal support to the Wake County Public School System. The total amount of support for WCPSS will be $386 million.
County Manager Jim Hartmann has described the budget as, “we are treating education like a cornerstone of economic development…and playing catch up.”
An increase of $34.6 million for WCPSS initially was proposed by Jim Hartmann. The Wake County Board of Education budget requested an increase of $48.3 million. The total request for support was $389.8 million.
The extra $10 million of financial support will be provided by the addition of .75 cents to the initially proposed 2.9 cents tax increase. The total property tax rate will now be 61.45 cents (per $100 of value).
Though the commissioners voted to approve the budget 5-2, every commissioner agreed that support for our county’s schools is paramount. Everyone agreed that funding for public education is at risk, and is a waning priority at the state level. What they differ on is how best to fill the hole.
Commissioner Betty Lou Ward made the motion, and comments followed.
Sig Hutchinson: “This is moving our public schools from great to remarkable…this is about competitiveness…where we are competing with Austin, and Denver, and Seattle.”
John Burns: “I think that it is justified, I think that it is careful, I think that it is moderate…Wake County provides teacher supplements, North Carolina provides teacher salaries…make no mistake, this is a hole, and we are dealing with headwinds not of our own creation”
Matt Calabria: “We need county policies that put our people first…education is primarily a responsibility of the state…I do not think we can sit idly by….as our state abdicates that responsibility…NC ranks 3rd in the country in the number of teachers who take 2nd jobs to make ends meet.”
Jessica Holmes: “[The budget will] allow the school board to have more flexibility when it comes to salaries.”
Caroline Sullivan: “It [providing for schools] is often hard to accomplish with growth alone. It has to be increased this year, and the next, and the next…school budgets are like the children they serve…they must grow every year.”
James West: “I truly believe that every member of this board feels very strongly and cares about the future of this county and cares about the future of this school system…education is very important to me…I think we need to do our part, there’s no question about that.”