NBC 17 Story Sidesteps Issue of Declining Public School Personnel

A news story that aired on Raleigh’s NBC-17 News last night claimed to offer a “reality check” on how budget cuts affected teaching jobs in North Carolina’s public schools.

Unfortunately, the story left viewers with a mistaken impression that North Carolina’s public schools have weathered recent budget cuts without losing many teaching positions. Although the story is correct to note that 534 teachers were laid off this school year, in addition to 1,260 teacher assistants (based on August 2011 data), layoffs are less relevant than positions lost when looking at the impact of budget cuts on North Carolina’s public schools.

According to the latest data from the NC Department of Public Instruction (NC DPI), North Carolina’s public schools (excluding charters) have 15,497 fewer full-time personnel this year compared to three years ago. Just under one in three of those position losses (4,840) occurred in the last year, and seven in ten of those lost positions since 2009 are the result of fewer teachers (5,134) and teaching assistants (5,738).

While “only” 6,167 personnel losses were the result of layoffs since 2009, it matters little to North Carolina schoolchildren’s education whether there are fewer teachers, teacher assistants, librarians, and other personnel due to layoffs or due to a position not being filled when an educator retires or changes jobs. The end result of fewer educators working to provide schoolchildren with an education is the same regardless.

Furthermore, North Carolina’s schools will face the prospect of thousands more fewer personnel next year. According to NC DPI, There are currently more than 4,000 public school personnel currently being supported through $254 million in remaining temporary federal assistance that expires in September of this year. Without additional federal, state, and/or local funds, local school districts will be hard-pressed to retain many of those public school employees through the next school year.


  1. Frank Burns

    February 15, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    One reason is that each year, more and more NC parents are removing their children from the public schools. Apparantly they aren’t happy with the education system. Currently 13% of NC students attend private schools, home schooled or attend Charter Schools. The question we should be asking is why are the parents removing their children from the public schools?

  2. Ed McLenaghan

    February 15, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Sorry, Frank, but the actual data show otherwise:

    – 2008-09 total LEA average daily membership (1st month) = 1,416,450
    – 2011-12 total LEA average daily membership (1st month) = 1,419,577


  3. Frances Jenkins

    February 15, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Please do not allow facts to intervene with the truth.

  4. jlp75

    February 16, 2012 at 7:42 am

    As an observer on another site, Frank is pretty much immune to data or facts. He is in the George W. Bush school of thought on going with his gut. Conservatives can never seem to grasp the concept that while they are entitled to their own opinion, they are not entitled to their own facts.

  5. Jimmy

    February 16, 2012 at 8:49 am

    Are we discounting the population growth during those 4 years, and wasn’t there a cap on the numberof charter schools ?

  6. gregflynn

    February 16, 2012 at 9:17 am

    There has been a cap on number of charter schools but not on the number of students who can be enrolled. Actually it is private schools that have seen a decline in enrollment in recent years while religion based home schooling has increased.

  7. Frank Burns

    February 17, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Don’t be sorry Ed, think how much more it would be if there weren’t Charter, home schooling and private school attendance. Look at the increase in staff in schools that don’t teach. How many counselors, teachers aids, assistant principals, etc are enough? Again I ask, why are parents removing their children from public schools? There is a high level of disatisifaction. It’s my opinion that parents feel that their children will miss out in getting a good education due to student misbehavior and their disrespect towards the teachers. Until the basic problems are addressed, how can the public get behind putting more money into the school system?

  8. gregflynn

    February 19, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Mr Burns, you seem immune to facts. There no evidence of “parents removing their children from public schools” to any significant degree, yet you persist with this straw man argument. There is evidence of enrollment decline in private schools, yet you don’t pose the same rhetorical question or proffer the same personal opinion about private schools.

    As to staff levels you have offered no evidence other than the following comment in another forum:
    The staffs they have nowadays is much more than when I was in school. I graduated in 1970.
    To which I responded with the following quote:
    “In 1970, North Carolina ranked forty-eighth among the states in percentage of residents having graduated from high school. Only Kentucky and South Carolina placed lower.”

    It is more likely that a perception of more staff in schools is simply because schools are much bigger than they were in 1970.

  9. Allison

    February 22, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    We need more staff in our schools. I have 2 children in elementary school and the classrooms are getting larger and the number of teachers and teacher assistants is getting smaller. I moved from a urban area where I was considering homeschooling because of the high student to teacher ratio. When we first moved to the rural school system, I was very happy with the small class sizes. However, over the last few years, teachers have been cut and the classes are getting bigger. There are 3 teacher assistants in my children’s school that have to help out with classes ranging from Pre-K through 5th. The school cannot afford to lose more staff. The students will pay the toll and eventually the country will pay.

    Schools are nothing like they were 20 years ago because of the No Child Left Behind and other policies. Teachers have much more that they have to do on a day to day basis. One thing in particular is meeting state standards and high stakes end of year testing. We put more on teachers but we take away their support system which isn’t working. The educational system cannot take any more budget cuts and needs more funding. I know the country is in an economic crisis, but we cannot afford to take any more away from education.

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