School superintendents get chance to talk about classroom cuts
School superintendents finally have a chance to talk about what happened to education funding over the last year.
Instead of waiting on state lawmakers to hold their own public hearings, the N.C. State Board of Education plans on holding their own forum on April 3 for K-12 educators to air their grievances about last year’s state budget cuts.
The forum, which is open to the public, will be held from 12:30 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 3 at Sheraton Imperial Hotel in Durham’s Research Triangle Park, before the scheduled state board meeting on April 4 and 5.
All 115 of the state’s superintendents are invited to come and talk about the cuts to education funding in their districts, and what measures they took in individual school districts, said Lynda Fuller, a spokeswoman for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. Cuts in education funding led to job losses for more than 500 teachers and close to 1,200 teacher’s assistants, according to DPI data.
Those job loss numbers are under attack by conservative groups, seen in a polished spin campaigns like “NC Real Solutions” that’s attempting to paint last year’s budget battle in a better light by implying that teaching jobs were added last year.
That’s been shown to be just a tad ingenuous – state funding for teaching jobs increased as federal stimulus money (as scheduled) has dried up, which shifted the funding responsibility back to the state. But more than 500 teachers still got pink slips, and 1,000s of other positions went unfilled as school administrators asked school personnel to do more with less as a result of cuts in funding.
This next year is expected to be worse on classrooms, with the rest of the federal recovery dollars for teacher’s going away. Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue has been traversing the state pushing her plan to bring back a 3/4-cent sales tax to pay for education, while leaders in the Republican-led legislature have stood their ground in opposing the tax increase.
The state board forum will be the first time school superintendents have been able to collectively talk about the effects of the state budget on their classrooms.
N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis told reporters shortly after the state budget was passed last year that he would invite superintendents to Raleigh to talk about how local school districts weathered the budget.
Months later, that’s still not happened.
But if he, N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger or any other legislators really want to hear what’s happening in the state’s public schools, they can come to the April 3 forum.
It’s open to the public — lawmakers included.