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Elementary school student works on homework.

Fundamental School Funding Reform

When I ran for County Commission in 2016, I promised to work toward a multi-year school funding plan. Longer planning would reduce budget fights, toxic blaming, and, instead, focus on accomplishment.

I’m happy to say the entire Board of Commissioners has adopted this as one of the top goals for 2018. For too long our community has watched an annual March Madness. Not college basketball, but a recurring fight between the school board and county commissioners.

Each year the needs exceed the funds available. An annual budget fight does not serve our students, teachers, or taxpayers well. We can do better. We will do better.

Our plan calls for a simple three-step approach to improve school funding:

  1. Fund every student, based on actual—not projected—enrollment.
  2. Allow for an annual adjustment to the per student amount to cover inflation offset by productivity.
  3. Remain open to improvements and consider increased funding with a clear proposal from the school board showing costs and benefits of the plan.

Clarity of the costs and benefits—and ensuring existing resources cannot be reprioritized—will be key to any additional investments by the county.

This simple and straightforward plan eliminates much of the annual confusion. Which, in turn, allows our leaders to focus on improving Wake County schools for our students.

Change that better serves the entire community.

With this plan, our county is committing to increased funding as we grow. Funding becomes more predictable and can be planned for in a responsible way. Just like we all plan our family’s budget: Carefully and with thought about what we can afford to do.

This plan helps our school board better plan how they can manage our schools, prioritize needs, while respecting our communities ability to pay for all of our growing needs.

It’s the responsible thing to do, and sure beats the annual fights we have all lived through for decades. Working together we can better serve our students and teachers for decades to come.

—Erv