Wake County Schools

Blog: Wake school board votes to reduce teacher assistant pay

Posted July 12, 2011

Wake County Public School System

7 p.m. – Board drops company that handles assessment software:

The Wake County school board was asked to renew a contract with Blue Diamond Information Solutions, but instead voted 5-4 to drop the company.

The original contract began in 2008. The company provides software that helps teachers create and score student assessments and other reports. John Tedesco and others raised concerns about the cost involved and failure to look into other more affordable options. The new contract would have cost Wake schools $209,000. Chairman Ron Margiotta says he thinks they will be able to find a much cheaper option at around $20,000.

6:30 p.m. – Reduction in force:

After discussion in Tuesday afternoon's work session, Chief Business Officer David Neter officially asked the board to reduce contract lengths for teacher assistants. They would keep their jobs and full benefits, but get a pay reduction. TA's will only stay home on days when students are not in the classroom. Neter said it will save Wake County schools about $2.4 million.

Before the vote, board member Anne McLaurin said the board fell short by not asking the county for additional funding. Board member Debra Goldman also raised concerns about making cuts to such a valuable group of employees. 

Board member Kevin Hill proposed, and the board approved, an amendment to say the change will only be in effect until the next budget year.

The school board voted 7-1 to reduce pay for teacher assistants. McLaurin voted no.

6 p.m. – Public comment:

Jennifer Mansfield, who is running for school board against incumbent Kevin Hill, raised concerns about the proposed blue choice plan for student assignment that is moving forward. Mansfield questioned whether parents who participated in the online survey and test drive really had enough information to answer the questions. She also raised concerns about the designated achievement schools under that plan and whether they would be able to effectively address achievement gaps.

The public comment portion of full school board meeting began just before 6 p.m. The second person to step up to the mic Tuesday evening criticized the budget proposal to reduce teacher assistants  pay. Vickie Adamson of Raleigh said that if one of the lowest pay grades has to take a hit, upper management and the school board should have to take a salary cut too. The board is expected to vote reduce the length of TA contracts which would mean a pay cut.

5 p.m. – Grading practices:

Wake County public schools' staff reviewing the current system found inconsistencies in grading, including differences in the same subject within the same school from one teacher to the next. They are looking for better ways to streamline grading across the board.

Board member Deborah Prickett recommended going back to letter grades for students in third through fifth grade to help better evaluate and place students transitioning from elementary to middle school. A committee looking at the grading issue plans to dig in deeper and get back to the board.

4:45 p.m. – Building new schools:

Board vice-chairman John Tedesco recommended they focus on reducing the number of existing mobile classrooms on campuses first. He argued that should be factored in when considering what overcrowding really looks like before deciding how to spend money and where to build the new schools. Chairman Ron Margiotta agreed and asked Chief Facilities and Operations Officer Don Haydon to bring those revised numbers to the next meeting.

Haydon reviewed plans with the board for building new schools over the next several years to ease overcrowding. Proposals include building some additional modular ninth grade centers in the interim until some new high school renovations can be completed. Haydon mentioned one potential snag when it comes to the newly proposed choice plan for student assignment. He raised the question of whether parents would still choose modular schools without knowing when their students might end up in a new building.

4 p.m. – More job cuts on the way:

Chief Business Officer David Neter updated the board on what the final state budget means for Wake County schools. Neter told the board the final budget will add about one teacher for each Wake County elementary school, but said the overall reduction will require more staff cuts.

Earlier this summer, Wake County cut 46 central service positions, one clerical position from each school and reduced assistant principals' contracts/pay.

Neter says they will have to cut another $5 million from the school budget and proposed cutting custodial services to meet that. He recommends cutting 70 custodial positions and reducing outside custodial contracts by 35 percent. Classrooms would be cleaned less often, and teachers and principals will have to help pitch in with some of the duties.

Board members Anne McLaurin and Debra Goldman both raised concerns about the possible health impact on students when classroom aren't as clean.

Students may also have to start paying to take drivers education. Neter will ask the board to vote to charge students $45 to take drivers education to make up a state budget reduction in that area. He will also ask the board to reduce teachers' assistant contracts from 10 months to 9.25 months. That means a pay reduction and that teachers' assistants will only be at school when the students are there.

3 p.m. – Wake school board convenes:

School board members gathered in the conference room Tuesday for their first July work session. The board is expected to be asked to approve more job cuts to meet the budget shortfall. Chief Business Officer David Neter says hundreds of additional jobs, mostly custodial positions, will likely have to be cut.

Board attorney Ann Majestic began the meeting with an update on changing discipline policies. The board has been discussing dropping the zero-tolerance policy for some offenses. The idea is to reduce the number of out-of-school suspensions to keep more students in the classroom when possible.

One of the first changes up for discussion was whether students should be suspended for skipping school or excessive tardiness. The current policy allows it, but board members want to remove that punishment for that offense.

They also talked about changing long-term suspensions for level two offenses to be up to five days instead of up to the 10 day maximum that is on the books now.

The board is also changing the appeal process by creating a hearing panel to review each case and and originally planned to have it made up of three retired educators. Superintendent Tony Tata recommended creating a panel made up of one current central service employee, one current school administrator and one retired educator instead. Tata told the board it would be more cost effective to use current employees rather than contract more from the outside.


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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jul 13, 2011

    @whatelseisnew, public money is not your money, nor is it the property of people with kids.

    There are no refunds! If you don't use the government service of public schools, too bad! If you don't go to public parks, no refunds! Stop sticking your hand out! This is not YOUR money. Never was.

    If you are unable or unwilling to see the “do unto others” part in all this, maybe this example will help.

    What would you say if I used a public school voucher to send my children to the Satan-Is-Lord Worship School...or Islamic Jihad Training Camp School...or Baptist Men-Have-Dominion-Over-Women Academy?

    Would you care if NC started subsidizing these schools? Do you think this might be a church-state problem somehow?

    Would you want even your 50 cents of public money going to these places?

    Now you know how we feel about your schools.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jul 13, 2011

    @nancy, according to the link you provided, homeschool tests can be adminstered and graded by the parents, the results have to only be kept for one year and the state only inspects 20% (that’s 1 out of 5) of the homes. Meanwhile, all of the public schools have all of their results scrutinized, counted and tabulated. And, just think of the wide range of mental abilities and motivations of the general public. Now, add in the fact that there are 30 children per teacher.

    Even with all that, public schools continue to perform as well as private and homeschools. (Plenty Coups provided some good data proving that point.)

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jul 13, 2011

    aetius476, if you really think teachers are “pampered”, you clearly have no understanding about what goes on in a public school.

    Why not shadow teacher for a day? Then, come back and tell us how you were so totally wrong and now understand how important teaching is and how difficult and unappreciated it is. If that’s too much, just close your eyes and imagine yourself at the front of highschool English class...and think about all of the teaching and non-teaching tasks that you’d have to perform to keep their attention, hold their respect and actually teach them something...every day.

  • Plenty Coups Jul 12, 2011

    perinamom-"Plenty Coups-just because a kid lives in the inner city you think they are not motivated?? really? it works both ways"

    Please. Its not even up for serious debate over overall motivation levels for children of poverty vs. more affluent kids. Sure there are exceptions but the data year after year shows affluent schools blow poorer schools consistently out of the water in test scores. You have to compare apples to apples. Would you go hang out in downtown NYC at midnight under the premise that just because I'm in an inner city doesn't mean I won't get robbed/hurt etc? Give me a break.

  • Plenty Coups Jul 12, 2011

    Nancy-A"ctually, their standards are no different on testing:"

    "North Carolina's law addressing the annual nationally standardized testing "

    Sory, notice in your quote where it says "nationally standardized"? NC public school students take EOGs and EOCs as well as the NAEP. They don't take the "nationally standardized" tests that home schoolers take and their teachers don't get to see it ahead of time.

  • Plenty Coups Jul 12, 2011

    perinamom-Yes, the home schoolers love to defend their system.Typically most home schooled kids would do well anyway in any system. They do have good test scores but they also take national tests that they can order and administer themselves (not state EOGs/EOCs). There is no state wide accountability or safeguards against cheating. My neighbor across the street does this and finds out ahead of time what questions will be on the test then gears her instruction for these questions. Her friend (also a homeschooler does this as well) Any public school teacher would be fired for this.

    But again, if you control for the variables, public schools do the same or better (especially in math) than private schools. The data is clear.

    Yet another study:

  • taylor3297 Jul 12, 2011

    perinamom- homeschooled students tend to do well due to having involved parents who value education and more one on one instruction. Private schools can pick and choose who they want to educate. Many do not offer special services to students who may need it.

    Public schools are required by law to educate everyone, no matter what the background of the student.

  • employeenc Jul 12, 2011

    Instead of reducing the pay they should have just laid off a percentage and kept the others at full pay. How stupid. They should have been home anyway if kids weren't in the classrooms. What were they doing?

  • Nancy Jul 12, 2011

    "Yeah, that's right...start at the bottom. How about starting with some cuts at the top in the admin offices for a change?? "

    Yes, an additional (already cut within the last 6 months) $800,000 in admin cuts are a part of this latest round of cuts.

  • Nancy Jul 12, 2011

    "Really? Homeschooled kids don't take state mandated tests so you really can't compare."

    Actually, their standards are no different on testing:

    "North Carolina's law addressing the annual nationally standardized testing of non-public school students (both home and conventional) makes no exceptions for any reason. "

    source: http://www.ncdnpe.org/FAQs/hhh114s.aspx#A