Local Superintendent Details Cuts to Teacher Assistants and Other Areas
The Sanford Herald has an interview with Lee County Schools Superintendent, Dr. Andy Bryan. In it he talks about the cuts to teacher assistants and other areas that his local district is trying to cope with. From their article,
Initial reports indicated that teachers would receive a 7 percent average salary increase. But after a closer reading, that increase also includes money that teachers were already receiving as longevity pay.
Because most of the salary increases are dedicated to the first 10 years of the teacher salary scale, the most experienced teachers received the smallest salary increases.
Obviously, we want to attract and retain new teachers; however, we also want to keep our most experienced teachers in classrooms. This is one of the reasons why teacher raises are such an important issue. North Carolina is losing outstanding teachers to other states because they offer higher salaries.
What can you tell us about cuts/special provisions in this budget for public schools?
Unfortunately, there are significant cuts. Funding for teacher assistants was cut 22 percent. That is the equivalent of 22 positions in Lee County. Knowing that the legislature might eliminate teacher assistants to fund teacher raises, we did not fill vacancies in the spring and summer as they opened up. Consequently, we will handle our teacher assistant cuts through attrition — none of our current teacher assistants will lose a job. State funding also was cut for at-risk students and transportation.
The budget also eliminated supplements for teachers who earn master's degrees. Teachers who had not earned at least one course of credit towards a master's degree prior to August 2013 will no longer be eligible for a supplement when they finish their degree. This will certainly decrease the number of teachers who pursue a master's degree and means that our most educated teachers — as well as our most experienced — will not be rewarded.
The legislature also placed provisions in the budget for the following year. Starting next spring, school districts will no longer get automatic increases to fund growth in school enrollment. Knowing that funding for growth was guaranteed allowed us to recruit and fill teacher positions in the spring. With this change, we will have to wait until after the General Assembly adjourns each year to hire additional teachers. The funding for growth also will have to compete with all the other needs the state has during the budget process. This provision is a major change for school districts and makes the budget process even more difficult.
Finally, this budget eliminates state funding for driver's education courses taught at the high school level for the 2015-16 school year.
This is just more evidence that claims by Berger, Tillis and McCrory that this budget doesn't cut teacher assistants are patently false.