Tata's budget designed to protect teachers

Wake County Schools Superintendent Tony Tata

March 15, 2011 5:41:41 PM PDT
After weeks of town hall meetings, PTA meetings, and school tours as he learns about his new job, Wake County Superintendant Tony Tata made his budget proposal public Tuesday.

The district will have to find millions as it struggles to balance the books, but Tata says he doesn’t want to cut teachers.

Board Chairman Ron Margiotta said he is pleased with the budget based upon what he expected.

Click here to read the entire 2011-12 Superintendent's Proposed Budget.

During the hour-long presentation Tuesday, Tata said, "We had to prioritize."

His proposed budget has no cuts in the classroom. It maintains teachers, teaching assistants, and instructional support assistants. It also repurposes funds to reduce class sizes in 4th and 5th grades to an average of 28/27 students.

Tata says he asked for a pay raise for teachers, but couldn't get it. So instead, he wants to use non-recurring funds (as well as tobacco settlement money) to give each WCPSS teacher a $500 bonus. The bonus would be a one-time payment and it will be handed out sometime before the end of this fiscal year.

The Superintendent also is seeking to increase funding for up to five schools that are under-enrolled and have been adversely affected by reassignments. Hillburn Drive, Jeffrey's Grover and Root Elementary are expected to be on that list. Tata says the goal is to make those schools more attractive to parents.

"So for example, Hillburn is somewhere in the 28 percent loss range," he said. "This proposal gives them six additional teachers in addition to the three-and-a-half that we guarantee them in the specials."

Also included is a foreign language program at every middle school and funds to establish intensive international studies and technology programs at up to ten schools.

Cuts include the elimination of 46 central service positions, 26 of which are filled. Each school could lose one clerical position and assistant principals could see a reduction of 181 months of employment.

"I think it could have been a heck of a lot worse with what we have," Margiotta said. "I think they've done a great job."

Tata says the district will have to operate more efficiently. His proposal would eliminate some clerical central services positions and some assistant principals.

Tata says the district is expecting at least 3400 additional students to enroll in WCPSS next year.

Now the budget is in the hands of the school board. It will have until May to present the budget to the county board for final approval.

There could be more changes after the state passes its budget.

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