Fewer students mean fewer teachers

September 2, 2009 3:50:22 PM PDT
Debra Nobles is one of the lucky teacher assistants at Margaret Willis Elementary School who still has a job.A lower than projected student enrollment across the Cumberland County school system means 77 teacher jobs and more than 100 teaching assistant positions may not be filled.

"Some of the people here have not been here very long but everyone is very valuable. And I've been here several years and even that, knowing I've been here for several years, the cuts could affect anyone," she said.

Federal stimulus money is helping some schools keep their assistants.

"However, we were not able to assign one teacher assistant to stay with one class all day or one group of students. We've had to rotate our teacher assistants and share them across all of the grade levels. So we tried to get the most bang for our buck," explained Principal Peggy Raymes.

Overall, 220 jobs have been cut from the school system. State funding is based on student enrollment during the first 60 days of school. Right now, the numbers suggest the school system may lose even more teaching positions.

"Right now we're not quite at 52,000. We're still at 51,000 plus range. And it was projected we would have about 53,000. We'll pick up some more students between now and the tenth day, so everything is still a projection right now," said Cumberland Associate Superintendent Ricky Lopes.

Administrators are waiting for the 20 day count to see if there's an increase. If so, they may be able to get some of those teaching positions back.

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