As House and Senate lawmakers continue to fight over whether or not to fully fund early grade classroom teacher assistants for the upcoming school year, Governor Pat McCrory told education advocates and members of the business community at a NC Chamber of Commerce conference on Thursday that he wants to get the entire debate out of Raleigh.
“What I refuse to do is to get into the debate on the state making the decision for each school,” McCrory said of the need for teacher assistants, which he believes should be in every first, second and third grade classroom.
“What I think we ought to do in the budget,” said McCrory, who added that he expressed his views strongly to legislative leadership Thursday morning, “is that I think we ought to give the same set amount of money with the necessary increases due to the increase in students in North Carolina and let the schools decide if you want [teacher] assistants, if you want more teachers, or if you want a combination of both.”
Senate and House lawmakers are staring down the sixth week of a budget stalemate, thanks in part to their inability to come to a decision on whether or not to fire 8,500+ TAs in order to reduce classroom sizes in the early grades. The Senate wants to cut TAs, while the House wants to keep them funded at last year’s levels.
Teacher assistants gathered in Raleigh Thursday morning to decry the possible cuts, according to WRAL.
With school starting in many areas within the next week or two, many local districts have begun laying off TAs or avoiding making new hires while lawmakers delay making final budget decisions.
Lawmakers have passed two temporary spending measures to keep government operations going while they negotiate a final budget, but the measures lack $25 million in teacher assistant funds that existed during the prior year, forcing some districts to make calls on staffing TAs before a final budget has even passed.
McCrory said Thursday that every school has different needs, and it should be up to the local superintendents and principals to decide whether or not they need teacher assistants.
“I want to give you [local districts] as much flexibility as possible,” said McCrory. “I want to provide enough money where if teacher assistants are needed, they can hire teacher assistants. If they don’t want the teacher assistants, then they can hire more teachers.”