Wake schools face steep budget concerns

November 16, 2010 4:59:28 PM PST
The struggle to fill a multi-million dollar budget gap has Wake County Schools bracing for the worst.Top administrators are warning layoffs are inevitable, between federal stimulus money running out and the state looking at a $3 billion shortfall.

Wake County is the state's largest school system and now it's staring at some of the largest budget cuts in the state.

"It's over $55 million," Chief Business Officer David Neter said.

That amount would be cut if the axe falls right between 5 and 10 percent, as the governor's staff has predicted. All while Wake County is still growing.

"Additional students in additional schools with no additional funding," Neter added.

He says when federal stimulus money goes away next year, they can't use Race to the Top money for the shortfall.

"There are ongoing healthcare costs for employees next year and we have that factored into the budget," Neter said.

Leaders may have to squeeze out sports, arts, and music as the school district in San Diego, California is considering. They are also looking at increasing class sizes and closing schools.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina's second largest school district, is closing schools to save money.

It's unclear what Wake County will do, but leaders warn the cuts are coming and the decisions won't be easy.

This school year, Wake County was able to avoid cuts directly to the classroom, cutting from central services instead.

Neter says next year, more than likely, teachers will have to be laid off.

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