School leaders scrambling to fill budget gaps

CUMBERLAND COUNTY As budget deadlines approach the fiscal scramble is on. School leaders in Cumberland County are dealing with a potential $30 million budget shortfall.

Superintendent Frank Till says the lack of state money means about 130 classroom positions have been frozen, while another 80 part-time teachers won't get those jobs back next year.

"Each year we have people that we hire part-time and everything else such as that and ... are they hired at the end of the first of the year because somebody goes on maternity leave and things such as that," Superintendent Till said. "At the end of the year those people were automatically notified that they don't have a job automatically next year. And we encourage them to go the job fair."

Till says those individuals have a good chance of getting another job at a different school next year.

In fact, based on his calculations, the system should be able to hire about 250 teachers for next year - that's about 150 less teaching positions than is normally brought on board each year.

Still, the impact will be felt in the classroom.

"Well, long term for us it means that for this year we're going to raise class size," Superintendent Till said. "We're still going to be lower than the state average. I'm still pleased with that. And so it's just one step in the process. If we knew more of what was going to occur between the legislature and the Governor ... we could be more definitive as to what we're going to do."

In addition to the teacher cuts, the superintendent says he's cut about a dozen administrative positions and several central office positions have also been cut. So the budget crunch is not only being felt in the classroom it being felt system-wide.

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