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By Karissa Minn
kminn@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — The governor’s proposed 2012-13 budget would give an additional $6.766 million to Rowan-Salisbury Schools, her office announced Wednesday.
In her budget unveiled last week, Gov. Bev Perdue proposed a net increase of more than $562 million to K-12 education. That would restore the $459 million in cuts the Republican-controlled General Assembly passed last year.
But the budget is likely to go through major changes before it passes the state House and Senate, said Rep. Harry Warren.
“The governor based her spending on an increase in the sales tax, and that’s flat-out not going to happen,” Warren said Wednesday. “Without a sales tax increase, her budget needs to be completely reworked, and that’s what we’re in the process of doing now.”
Legislators are still looking at this year’s revenues, Warren said, to figure out what might be possible in next year’s budget.
He said some bills have been filed to improve education and help students and teachers. One of those would expand AP classes and set up bonus programs for teachers who teach them.
Warren said that because Perdue isn’t running for re-election, “she has the luxury of saying whatever she wants” to help her fellow Democrats.
The Rowan-Salisbury system isn’t yet counting on the increase, either.
“Because there is no support for the sales tax increase from the House or the Senate, we haven’t created scenarios prioritizing which cuts planned for next year or made over the past several years could possibly be restored,” Chief Financial Officer Tara Trexler said Wednesday in an email to the Post.
Trexler said Wednesday staff can’t determine the impact on the school system’s budget until they learn how much money will be coming from the county.
She gave school board members an update on the state budget Monday, stating the governor’s proposed increases could help the local system avoid more cuts.
“That could possibly eliminate the discretionary cuts,” she said during the meeting. “That would go a long way if they were to eliminate those reversions.”
The district has had about $5.9 million in discretionary cuts this fiscal year. That number is expect to increase by $1 million next year.
Trexler said the governor’s budget also includes a proposed pay increase of 1.8 percent. It would be the first raise for employees in four years.
In last year’s budget, the General Assembly cut K-12 spending in North Carolina by about $459 million, or 5.8 percent. After the cuts, local schools eliminated 915 teachers, more than 2,000 teacher assistants and nearly 5,000 total educators across North Carolina, Perdue’s release said.
Temporary federal funds helped soften the blow of those reductions. The $258 million in EduJobs money enabled North Carolina schools to keep some of the teachers, teacher assistants and other education professionals that would otherwise have been cut.
In Rowan-Salisbury, K-12 schools received about $4.328 million in EduJobs money during this school year. Perdue says that federal money, which was designed to help states deal with declining revenue associated with the economic downturn, goes away later this year.
Statewide, Perdue’s budget calls for a net increase of more than $562 million in K-12 school funding over what is currently planned for next year. Her budget includes $503 million to restore the discretionary cuts made last year, as well as other investments, like a small pay increase for teachers. Perdue’s office estimated that her proposal would save or create about 11,000 education positions across North Carolina next year.
Reporter Sarah Campbell contributed to this story.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.
Twitter: twitter.com/postcopolitics
Facebook: facebook.com/ Karissa.SalisburyPost

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