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August 9, 2013

Stanly County School Board trims teaching assistant hours

Move keeps all employed, leaves some posts vacant

Thursday, August 8, 2013 — All the current employees of Stanly County Schools will return when the doors open for the new school year.

But, some will be working shorter hours than usual and one board member called the budget situation which precipitated the move “a monster of our own creation.”

The Stanly County Board of Education voted 7-2 to adopt Superintendent Dr. Terry Griffin’s budget option that would cut teacher assistants’ hours by 30 minutes per school day.

Grffin said that would save $158,500 toward the $600,000 shortfall the system was hit with when the final funding numbers from the state came through.

The approved recommendation also does not fill six positions that were vacant, including one receptionist position, one custodian position and four teacher assistant positions.

There will also be a $75,000 transfer from the textbook budget and another $75,000 transferred from the Fund 8 line item, which is a line item used for grants and special funding items.

Board member Grant Allen made the motion to accept the recommendations with the second made by board member Lonnie Chandler.

Allen also made the motion in the finance committee meeting prior to the board’s general session to recommend the superintendent’s option to the full board.

Finance committee members Mike Barbee and Vicky Watson voted against the proposal just as they had done in the finance committee meeting before the general session.

The board’s vote came with little discussion after only a few questions were given to Griffin and Finance and Auxiliary Services Director Bill Josey.

Barbee was the most vocal and pointed during the finance meeting expressing his “aggravation” the board is having to deal with the funding shortfall.

He said there were several positions that were not really teacher assistant posts being paid out of the assistant budget line item.

“I found there were 11, and probably close to 20, were being paid out of the teacher assistant allotment (that aren’t serving as assistants),” Barbee said.

Griffin explained the allotment is based on the enrollment in grades K-12, but the system is not mandated on where those positions can be used.

Barbee said it was his understanding there was such a mandate and he referred to information he had gotten “from the state education website.”

“We were planning on an allotment of $47,920,089 and what the state actually gave us was $47,757,442. That is $162,647 in shortfall ­– not $600,000,” Barbee said.

“We had been told through all the finance committee meetings we’ve had that in the worst case scenario, we’re going to be in good shape.”

Josey later explained in the general session that when the additional personnel costs including unemployment and insurance were put into the equation, it did bring the amount to $600,000.

“I guess I’m really shocked after all these finance meetings we had prior to school starting back saying we’d be in good shape, and now we’re caught with our pants down, and I’m a little aggravated with it,” Barbee said.

“We have created a monster and we need to straighten it out without putting the burden on these teacher assistants who aren’t making much anyway.”

Barbee said he “honestly felt there were other places we could have cut to save money and not do this to (the assistants).”

To submit story ideas, contact Brian Graves at (704) 982-2121 or brian@ stanlynewspress.com.

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