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With class size bill stalled, job losses announced in Guilford County Schools

With a state House-approved fix to North Carolina’s imminent class size controversy seemingly stalled in the N.C. Senate, it’s worth noting that promised job losses have begun in one of the state’s largest school systems.

Fox8 News in High Point is reporting that 50 teacher assistants are being laid off in Guilford County Schools, with promises of more lay-offs should the legislature fail to act on modifications to the state’s mandated K-3 class sizes.

From the Fox8 News report:

The cuts are to make room for the new teachers needed to meet a smaller class-size mandate passed by the general assembly.

“Reducing teacher assistant positions is just one of many difficult decisions we are making to manage the anticipated budget shortfall,” the release reads in part. “If the proposed adjustment to the class-size reduction mandate (HB 13) is not approved by the state legislature, we will have to make additional cuts and further redirect resources simply to make ends meet.”

Workers who lose their position will receive a personal notice from their principal and human resources department by the end of the year, the release states. The district will then work with each employee to potentially find another position inside the school system.

The news comes one day after a Guilford County Schools leader told Policy Watch the inactivity in the state Senate will have major impacts on staffing in the state’s third-largest school system.

Linda Welborn

“I am sure positions will be lost. Because we won’t have a choice,” Guilford Board of Education member Linda Welborn said.

Welborn’s comments were included in a Policy Watch report on the thousands of teacher and teacher assistant jobs statewide in jeopardy as state lawmakers and education advocates tangle over class sizes in Raleigh.

In order to fund the new teaching positions required of the state’s mandate for smaller class sizes in kindergarten through third grade, school leaders say many districts will likely have to reallocate resources by nixing jobs for teacher assistants and “specialty” teachers in arts, music and physical education.

Districts will also have to spend big to increase their physical infrastructure to accommodate new classes.

Proposed relief to the state directive taking effect next school year remains mired in the clogged Senate Rules & Operations Committee.

Committee Chairman Bill Rabon’s office Policy Watch this week that the committee would not be considering any House-approved bills such as the class size fix until the legislature’s bill crossover deadline April 27.

However, it’s worth noting that the committee was set to vet two House-approved bills on unemployment insurance and a controversial shrinking of the state Court of Appeals this morning.

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