Education, sustainable growth among Wake’s budget priorities

Education, sustainable growth among Wake’s budget priorities

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Wake County’s 2015-16 budget took effect only three months ago, but the Board of Commissioners on Monday began laying the groundwork for the 2016-17 budget by creating a set of goals to serve as a guide as they develop the next spending plan in the coming months.

The nine goals the board has staked out are as follows: community health, economic strength, education, great government, growth and sustainability, mobility, arts and culture, public safety and social vitality. Commissioners discussed the first five Monday and plan to address the others next week.

County commissioners made sure educators knew they had their back earlier this year when they provided more funding for the Wake County Public School System’s budget. Now, they’re looking at other ways to improve education in the county.

The board wants to partner with school leaders to increase student access to breakfast and encourage healthy food options. There is also concern regarding diversity in the classroom – that some schools in affluent areas don’t admit enough low-income students to their magnet programs.

“One area where we can be of assistance is strategically thinking about affordable housing options,” Commissioner Jessica Holmes said, suggesting that the county could partner with area municipalities to target the issue.

Although school busing is a perennial issue, Commissioner Sig Hutchinson pointed out that the county’s potential transit initiative may be a solution.

“There might be a collaborative approach to start thinking about how transportation can be enhanced with more options in our education system,” Hutchinson said.

The Board of Commissioners will vote on the goals in November, then start working on the budget and how to implement some of the ideas in December.

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