“Primarily, we’re dealing with increased costs and decreased revenue,” he told reporters.
Burns said the district is facing an $8 million reduction in money coming in from the state next year.
"This year our school district has received zero dollars for textbooks and training," said Burns.
News of the cuts came just days after the outgoing school board voted to ask the state to be allowed to increase class sizes at it struggles to make ends meet.
"I predicted larger classes, fewer electives and that’s come true," said Burns.
Burns said the $20 million in reductions is for central services only as officials try to minimize the impact on classrooms.
"We're working very hard to lessen impact of economy on our schools, knowing we have additional expenditures and less income," said Burns. "It’ll mean greater reductions in services being offered to schools."
The $20 million in cuts could cover everything from payroll and instructional support to human resources.
Not the best news for Wake County's education leaders, but not the worst either.
"I'm looking at what he said as a ray of hope," school board member-elect Debra Goldman said. "The group coming in is fiscally responsible, we're fiscally conservative."
The cuts are in line with what newly elected school boards campaigned on, spend responsibly and cut the fat, while improving or at least maintaining classroom quality.
"I was not pleased with the teacher cuts last year and the way that they brought teachers back and so many un-terminating contracts and I do not want to see these cuts any further in our classrooms," Goldman said.
Current board member Keith Sutton says he believes the tough decision to cut now will make choices easier later.
"It's a practical on his part I think to get ahead of the curve, get ahead of the game so that by the time we as a board are looking at it, we'll be able to make some informed decisions," Sutton said.
The new board of education will have to sign off on the 2010-11 budget next year.