Wake Commissioners unanimously approved their 2020-2021 budget on June 15, 2020. The adopted FY21 budget included $11.95 million for WCPSS. These funds were moved from the school system’s capital budget allocation to cover these operating costs. Commissioners also approved an initial allocation of $14.1 million in county CARES Act funds to help WCPSS pay for costs incurred at this point as a result of COVID-19. Specifically, they reimburse the school system for technology devices and wireless access for students for remote learning.
School system leaders asked for $43 million of the county’s CARES Act funds. County leaders pointed to concerns over how the school system would spend this money as reason for not fulfilling the request. They are requiring that the school system spend funds and then ask for a reimbursement. Our hope is that county leaders will earmark these funds for the school system so they can rely on this funding.
This year, commissioners were committed to passing a budget without a tax increase. The global pandemic created great challenges in funding for 2020-21 and it is expected to hurt funding next year too, if not the next several years. Our commitment remains the same: to advocate for our public schools to receive the funding they need to be successful. Wake’s students’ and teachers’ needs must not be neglected in tough financial times. We took that approach during the 2008 recession and we saw the harm it caused our education system. In fact, it has only been in the most recent county budget cycles that WCPSS began to recover from the 2008 recession.
The Wake School Board unanimously approved their 2020-2021 budget on May 5, 2020. The proposal included a request of $29.9 million in additional funding from county commissioners. As in recent years, much of this budget request is to cover unfunded mandates from the NC legislature. Unlike recent years, the school system had to react very quickly to a global pandemic. The school system website has an excellent page dedicated to the budget. Review the highlights of the request and find a link to the full budget document.
Wake County Manager, David Ellis, presented his budget proposal to county commissioners on May 18th. While state lawmakers continued to fund millions of dollars for the privatization of schools (for-profit charters, private school vouchers), leaving public schools underfunded, our teachers and students continue to be asked to do more with less. Our county governments are burdened with supplementing funds that have historically been provided by the state. We pushed commissioners to fully fund the school system request; to be bold and creative in the use of CARES Act funds and state funds allocated through the NCGA’s recent COVID Relief bills: HB-1043 and SB-704.
FY 2021 Budget Timeline
- June 15, 2020- Wake Commissioners voted on the budget
- June 1, 2020- Wake Commissioners public hearing* on the budget
- May 18th, 2020- County Manager, David Ellis, presented his proposed budget to Wake Commissioners
- May 5th, 2020- School board unanimously adopted the Superintendent’s proposed budget.
- April 28th, 2020- School board held a public hearing* on the proposed budget.
- April 14, 2020- Superintendent Cathy Moore presented her 2020-21 operating budget to the school board.
- *Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all budget public hearings for 2020 were held virtually, with public comments submitted online.
The State Budget & WCPSS:
State funds greatly impact local school districts. The NC General Assembly has been pushing more and more funding burdens down to the county level since 2013, resulting in larger requests to the County Commissioners to help pay for these unfunded mandates. NC lawmakers’ 2017-19 Biennial Budget impact on school funding can be found on our budget fact sheet.
What’s the WCPSS Budget Cycle?
- The Superintendent prepares an annual budget and submits it with a budget message to the Board of Education (BOE) no later than April 15.
- The BOE holds at least one public hearing on the proposed budget prior to final action.
- The BOE submits the entire approved budget to the Board of Commissioners (BOC) no later than May 15 (or such later date as may be fixed by the BOC.) The BOC completes action on the school budget on or before July 1, or such later date as may be agreeable to the BOE.
- If adoption of the budget is delayed until after July 1, the Board makes interim appropriations for the purpose of paying salaries and the usual ordinary expenses of the school system for the interval between the beginning of the fiscal year and the adoption of the budget resolution.
What You Can Do to Advocate for Funding
- Be informed! Review the various proposed budgets from both the Wake County Commissioners and the Wake Board of Education.
- Speak up at Board of Education meetings and public hearings
- Attend a Board of Commissioners budget presentation, participate in a public hearing