Wake teacher rehiring slow

August 18, 2009 9:23:04 PM PDT
School officials met Tuesday to finalize cuts they had been preparing for, but there's still some confusion over whether there will be deeper cuts.The school board approved the nearly 5 percent budget cut they'd been planning. However, now they're trying to figure out if the newest executive order signed by the governor would cut the state agency budgets by another 5 percent.

It states that exceptions may be made to urgent situations related to direct classroom instruction.

It's that wording that Wake school leaders said they are worried about.

"The specific language says 'may be exempted,' it did not say will be exempted or shall be exempted," WCPSS Business Manager David Neter said.

The new state budget already cuts $35 million from Wake Schools.

For the most part legislators have dictated where the cuts would come from and the school has already done it.

They slashed hundreds of teaching assistants -mostly from the third grade have been eliminated- and no new textbooks will be ordered next school year.

Principals also said they haven't been able to rehire all the teachers they had to let go.

Even some classes are being cut, while others will be overcrowded.

"They'll do fine. That's the reality is that they'll do fine but the thought of going from 25, 26 to 30, 32, 34 students in a class, I choke when I say 34 in a class because that's a ridiculously large number but I have parents who I've said the class is closed it has 32 students and parents say please let one more in, let two more in, let three more in," Millbrook High School Principal Dana King said. "We're having to make some hard difficult decisions."

Despite the fact that some school teachers are starting to be rehired, the union president who represents them said that's not good enough.

In an emotional plea to the school board, Wake County North Carolina Association of Educators President Jennifer Lanane wanted to know why federal stimulus dollars were not saving more jobs.

She said the President Barack Obama and Governor Bev Perdue lied about stimulus money saving jobs, enough that everything would be okay.

Lanane said it's a mess and teachers deserve the truth.

She wants government leaders and school leaders to stop painting a rosy picture and stimulus money has not saved the day.

"Everything's not fine, everything's awful," Lanane said. "They're saying to me they have 37 kids in the classroom. They're teaching subjects they never thought they'd have to teach again, schools they never thought they'd be at. I have TA's in classrooms they've never been trained to be in. It's a mess. I know the federal government passed the buck to the state and state to you and you can't pass it because this is where it stops."

Wake County said stimulus dollars have saved special education jobs and have created nearly 50 new math positions. But there are still nearly 600 teachers who were let go earlier this year that haven't gotten a new contract.

Fourth grade teacher Hal Schwartz was first cut then rehired after his first year of teaching.

"I got a letter that said you've been named a finalist for "Beginning Teacher of the Year" for Wake County," Schwartz said. "Two days after that I received a letter saying, 'just to let you know, giving you a heads up, your contract is a terminating contract and we're probably going to have to let you go. In a matter of a few days it went from me being on top of the world to questioning the future."

He said he feels for his colleagues who still didn't know if they had a job. Only some are slowly starting to be rehired as school starts next week.

More teachers could be rehired based on tenth-day attendance. If there are more students than anticipated, the county will have to hire more teachers.


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