Battling over budget


As the two boards meet this year at

Wake County

schools' headquarters, their bottom lines appear farther apart than in most years.

Wake schools say they need $54 million more than they got last year, but the county manager has proposed an additional $18 million.

"In this environment with gas prices at $4, [and] with foreclosures. To have a complete closing of the gap is, in my personal opinion, unrealistic," Commission Chair Joe Bryan said.

But even as the budget battle brews, both boards are looking at changing the way they do things --for the better.

A proposal from the business community suggests funding the school system on a multi-year basis and letting the county take charge of building and maintaining new schools.

"What we are proposing is a plan that both boards, we think, can continue to focus on student achievement with perhaps greater results," said Harvey Schmitt with the Raleigh Chamber.

And both sides seem interested.

"I think clearly we would very much invite the opportunity to have a multi-year funding formula," School Board Member Beverley Clark said.

"I think a lot of the public's tired of myself as a county commissioner, as a school board member continuing to fight and have this bitter fight each year in which nobody gains," Bryan added.

However, the two boards did not reach any final agreement at their work session Wednesday.

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