Teachers asked to choose pay cuts or furloughs

April 1, 2010 4:20:47 PM PDT
School districts across North Carolina are facing massive cuts as tax revenue continues to remain flat. Durham is no different. Officials say their latest numbers show they may have to cut as much as $20 million from the 2010-2011 budget.

"These are unprecedented cuts that we are facing next school year," said Interim Superintendent Hank Hurd in a news release. "We have received input from schools and talked with parent leaders but the fact remains that the cuts are so huge that they will definitely have an impact on the classroom."

School leaders have turned to county commissioners to ask for more money. A group of Durham principals recently sent the Durham County Commission a letter that asks it to, "consider the impact of financial decisions that may cause us to compromise the effectiveness of our instructional program that the Durham community has come to expect."

Hurd will present a proposed budget to the Board of Education on April 29. It includes a proposal to cut some 60 Central Services positions and 25 percent from Central Services program budgets, totaling approximately $3.5 million.

But the district also wants input from teachers. It sent out a survey that asks teachers to choose between permanent salary reductions or unpaid furloughs.

Click here to read the survey (.pdf)

The survey says teachers can save some of their colleague's jobs if they agree to one or the other.

One question says if teachers opt for a 2-day furlough, they can save 32 teaching positions. Another question says agreeing to a 5 percent salary reduction would save 180 jobs and a 7 percent cut would mean 249 jobs.

The survey warns teachers that the cuts would be permanent and could affect their retirement benefits.

Teachers who spoke with ABC11 Thursday said they were worried about potential pay cuts. A teacher earning $35,000 a year could lose up to $245 dollars a month.

"For some people, it's the difference between paying for their bills or paying for childcare or not being able to do that," explained teacher Rae Ann Baker.

Baker's not only an educator, she's also a mom who's concerned about the cutbacks that are already taking a toll.

"We want more people to come to Durham. We want economic growth. But without the people coming in and the schools to educate the kids, we're not going to have the growth. We can't keep doing it the way we're doing it," she said.

A public hearing on the school budget is scheduled for next month. The district must present its budget to the Durham County Commission by May 15. DPS has created a website that features the latest budget information.

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