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June 6, 2014

Senate budget cuts $2M from SCS

Stanly could lose 4.5 teachers, 47 teaching assistants, drivers’ education

Thursday, June 5, 2014 — If the N.C. Senate’s proposed budget sticks, Stanly County Schools would lose more than $2 million toward the next school year.

Bill Josey, Stanly County Schools’ finance director, briefed the Board of Education Tuesday night about how the Senate’s proposed budget would adversely impact the school system. It calls for Stanly to lose 4.5 teachers, 47 teaching assistants, and funding for its drivers’ education program.

“Needless to say, this is not good news,” said Jeff Chance, school board chairman.

The good news is that teachers will get pay increases for only the second time since 2008, when they got a 1.2 percent hike. Even the refreshing news, however, comes with a caveat, Josey said.

The N.C. Senate passed its proposed $21.2 billion budget Friday night in a 32-15 vote, mostly along party lines. N.C. Sen. Gene McLaurin, D-Richmond, was the only Democrat to side with Republicans in favor of the budget that has drawn public criticism from Gov. Pat McCrory. “The governor’s budget was not nearly as bad,” Josey said.

“We’ve got to hope the House comes back with a budget more like the governor’s.”

The Senate budget addresses the state’s lagging teacher salaries with nearly $470 million toward teacher raises. Teachers will receive an average increase of 11 percent. It’s 20 percent for those with eight years experience.

In order to qualify for the raise, teachers must forfeit their tenure and longevity pay. Teachers who refuse will not get the raises in the budget year that begins July 1.

The proposed budget cuts $233 million from teaching assistants. Teaching assistants will no longer be funded for second and third grade classrooms. Only teaching assistants for kindergarten and first grade classes will be state funded.

Drivers’ education could face changes since the proposed budget will no longer pay for course expenses, or $169,000 for Stanly County Schools.

When asked how the system would address the funding loss, Josey said it remains up in the air at this time.

“We’ll have to make additional cuts or ask the kids to pay,” he said.

Stanly County Schools could also lose $41,700 in salaries from the central office.

News of the system’s budget planning left the board more uncertain about its budget with less than a month to go before approving a final draft.

Superintendent Terry Griffin’s proposed budget called for a county appropriation of nearly $700,000. County Manager Andy Lucas’ budget, however, earmarks roughly $250,000, or $450,000 less than requested, toward the school system’s request.

The Board of Commissioners are set to have a public hearing during Monday night’s scheduled meeting. At that time, commissioners could tweak Lucas’ recommended budget and add to the schools’ appropriation.

The N.C. House should have its version of a budget completed by next week.

Neither McLaurin nor N.C. Rep. Justin Burr, R-Stanly, returned telephone messages for comments on this story.

The school board is set to meet June 26 to approve its budget.

To submit story ideas, contact Ritchie Starnes at (704) 982-2121 ext. 28 or email ritchie@stanlynewspress.com.

 

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