Superintendents tell lawmakers: Cuts are 'cancer in our budget'

Posted April 19, 2012

— Members of the General Assembly brought in North Carolina school superintendents to speak about the effects of spending cuts in this year's budget and what they'd like to have for next year.

The Legislature's education oversight committee heard from school leaders in Alleghany, Jones, Lee and Winston-Salem/Forsyth counties at their meeting Thursday in Raleigh.

"Our teachers will continue to do everything they can. It’s in their blood … but you can only do so much before your creativity and innovativeness run out," said Lee County Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Moss. "The discretionary cut is a huge cancer in our budget."

Moss said he has lost about 45 positions and has had to remove some social workers and other support positions.

"We’ve reached the limit," he said. "We do want to partner with you. You can’t do it alone. We can’t do it alone."

"Numbers are crucial. Numbers are important," said Jones County Schools Superintendent Michael Bracy. "But we can’t forget the reason we are all here is because an educator helped us get where we are."

House Speaker Thom Tills said months ago lawmakers would hold legislative hearings with superintendents in districts that lay off teachers to find out why they did so. But no meeting had been scheduled until now.

Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue and Republican leaders, such as Tillis, have been at odds over the extent the budget law had upon local school personnel reductions. The Legislature returns to work next month to adjust the second year of the two-year budget.

If lawmakers don’t make changes when they hold their May budget session, school districts will have to absorb $332.6 million in cuts across the state. That would amount to roughly 4 percent of the funding state taxpayers put into education this year and comes on top of hundreds of millions of dollars taken out of school budgets over the past three years.

Republican lawmakers who control the General Assembly say they would like to blunt the effect of those looming cuts. But they cannot say how they'll do that, and they've rejected outright Perdue’s call for raising the state sales tax.

Specifics vary in each of North Carolina’s 115 school districts, and some administrators say they’ll be able to avoid job losses – this year. But virtually all will take steps they would rather not, such as making bus routes longer, spending from savings, and declining to fill positions when employees leave.


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  • Plenty Coups Apr 20, 2012

    "the US leads the world in spending per student, yet lags behind in performance"

    The country with the best results in the world is Finland. They have teacher unions and teacher's college education is pretty much paid for. Here in NC, we expect our teachers to get an expensive 4 year degree on their own, then pay them 25 to 70 thousand less than other jobs requiring the same level of education. Right now in NC, the teacher pay is near the bottom and it currently takes over 30 years of service for a teacher to make 50 thousand dollars in pay. This is terribly wrong and counter productive.

  • Plenty Coups Apr 20, 2012

    "You need to do your homework. The people who are beating us education wise spend LESS per student."

    As a percent of Gross Domestic Product, US education spending is 37th in the world. We also include health insurance spending which is about 8% of the total. Other countries don't. Most of the increases in educational spending have come because of Federal laws for special education services and student disability services. Regular education spending is shrinking. But most education spending is done at the state level and in NC, we lag badly behind most other states.

    U.S. education spending charts showing growth of special ed spending: (Tables, 9,10,11,21) are especially relevant

  • Bob3425 Apr 20, 2012

    btneast - while I believe your statement is true overall, I just wonder about much of the money is getting to the schools? I think admin cost are taking a large piece of it. We spend a lot of funds on educations but I don't think it is being spend wisely.

  • mustainemad Apr 20, 2012

    until parents are held accountable for their actions and the actions of their children, until discipline is allowed to return to our schools, until the curriculum is designed to meet to the highest standards and not cater to the lowest common denominator, money can be poured into the United States' educational system and it won't make one bit of difference in student achievement.

  • btneast Apr 20, 2012

    rest of the developing world spends more on their people and become a force to reckon with.

    You need to do your homework. The people who are beating us education wise spend LESS per student. The difference is they demand and get what they pay for, we don't.

  • btneast Apr 20, 2012

    We've all attended school - for 13 consecutive years - public shcools for 99% of us. But thanks anyway.

    Speak for yourself. I attended 12 consecutive years(excluding college). Kindergarten as a required grade is relatively new....depending on how old you are.

  • btneast Apr 20, 2012

    Your outdated, 1950s-era thinking of education will not compete with the Chinas and Indias of the world today who are pumping money into their educational systems and getting results.

    Actually, the US leads the world in spending per student, yet lags behind in performance. Pumping dollars blindly into education is not the answer, as we have proved beyond a doubt. The countries that are beating us have a completely different culture and mindset towards educating their children.

  • commonsense4 Apr 20, 2012

    How about cut the salaries of school superintendents?

    They are overpaid, and are responsible for horrible school systems across the whole state. We are amongst the lowest performing states, and it is no surprise with the large amount of hateful people in this part of the country.

  • Nancy Apr 19, 2012

    A great start for saving money would be to pare back the More at Four excessive spending, as studies show that the benefits disappear by grade 3.

    What was that figure (cost) per preschool program? Wasn't it above $8K per child? I believe that's excessive and if the "at risk" children were those in real need (special needs children) were funded alone, that would suffice.

  • storchheim Apr 19, 2012

    As if teachers or govt employees were the only ones whose contracts were ever broken. You think it's better in the private sector, then go work there, if you can find a job and if you're qualified.