Wake schools facing deeper cuts than expected

April 7, 2010 12:44:02 PM PDT
The Wake County Board of Education got some bad news Tuesday.

Leaders already knew they might have to cut $20 million from the 2010-2011 budget, but now they've been told that number may be closer to $40 to $55 million.

The talk of cuts comes after the governor's office indicated a potential decrease in state funding for next year.

"We were doing everything we could to preserve the classroom and not have to make cuts to teachers and staff and at this point that seems unlikely, that we'll be able to do that," Wake County school board member Keith Sutton said.

Sutton found out about the additional cuts during a work session Tuesday morning.

The district is still figuring out where the money would come from, but it's expected that Central Services and teachers would be impacted.

The state's expected decrease in funding could lead to larger class sizes and fewer teaching assistants and teachers.

"That means here over $20 million of additional reductions beyond what we've already prepared for," Wake County Schools Chief Business Officer David Neter said.

Neter says the additional cuts in funding will likely lead to an increase in class sizes, reduction of teaching assistants at some of the schools and fewer teachers.

"Over 80 percent of funding goes to salary, benefits and employees," he said. "We are a people driven organization and to absorb a significant cut like that, it will impact positions."

The news is grim, but the school system is vowing to continue its business of educating children.

"The 140-something thousand children are going to show up every day ? we will continue to do what we do to focus on those kids," Neter said.

He also says they are working on developing a plan to deal with the cuts. That plan will be presented next Wednesday, at the board's finance committee meeting.

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