Wake Co. residents urge full school funding at hearing

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Wake commissioners hear pleas for increased school funding at a second public hearing Monday.

The Wake County Board of Commissioners gave the public a chance to weigh in on the proposed 2018 Wake County Schools budget with two public hearings Monday.

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County Manager Jim Hartmann presented the $1.26 billion recommended fiscal budget on May 15.


It calls for a $61 million boost over last year's budget, but includes only a third of what the Wake County Public School System requested.

The budget proposes funding the district with $16 million more than last year, bringing the total dedicated to schools to $426 million.

RELATED: Wake commissioners wrestle with school budget unknowns

However, the district had requested a boost of $45.2 million for new schools, salary increases, and other expenses.


The second public hearing was held at 7 p.m. Monday at the Wake Commons Building on Carya Drive in Raleigh.

Most of the audience was made up of parents, teachers, and county school bus drivers - urging the commission to grant the school system's full funding request.

"Our youth deserve public officials willing to speak up for them," said Wake parent Stephanie Lormand.

Susan Gardner came to the podium, revealing to commissioners that she and her husband were unable to have children, but still see education funding in the county as a crucial part of its future.

"My husband I are willing to pay more taxes to fully fund the school system," Gardner said.

A total of 27 people signed up to speak at the evening round of hearings; the overwhelming majority stood in favor of the budget boost for schools. But longtime Wake County activist Joey Stansbury with the fiscally conservative Wake Citizens Coalition, rose in opposition.

"County commissioners are doing a marvelous job of incrementally taxing the quality of life out of Wake County," Stansbury said.


At the earlier public hearing, held at the Wake County Justice Center on S. McDowell Street, school board member Bill Fletcher gave commissioners specific examples of where that additional money would go, including to hiring more school counselors and social workers to help students growing up in poverty succeed.

"That is a key part of our budget request that at this point does not appear to be funded," he said.

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Residents weigh in on the Wake County Schools budget at two hearings Monday.

The county manager has recommended the district use the $21 million that's projected to go unspent in its current budget.

To make up for the overall budget increase, the county is looking at a 1.45-cent property tax increase.

The majority of residents speaking at the public hearing said they support regular tax increases if it means boosting funding to education.

Beverley Clark, former WCPSS board member reminded commissioners that fighting for education was the platform they ran on.

"I'm worried that you are losing touch with the very folks who voted for you," said Clark.

Commissioners are touting their record of increasing education spending by 30-percent over the last four years, saying in a time of rapid growth, it's going to require give and take.

"I don't believe there's a single person who can say we haven't supported public education," said Sig Hutchinson, Wake County Commission Chairman.

"We've got virtually unlimited needs in this county and we're going to do the best that we can," said Matt Calabria, commissioner.

For more information, visit wakegov.com/budget.

Related Topics:
educationwake county newsbudgetwake county schoolsRaleigh
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