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Educators warn 5,500 “specialty” teaching jobs at risk if Senate fails to act on HB13 (video)

If you missed it this morning on the main Policy Watch website, make time to read Billy Ball’s latest on the push by educators and parents to get state Senators to take speedy action on a bill to avert a looming class size funding crisis.

As Ball reports:

Policy Watch has reported extensively on the class size bickering since last November. School district leaders say a GOP-authored budget mandate that schools trim class sizes in grades K-3 beginning with the 2017-2018 academic year will have major consequences in North Carolina public school districts without additional state funding or staffing flexibility for district leaders.

The state’s funding dilemma is complicated, but school leaders say a loss of flexibility over average and maximum individual classroom sizes in grades K-3 would force districts to hire thousands more teachers in core subjects.

To make space, districts would likely need to jettison teachers in “specialty” subjects such as arts, music and physical education, positions once funded separately by the state but now lumped in one block funding category.

Mark Jewell, president of the N.C. Association of Educators (NCAE), an organization that lobbies for K-12 teachers at the legislature, estimated Wednesday that school districts would be forced to lay off about 5,500 “specialty” teachers in arts, music and physical education.

“It’s going to devastate rural school districts who have a very difficult time recruiting teachers to begin with,” said Jewell. “It is definitely not providing our students in North Carolina a world class public school system that is guaranteed by our constitution.”

Smaller classes would also prompt a need for new classroom space in many schools and districts, with school administrators complaining they would need to spend millions in local dollars to boost school infrastructure or refit mobile classroom units.

House Bill 13 offers a temporary respite on those directives, returning district flexibility over average and maximum individual class sizes in K-3, although public school advocates say a long-term plan for saving teaching positions will require a major boost in the state’s investment in schools.

The NCAE’s Mark Jewell joins Chris Fitzsimon in the studio this weekend to discuss the pressure school districts will face without the passage of  HB 13.  For a preview of that radio interview, click below.

The read Billy Ball’s full story on the class-size crisis, click here.

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