Cumberland teachers prep for class

CUMBERLAND COUNTY While a lot of counties are struggling to find teachers and money to pay them, the state's fourth largest system said their cuts were not as bad as first feared.

At the new Grays Creek Middle School Tuesday, teacher Lee Pittman was rushing to get his classroom ready for new students.

"We are probably going to have almost 30 to 40 extra students in several different classes we are going to be growing," he said.

Officials said there is not a teacher shortage at the school, because it is the new $19 million middle school with a high tech and international theme.

"We want the children to be on the cutting edge of global education and we have several international teachers in our school," Principal Sara Whitaker said.

On Tuesday evening, school board members discussed the $15 million cuts they faced in the new state budget.

Assistant Superintendent Ricky Lopes said 280 jobs were cut mostly through attrition and about a third of those were teachers.

"You may seen an increase of two or three students in a class so that is extra work on the teacher," said Ricky Lopes with Cumberland County Schools. "Obviously they have extra students, but the students and parent may not notice it."

But teachers said they have noticed there's no money in the state budget for pay raises and little for anything else.

"I've gone to all the penny sales the $0.05 sales," said Shanita Anderson, a seventh grade reading teacher. "I bring friends with me so I can get extras definitely the supplies are here."

School officials said for now, extra local funding and federal stimulus money will help. But they hope to have another plan in place by the time that money runs out in a couple of years.

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