Tracking the Cuts: The Dismantling of Our Public Schools

trackingCuts-web-600The Macon County News reports that Jackson County will have to dip into $500,000 of its general fund balance in order to pay for teacher positions, teacher pay raises and teacher assistants, thanks to a state budget that disinvests in public education for another year in a row.

In addition to county support, Jackson County has taken the initiative to start cutting positions in hopes of bracing for the impact of the lack of funding from the state.

“We have been cutting back on teacher assistant positions when possible because of the trend to not fund them,” said Dr. Murray [Jackson County Schools Superintendent]. “We have currently only done this through attrition or through transfers within our own district. The trend statewide will be to eliminate teacher assistants in all areas except K-1 classrooms. 

Like so many other educators across the state, Jackson County recognizes the need for teacher assistants and hopes that the state level will make changes soon. “Our teacher assistants are valuable members of our educational family,” said Dr. Murray. “They are used appropriately and help reduce our class size by working with students in small groups and assisting the teacher in providing differentiated instruction in the classroom.”

Rowan-Salisbury Schools made  a decision on how they will handle the state’s budget cuts to public schools — they laid off 46 employees last week.

Forty-six Rowan-Salisbury employees found out Friday they will be without a job this school year.

“Schools operate like families, so when you lose someone on your staff — for a school, it’s like losing a family member,” said Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody.

Due to state budget cuts and a dwindling fund balance, the district cut 79 positions — 18 district-wide personnel, 15 school-based personnel and 46 teacher assistants.

Of those 46 layoffs, 32 were teacher assistants. Many of those TAs doubled as school bus drivers (see my story about this issue here).

It’s not the first time Rowan-Salisbury has had to reduce its workforce.

Since the financial downturn in 2008, roughly 300 positions have been cut.

This time the cuts are because of reductions in state teacher assistant funding and the district’s fund balance.

The state budget called for a 22 percent, or $1.3 million, reduction in funding for teacher assistants.

Got more public school cuts resulting from the new state budget to report? Email me at lindsay@ncpolicywatch.com 

 

trackingCuts-web-600Members of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education approved a budget last week that eliminates 22 teacher assistant positions, thanks to a $911,000 budget shortfall handed down by state lawmakers.

According to chapelboro.com:

Assistant Superintendent for Support Services Todd LoFrese said that while the state budget would allow Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools to shift some money back into hiring TAs if so desired, the legislature slipped in some additional rules that would have resulted in eight more teacher losses than the school system could handle.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro also had to cut 4.5 gifted specialist positions and eliminate some custodial positions.

According to the Raleigh News & Observer, the city’s school system was able to move those TAs into other vacant positions, but classrooms in grades 4 and 5 will have to cope with less instructional support.

State budget cuts also forced Randolph County Schools to make reductions in force: that district cut 30 media assistant positions for the upcoming year.

RCS’ Public Information Officer Tim Moody said the district does have other vacancies available and it’s possible some of those media assistants were able to step into those jobs, but he wasn’t sure how many.

Each school in the district lost a media assistant position.

Gov. McCrory signed a 260-page budget bill earlier this month that spends $105 million less than what was previously budgeted for teacher assistants, even though he has repeatedly said he would only sign a budget that preserves all TA positions. 

School districts around the state are reporting that they have been forced to eliminate teacher assistants’ jobs and other positions thanks to budget shortfalls passed down to them by state lawmakers.

Do you know of budget cuts school districts are coping with as they begin the academic year? Send me an email at lindsay@ncpolicywatch.com 

trackingCuts-web-600Members of the Scotland County Schools Board of Education voted on Monday to cut teacher assistants’ hours to 88 percent for the upcoming school year as a way to save jobs while coping with state budget reductions.

To keep teacher assistants working 100 percent of the time, the county would have to deplete a large chunk of its fund balance. Cutting hours allows TAs to keep their jobs while enabling the county to avoid gutting its savings.

State lawmakers enacted a budget this summer that cuts teacher assistant funding by 22 percent, according to N.C. Department of Instruction CFO Philip Price.

That cut comes on top of years of funding cuts to TAs. In Scotland County last year, the district had to eliminate 44 teacher assistant positions, which included 25 layoffs.

Earlier this summer, Gov. Pat McCrory pushed back hard on Senate lawmakers’ wish to gut funding for teacher assistants, insisting he wouldn’t sign a budget that slashes TA jobs.

In the end, McCrory signed the budget last week and said he was happy to do it because it preserves all TA positions — yet many local districts are already reporting that they must cut teacher assistant jobs thanks to the budget he signed.

But just days after the budget was signed into law, I reported that McCrory is working with the school superintendents’ association to come up with a budget fix that would allow school districts to hold onto their TAs (see my story here).

Scotland County is coping with other education cuts handed down to them by the state lawmakers, which include:

  • $40,000 cut in state funding for at-risk students;
  • $38,000 cut in state funding for digital learning; and
  • $117,000 cut in state funding for driver’s education

The Philadelphia City Paper’s Daniel Denvir published this story today about a 12-year-old girl who began experiencing an asthmatic episode while at school, did not get the medical attention she needed because there was no school nurse available thanks to budget cuts, and died later that day.

While it cannot be determined for certain if the girl, 12-year-old Laporshia Massey, would have survived had a school nurse been on-site, we do know this much, according to the City Paper:

  • The School District of Philadelphia, long underfunded and now reeling from budget cuts implemented by Gov. Tom Corbett, has nearly 3,000 fewer staff members than it did in June.
  • Today, there are 179 nurses working in public, private and parochial schools, down from 289 in 2011.
  • Bryant Elementary, where Massey was attending school, only has one nurse on staff two days/week.
  • After the initial cuts, one protesting nurse at Bryant Elementary specifically warned that other staff were not competent to deal with asthmatic students in her absence.

North Carolina is dealing with its own school budget cut woes thanks to reduced spending on education by state lawmakers this year. We’re tracking the cuts local school districts have had to make — click here to read those accounts.

While I have not yet seen reports of eliminating school nurse positions, I have seen reports of eliminating school psychologist positions, in addition to teacher assistants, teachers, and administrative staff.

Do you have school budget cuts to report or stories to tell that are a direct consequence of reduced funds for your school? Let us know at lindsay@ncpolicywatch.com

Kannapolis City Schools reports that they had to eliminate 20 positions for 2013-14 thanks to reductions in state spending on education.

Ellen Boyd, KCS’ director for community relations, reported the following cuts to NC Policy Watch:

  • We eliminated 20 positions due to cuts in state funding. The positions are specified below. Only one person lost a job due to the reductions. We absorbed the other cuts through attrition and transferring personnel among our schools. However, as you can see, the cuts are significant and affect the school and classroom levels.
    • 7 regular classroom teacher positions
    • 5 EC teaching positions
    • 1 ESL teaching position
    • 2 Literacy Coach positions
    • 1 Math Coach position
    • 1 Spanish teacher position
    • 2 Teacher Assistant positions
    • 1 Health & Wellness Coordinator position
  • We cut $244,815 from our supply budget (72% of the supply budget)
  • We closed our Alternative Program location to save $125,000. Our alternative program is now operating inside of our high school instead of having its own separate site.

Click here to see our growing list of school districts that have been forced to make difficult cuts for the 2013-14 school year thanks to reductions in state-level education spending.