Where do teachers' jobs stand?

August 10, 2009 9:27:16 PM PDT
A decision to rehire hundreds of teachers in Mecklenburg County has leaders in Wake County in the hot seat.In Wake County, traditional calendar schools start in two weeks and some 1,500 teachers and other school employees still don't know if they will have jobs.

"The funding is very dicey at this point," said Michael Evans with Wake County Schools. "We're trying to look at the details."

Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools had to lay off more than 600 teachers last spring, then the superintendent said just last week that many would be hired back. But that's not the case in Wake County.

"We have not discussed laying teachers off," Evans said. "There are teachers with terminating contracts who may not be renewed."

Governor Bev Perdue agreed last week to a budget that cuts $225 million from schools, but she insists schools should not cut teaching jobs since they are getting federal stimulus money.

"If X county received X dollars, and the purpose and intent of the money was to protect the classroom, then I want to see where the money goes," Perdue said on Friday. "I've asked them to follow up in a month and find out what the money is actually being spent on."

Wake County will get $40 million over the next two years in stimulus money. However, county officials said the money has been earmarked for at risk kids and special education children.

"Federal money is highly restricted and highly regulated," Evans said. "And we will of course account for every nickel that we spend."

Despite that, the county will hire 45 math coaches. But some said hiring teachers for the sake of keeping teaching jobs was not the top priority.

"We're trying to be more fiscally conservative and use the money short-term that while we have it to build the capacity we have a need for right now," Evans said.

Even though the district will raise class sizes in grades fourth and fifth by two students, administrators decided there was enough money to hire at least another 100 elementary teachers for the fall.

Bigger decisions about 1,400 more school employees will come in eight days from the Wake County School Board.


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