Tata says no classroom cuts for Wake

June 17, 2011 4:05:44 PM PDT
Wake County Public Schools Superintendent Tony Tata said Friday more cuts are coming - but for this year at least - the classroom is safe.

That makes him the second local school leader to say cuts to teachers and teacher assistants may not be as bad as originally thought.

That's despite recent comments from Governor Beverly Perdue that the budget passed over her veto this week by the Republican controlled General Assembly will be a major blow for education.

"As I've reviewed the General Assembly's plan about how North Carolina should run for the next two years, I've found an ideologically driven budget that rips at the classroom," said Perdue Sunday.

But Tata said there are some good things in the budget.

"The budget provided additional funding for grade one through three teachers and restored funding for teacher assistants," he said at a news conference Friday.

Durham County's superintendent agrees with Tata that his district is better off in the classroom than initially thought, though the news isn't all good.

"While additional resources are provided as it relates to teachers, you also have a significant increase in the discretionary reduction that schools will have to implement," said Dr. Eric Becoats.

Three times what was anticipated in fact. In Wake County, it will mean more clerical and transportation cuts in addition to another $850,000 central office administration cuts beyond what was included in the original budget.

"Which will likely require further reduction in force," said Tata.

The Governor's office said while Wake and Durham may be able to save teachers and teaching assistants this year, small counties won't be as fortunate.

In fact, Cumberland County officials did not paint so rosy a picture this week when they said their district faces a double whammy of state and federal cuts that will mean more than 100 teachers will lose their jobs.

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The Governor's office said her budget proposal would have guaranteed no loss of teachers. It also said losing support staff does affect students.

Tata refused to be drawn into that debate Friday.

"We're gonna find a way to have the best possible instructional support for our students. And I'm not gonna get involved in political statements here," he said.

But Superintendent Becoats said this week he agrees with the governor that the state budget damages education, and there are already rumblings that 2012 could be worse.

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