Amidst Budget Cuts, Haywood County Ends Childcare Program For Teachers

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After offering discounted childcare for teachers in the district for 14 years, Haywood County is ending the program that helped hundreds of teachers raise their families while teaching. District administrators blame state budget cuts, which have slashed $6 million from the annual budget for Haywood County Schools, for forcing the closure of the childcare program. Before the program ended, it had been an effective tool for recruiting the best teachers to Haywood County. The Smoky Mountain News has the story

Haywood County Schools plans to end a program that offered discounted childcare for school teachers. The program has been in place for 14 years.

The annual overhead costs and ongoing maintenance of the building that houses the childcare center is no longer affordable, according to Assistant Superintendent Dr. Bill Nolte.

“To maintain that facility is more than we feel like we can invest with ongoing budget cuts,” Nolte said. The school system has lost $6 million in annual funding since 2008, largely due to state cuts.

Haywood County Commissioner Mark Swanger lamented the end of the program. Swanger was on the school board when it was conceived and remembered one young teacher with twins who took a job in Haywood County because of the affordable child care.

“That was the deciding factor for her,” Swanger said.

Nolte agreed it was an excellent incentive, but is one the school system can no longer justify.

“We had more teachers at that time and had a significantly larger budget at that time,” Nolte said.

The number of teachers using the discounted childcare program has declined over the past decade. At its high-water mark, it served nearly 60 children of school system employees. That number is now around 35.

“We have had a pretty significant decrease in the number of teachers who use that program,” Nolte said.

It’s not surprising, given the loss of more than 100 teaching positions overall in Haywood County due to budget cuts over the past seven years.

But there’s other factors that have led to fewer teachers taking advantage of the child care incentive.

Fewer total teaching positions mean fewer job openings — and that means fewer young teachers being hired, who were more likely to have small children.

Also, job losses during the recession led to lower demand for childcare overall. In households with two working parents, if one lost their job, they didn’t need daycare anymore for their kids. It also became easier to tap out-of-work relatives to help with childcare.

 

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