Wake County Schools

Wake school board votes to reduce teacher assistant pay

Posted July 12, 2011
Updated July 13, 2011

Wake County Public School System
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— The impact of state budget cuts on Wake County public schools dominated the school board agenda Tuesday. After a lengthy discussion in the afternoon work session, the board voted 7-1 in favor of cutting pay for teacher assistants. Board member Anne McLaurin was the lone "no" vote. 

Chief Business Officer David Neter asked the board to reduce contract lengths for teacher assistants from 10 months to 9.25 to help make up the budget shortfall. They will keep their jobs and full benefits, but get a pay reduction.

Teacher assistants 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.

“There is going to be some pain on the part of all teachers' assistants, but at least none of them are going to be eliminated," board Chairman Ron Margiotta said. 

Before the vote, 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.

During the public comment portion, Raleigh resident Vickie Adamson asked, “If the Wake County Public School System is going to force the lowest paid group to take a pay cut, should upper management, the highest paid group, not take a cut as well?”

Wake school board reduces teacher assistant pay Wake school board reduces teacher assistant pay

The board approved an amendment, proposed by board member Kevin Hill, saying the change will only be in effect until the next budget year.

Earlier in the day, Neter told the board they will have to cut another $5 million from the school budget. He proposed cutting custodial services, recommending eliminating 70 custodial positions and reducing outside custodial contracts by 35 percent. The actual number of people cut could be greater depending on how many part-time custodians are impacted. Classrooms would be cleaned less often, and teachers and principals will have to help pitch in with some of the duties.

McLaurin and Goldman both raised concerns about the possible health impact on students when classrooms are not as clean.

Neter also proposed requiring students to pay $45 to take drivers education. The state budget reduced drivers ed funding, but allows school systems to charge a fee to help make up the difference.

“If we don't accommodate that $45 expenditure, we will have to look for it somewhere else," Margiotta said.

The board will be asked to vote on the fee and custodial job cuts in August.

Wake County schools already cut 46 central service positions, one clerical position from each school and reduced assistant principals' pay to help make up the budget gap. Superintendent Tony Tata's budget planned for a 5 percent cut in state funding. The final cut is closer to 6 percent.

School discipline policies

Board attorney Ann Majestic began the full board meeting with an update on changing student 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.

The board agreed suspensions should no longer be an option for students who skip school or have excessive tardiness.

They also plan to change long-term suspensions for level two offenses to be a maximum of five days instead of up to the 10 day maximum currently in effect.

The board is also changing the appeal process by creating a hearing panel to review each case and originally planned to have it consist of three retired educators.

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.

Board drops company that handles assessment software

The board was also 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.

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. Margiotta said he thinks they will be able to find a much cheaper option closer to $20,000.

122 Comments

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  • kota069 Jul 14, 2011

    I thought there was a "Mimimum Wage"...??

    If their pay is reduced won't it be illegal?

  • squawk08 Jul 14, 2011

    No one likes a pay cut, but TA's do not make that much money, the ones up in the central office (administrators) should of taken a paycut, but you will never see that happen, ever.

  • GotSome Jul 13, 2011

    I would make more on unemployment with my family accepting health insurance under the state for the unemployed. Another grateful WCPSS T.A.

  • peplquitwhinin Jul 13, 2011

    Taylor and WakeMom, I see we agree more than not. I know there have been no raises for a few years now, but a 1% cut across the board would cure the entire budget issue, but of course needs to include analysis of wasteful spending also.

    As far as great administrators go, well I do not think most LEA's appreciate them. Lea's are like most other government agencies and just want administrators that keep all the forms turned in on time and don't cause waves. To be truly great as an administrator, you have to cause waves because you have to stand up for your staff which will often upset many parents. I guess this is why the LEA's call them school administrators instead of leaders. But.... that has very little to do with the funding. But hey, it is government. Throw more money at it and it should be fine!

  • AWakeMom Jul 13, 2011

    Princess1 - Regular ed TA's have always been able to take annual, comp or sick leave upon request. It's only special ed TA's that can't take annual or comp. cause they have to get a sub. Furthermore - their employment is 9.25 - that means they work a quarter of the workdays - they can take their annual or comp on those days. Look in the WCPSS Employee Handbook under Leaves and Absences (Restrictions on use by instruction personnel and bus drivers.) page 75 in my outdated handbook.

    Unfair I know - but there it is.

  • yeLp Jul 13, 2011

    I am grateful to be employed with the WCPSS.
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    --------------------

    "I am thankful for English too! I see you understood what I was saying Wake Mom!"

    -Slowly shaking my head-

    Complaining gets you NOWHERE

  • taylor3297 Jul 13, 2011

    peplquitwhinin- I was just stating why some counties offer a higher supplement and that was it. I said nothing about shortage of teachers, but yes in certain subjects there are shortages. Also,I didn't say the teachers were better due to the supplement, I just said it is a way of attracting better teachers.

    I taught middle school mathematics for over 20 years in two different states. Both states (GA and NC) had different supplements offered by each county.

    As to having great administrators, I have to agree with you. It is a shame that most of the great administrators are so busy dealing with parents who don't really want to parent or trying to implement the "newest" methodology that central office has demanded, they don't have the time to support their teachers.

  • yeLp Jul 13, 2011

    I am grateful that I still have a job! Humble TA

  • Princess1 Jul 13, 2011

    I wonder if they will be taking their earned annual leave time during regular school days. If there are no teacher workdays for them to use their time when will they use it?

  • issymayake Jul 13, 2011

    mep,

    So what would be the major difference between the 3/4 of a cent tax that our G.A. let expire and raising sales tax?

    Babbleon, you were one of the main ones saying keep the tax until unemployment went down. They don't hear or understand you though.

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