Educators voice support for public education in Raleigh

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Thousands upon thousands of teacher assistants could be fired from the job as the General assembly mulls over money for next fiscal year. If the Senate's budget proposal is passed, it would be the largest layoff in North Carolina history.

The North Carolina Association of Teacher Assistants rallied Tuesday at the General Assembly. State Secretary Melinda Zarate says teacher assistant do not make a lot of money as it is, and now they're stressed there may not even be a paycheck.

"You cannot imagine how disheartening it is not only because we love what we do, but because this is our income," said Zarate. "[A paycheck] is what we depend on to live. I'm a single person. I need my money. I'd like to be able to pay my house payment."

About 8,500 jobs could be eliminated under the Republican-led Senate budget proposal. The cuts would occur over two years. In return, Senate leaders are pushing for smaller class sizes, some teacher pay raises, and thousands of new teacher positions created.

The House's version of the budget would essentially keep funding intact.

Legislators have until August to work out a deal, but at least one district isn't waiting and has handled out pink slips.

"A county up in the Piedmont area has let go all their second grade assistants already just based on the proposal," said Zarate.

Gov. Pat McCrory is weighting in and said principals, not lawmakers, should be making this decision. McCrory says every district has different needs. He suggests dispersing the money and allowing school administrators to decide what positions to spend the money on in their budget.

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