Superintendents Concerned with NC Senate Education Budget
RALEIGH, NC -- Robbing Peter, to pay Paul.
The North Carolina Senate is proposing a budget that would give teachers a big raise. But that plan comes with a heavy hit to our schools.
WCCB Charlotte talked with three local superintendents to get their reaction.
"Increasing class sizes. Thousands of layoffs across our state. Students being on buses longer. I don't know anybody who says they support that. So why would our state legislators put us in that position?" says Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison.
There is strong support for the $469 million in the senate budget for teacher raises, but superintendents from the state's 10 largest school districts are worried about cuts in other areas to pay for it.
"We've got to increase the pay for teachers, but we can't do it on the back of their co-workers who they need to be successful," says Gaston County Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Booker.
That's the catch. The Senate proposal would give teachers raises ranging from 1 to 20 percent, but also cut nearly $130 million in funding for the state's 10 largest districts.
Cuts would include:
*$94 million in teacher assistant funding (or more than 3,200 positions)
*More than $21 million for classroom teachers (425 jobs)
*More than $13 million in transportation funding
And these proposed cuts come at a time when local school districts are growing.
"In Union County, we're scheduled to gain over a thousand students next year," says Union County Schools Superintendent Dr. Mary Ellison. "And gaining over a thousand students, and taking a 7.2 or 7.3 million dollar cut. And taking it on the backs of the very people we depend on."
The Senate plan may mean more money for teachers, but it might not be enough to stem the flow of educators leaving the state. Especially if other states can offer more smaller class sizes and all the support services.
"They will be able to offer reasonable class sizes. They will be able to offer teacher assistants to help our teachers do the important work they are being asked to do," says Morrison.
Local teachers and teacher assistants plan to speak out against the budget plan Thursday afternoon. They are holding a rally near Lebanon Road Elementary school at 3:45pm.