Local/State

Wake School Board: Budget could mean loss of 400 jobs

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

School leaders say Gov. Pat McCrory's proposed budget could mean less one-on-one time for struggling students and a higher student to teacher ratio in the classroom.

Parents and teacher advocates say it's a cut Wake County Schools simply can't afford.

"They're cutting away the fat and then there's cutting to the bone," said parent and PTA President Amy Jones.

Jones worries Wake County Schools will take a big hit if hundreds of teaching assistants lose their jobs.

This former teacher knows what it's like to go without the extra help.

"I was one adult in the classroom with 26 students," said Jones. "To be able to pull aside kids that need a little extra support or kids that need a little bit of extra challenge, that's very difficult to do if you're the only person in the classroom."

A $20.6 billion state budget proposal by McCrory eliminates 400 second and third grade teaching assistant positions in the school district, but adds 1,800 public school teachers over the next two years.

"They say they're going to add more certified teachers to lower classroom size, but then classroom size still goes up and you don't have a teacher assistant," said Jones.

Over the past six years, cash-strapped North Carolina schools have seen a billion dollars in cuts.

Mark Jewell says taking away highly qualified teaching assistants changes the landscape in a state that's been a leader in education.

"Every research shows that literacy at the prekindergarten, first and second grade level is crucial to how well and successful that student is going to be throughout their middle school and high school years," said Jewell, "and you need to be front-ending that type of instruction instead of cutting resources."

The North Carolina Association of Educators says they will fight the cuts.

"Our parents and our community are very concerned about this because they know their children, their learning is going to be compromised," said Jewell.

The proposal is not a done deal. The NCAE and Wake County School Board members say they're not backing down on the issue.

They're talking with the General Assembly and asking people to reach out to their legislators urging them to save the hundreds of teaching assistant positions now in question.

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Tags:
wake county, wake county schools, local/state, heather waliga
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