RALEIGH: School systems anxious for new state budget - WNCN: News, Weather

School systems anxious for new budget as school year begins

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Wake County School Board Chairwoman Christine Kushner Wake County School Board Chairwoman Christine Kushner
RALEIGH, N.C. -

Three weeks into the new fiscal year, there is still no new state budget and Wake County school board members are anxiously watching for a new plan for teacher raises.

The Wake County Public School System is operating on an interim budget while state lawmakers continue to debate a new budget that would include raises for teachers.

This has put pressure on Wake Schools, especially since year-round schools began earlier this month. School leaders say they plan to make changes to the WCPSS budget once they have final numbers from the state.

"As you well known, we have year-round schools that have already begun this school year," said Wake County School Board Chairwoman Christine Kushner. "We have almost 50 that began the modified or year-round this July, so they have begun the school year waiting to see what will happen this month with finalizing our budget."

Lawmakers say they hope to have a deal in place by next week.

"We're in a time crunch with [school systems], and I feel for them because the budget year began July 1 and those people are making decisions right now," said Sen. Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph).

Gov. Pat McCrory threatened earlier this month to veto any plan that contains the Senate's proposal to raise teacher pay by more than 11 percent on average because it would result in deep cuts elsewhere.

However he said he's feels more confident after he met with the Senate caucus Thursday.

"We're having good dialogue," McCrory said. "As I told some people earlier, I had a very good conversation for about an hour and a half with the Senate caucus."

The governor had backed the House's teacher pay proposal, which offers average 6 percent raises and the first step in McCrory's initiative to develop differentiated pay plans for veteran and high-quality instructors.

He said he met with House members on Thursday as well.

No matter what version of the budget passes, WCPSS budget analyst David Netter said there will be funding gaps that will require tough choices.

In the worst case, Netter said, "We could see reduction in force."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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