CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The North Carolina legislature has sent its budget to Governor Bev Perdue’s desk, and it includes deep cuts for agencies around the state, including education.
The $19.7 billion spending plan passed the N.C. House by a vote of 73-45 early Saturday morning, matching a similar Senate plan. The budget cuts roughly 13,000 education jobs statewide, including nearly 9,300 in public schools.
In Mecklenburg County, School Board Chairman Eric Davis said the board is waiting to hear what Mecklenburg County Commissioners will give them Tuesday night before determining who loses their jobs.
Davis said if commissioners give CMS the $26 million (above last year’s funding) they agreed on in a straw vote, it could preserve 400 teachers’ jobs – 260 in grades 4-12, and another 140 used for weighted student staffing. It would probably not be enough to save the jobs of 328 teacher assistants, 80 pre-K teachers, and support positions in some schools.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board member Kaye McGarry, a fiscal conservative, thinks the state budget is a step in the right direction.
“I think the state’s done a very good job and we need to live within our means,” said McGarry Saturday.
Here are a few of the cuts outlined from the state:
- $13.3 from dropout prevention programs
- $92.2 million from textbook purchases
- $42 million for instructional supplies
- more from teacher training, student testing, and support programs that include everything from school janitors to counselors.
One area the state did agree to fund – additional teachers to help reduce class sizes in the early grades. Grades 1-3 will get 1,124 additional teachers to help reduce class sizes to 17 students per teacher in those grades.
Nicole Kidd, a CMS first grade teacher, likes that idea. Her current class has 24 students.
“Having 17 kids in a group will make it a lot easier for groups working with them,” said Kidd. In first grade, that’s important, she said. “It’s the big foundation of phonics and reading and with classes that big I feel I don’t get to cover everybody that I want to.”
Her mother-in-law, Judy Kidd, the president of the NC Classroom Teachers Association, helped advise leaders on the Senate budget. “We’re pleased that teachers are going to be restored, and we're very pleased testing on the high school level is reduced,” she said.
Judy Kidd said she hopes CMS restores as many teachers as possible to the classroom, even if it means cutting more administration jobs. She compares schools to a tree where teachers are the roots and administrators are the top branches. “When you start cutting in the classroom the way the Char-Meck is doing, we're going to see less growth. We need to see the top be trimmed,” she said.
Governor Perdue has said she would veto a budget that hurts education, but lawmakers say they have enough votes to override a veto.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.