Wake Schools Say They’ll Suspend Fewer Kids if They Get More Money | News
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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Wake Schools Say They’ll Suspend Fewer Kids if They Get More Money

Posted by on Wed, Mar 21, 2018 at 9:03 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here.

Last year, Wake schools suspended nearly twenty-four hundred kids, a slight increase over 2015–16, and a significant increase over 2014–15. But while the rate of the increase of suspensions is slowing, that rate is still increasing, which has school board members upset.
  • From the N&O: “‘I personally do not support suspension as a disciplinary tool, period,’ said Jim Martin. ‘Suspensions take students out of a learning environment.’”
  • A little over half of the suspensions stem from fighting. And, though the number of black students being suspended has declined, black students still make up a disproportionate amount of suspensions—61 percent of elementary suspensions, for instance, despite accounting for less than a quarter of the student population.
  • The solution, school board members say, is money—specifically, the money they requested from the county last year to fund additional school counselors and psychologists. “Board member Bill Fletcher pointed to a 2013 recommendation from the district's School Security Task Force. That group said each Wake school should have a full-time staff of counselors, social workers, psychologists and nurses. ‘The school board's proposed budget last year requested $10 million to hire these professionals and implement more aggressive support for challenged students,’ Fletcher said. ‘The county did not fund the request.’”

WHAT IT MEANS: And, it seems, we’re back to the budget wars. Much of last year, you’ll recall, was consumed by a tiff between the school board and the county commission [INDY]. While the county increased the school board’s funding significantly, by $21 million, it did not fund the system’s full $56 million request, including the $10 million for school counselors. The county maintains that there’s only so much it can do; it can only raise property taxes so high. The problem, county officials will tell you, is that the legislature criminally underfunds education, and counties have to make up the difference. But expect the school board, armed with this new report on school suspensions, to be back before the county commission this spring, arguing for money for school counselors.

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