Teacher cuts likely due to deeper budget cuts

April 26, 2011 6:51:45 PM PDT
The Wake County Public School System had planned for a five percent cut, but the budget version in the House is calling for a nine percent reduction.

"We're gonna have to find places to cut and we're worried," school board member Chris Malone said.

Malone is worried about more job losses in the school system as the budget makes its way through the state legislature.

We may not have to cross this," said David Neter, WCPSS chief business officer. "We may, but we need to have a plan in place in case we do."

The House version is calling for $500,000 in additional cuts to central services. That's on top of the already planned elimination of 46 clerical positions -- 26 of which are filled.

It's also seeking to reduce the employment contracts for assistant principals by an additional 120 months. As it stands, teachers seem safe, but the House wants to cut the number of contract months for teachers' assistants.

"We've done a lot, we did at least five percent of cuts where we didn't touch a single teacher, but some of the House measures are prescriptive," board member John Tedesco said.

School board members say if the Senate's version of the budget calls for even deeper cuts, they may have to look at reductions that affect teachers.

"I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I think it's likely and there's no place to hide in this budget," Malone said.

Superintendent Tony Tata says he knows protecting classrooms will be challenging if the legislature goes above the five percent reduction they already planned. He's concerned but committed to exploring alternatives.

"We're looking under every rock, we're looking everywhere on how to get to the number, whatever the number may be, that we're given," Tata said.

Board members also discussed transportation costs and are trying to figure out how to deal with soaring gas prices. Three options are on the table including a reduction in school bus service.

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