Photo by Doug Wilson.

CHAPEL HILL- The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools board unanimously adopted a new budget Thursday, after administrators dropped a plan to reduce  the number of gifted education specialists at each elementary school.

Instead, the district will forgo hiring new middle school literacy coaches and skip a one-time bonus for school employees.

The reductions will allow school officials to set aside nearly $870,000 to fill teaching assistant positions that state budget proposals do not cover.

Assistant Superintendent Todd LoFrese said the district is still waiting on final numbers from the General Assembly.

“If the reductions are less than $870,000 then the board could consider re-appropriating that funding for different priorities, or if they are greater, then we would have to look at additional reductions,” Lofrese told the board.

If state cuts to education funding total more than the district has set aside, each elementary could lose one teaching assistant.

The board also reserved $40,000 to cover the cost of Driver’s Education, another state-funded program possibly on the chopping block. LoFrese said school officials will spend whatever state money is allocated for Drivers Education before dipping into local funds.

The 2013-2014 budget is balanced using $3.2 million of the district’s reserve funds, but LoFrese told the board that means next budget season the district will start off with a deficit.

“We do not anticipate having this additional funding available next year,” said LoFrese. “We’re starting with what we believe is a $2.2 million dollar hole at the start of the budget development process.”

While the full impact of the state cuts on local schools is still unclear, district leaders could get answers soon, as the North Carolina House and Senate are expected to finalize the state budget next week.