RALEIGH—Superintendent Tony Tata stands behind the proposed budget for the upcoming school year in Wake County.
However, the plan is now in the hands of County Commissioners. It is up to them to decide whether to allow a 2.8 percent increase in funding to the school district. School officials say it will help back a growing student body and invest in teacher retention. Some say the additional funds still challenge the quality of education.
Tata discussed the board's recent approval of next year's proposed budget in his weekly briefing.
“Anyone who looks at this will realize it's a lean and efficient budget and also takes care of our people and our students,” said Tata.
The proposed budget asked Wake County commissioners for an extra $8.8 million. It is a plan Tata said is conservative amidst deep cuts to school districts statewide.
"Even though we've had a $25 million reduction in the budget this year and we carry a $50 million continuing discretionary cut for the last four years. This budget protects teachers and classrooms first and foremost," said Tata.
Wake County Commissioners will now review the proposed budget, but some worry a lean budget comes at the cost of students.
“This is really bad, this is really bad. We have to provide all of the things that are needed in terms of teacher pay and all the other things that go along with providing a good school system,” said Wake County commissioner Betty Lou Ward.
Commissioner Ward believes the plan will pass, but voices concern the budget does not compliment the recent growth in student population seen in recent years.
“My main concern is being able to provide a proper education for every student enrolled in the Wake County Public School System. It should be important to all of us,” said Ward.
The board has until the end of June to make their decision. The new fiscal year begins July 1. In recent years cuts have been made to central service and administrative positions in the school system. The budget has no reduction in teaching positions and includes a small raise for certified employees.