Raleigh, N.C. — The troubled economy and planned budget cuts have made some Wake County teachers worried about job security.
Superintendent Del Burns has ordered principals to fill no more than 95 percent of their openings. That means as many as 1,500 teachers and school employees whose contracts expire at the end of June could lose their jobs.
"I came into the school year about midway," Barwell Elementary School teacher Robin Fischl said.
Fischl moved to Wake County from Virginia and was hired to teach at Barwell Elementary School, 3925 Barwell Road in Raleigh. However, because she became employed after Dec. 1, her contract will expire at the end of the school year.
"In the past, when we've had terminating contracts come on board, we've always been able to say, 'If everything's fine, I'm going to hire you back,'" said Annice Williams, Barwell Elementary School principal.
However, that is not the case this year due to budget deficits at the state and county level. The school district could have a shortfall of about $40 million in the 2009-10 school year, Burns said.
Of the approximately 100 people working at Barwell Elementary, 15 have terminating contracts, Williams said.
"There is the possibility that it (contract) will not renew and I will not have a job here," Fischl said.
Wake County school board members are considering various money-saving measures, including increasing class sizes to reduce the number of teachers needed, eliminating some high school electives and ordering employees to do away with personal heaters, fans and coffee makers to cut electricity costs.
The school district also plans to keep in place a hiring freeze on administrative positions, and Burns said $11 million in state and local cuts made in December also would become permanent.
"That's a very significant impact. We're concerned about the teachers, but we're just as concerned about the possibility of not having support staff members available," Williams said.
Fischl said if her contract is not renewed, she hopes to find another job where she can make an impact on the lives of children.
“My job is to work with these students that are in my class this year and to help them progress, so they are ready for the next grade level," she said.
Burns' budget proposal for the 2009-10 school year includes no increase in county funds from the $316 million provided this school year.
District administrators expect 2,300 new students to enroll in area schools next fall, meaning per-student spending would drop from $2,218 to $2,182.
The school board plans to have several more budget workshops in the coming weeks before Burns submits his budget request to county commissioners in May.