State News

NC school superintendents tell tales of budgetary woes

Posted April 3, 2012

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— Local public school superintendents from around North Carolina spent almost five hours Tuesday discussing how they have dealt with reduced education funding in recent years.

The State Board of Education held a special meeting to hear from superintendents about how they coped with this year's budget cuts and further cuts planned for next year. The state board holds its regular meeting in its downtown Raleigh headquarters Wednesday and Thursday.

The state budget crafted by the Republican-majority in the General Assembly increased state funding for teaching jobs but made cuts to education funding elsewhere. The state Department of Public Instruction says that nearly 2,000 classroom jobs, some of which were unfilled, were eliminated across the state this year.

Next year, school systems face a $332.6 million budget cut as funding from federal and state sources comes to an end.

"When our General Assembly members try to tell you that they've added jobs, they really haven't," Caldwell County Schools Superintendent Steve Stone said, noting his district has one adult for every 8.4 students this year, up from one for every 7.7 students in 2009.

One after one, Stone and other superintendents related tales of laying off teachers or other staff members, reworking school hours and bus schedules for more efficiency and cutting programs to save money.

Madison County Schools Superintendent Ronald Wilcox said stress is high and morale is low.

"People are wondering if they're going to have a job," Wilcox said.

Scott Penland, superintendent of Clay County Schools, told his colleagues how his pride at the Republican takeover of the General Assembly in 2010 has quickly turned to disgust as lawmakers refused to spare schools from the budget ax.

"There is a limit to how deep we can cut and still sustain a viable education program," Penland said. "Making education the top priority should be the one thing that all political parties should agree on."

Warren County Schools Supreintendent Ray Spain State Board of Education, superintendents discuss funding cuts

Landon Manning, a senior at Columbia High School in Tyrrell County, said he fears for the future of his rural hometown because of continued budget cuts.

"Education is the key of future success for our citizens as well as our region," Manning said. "Employers cannot relocate to areas that have no educated citizenry, and educated citizens cannot stay in areas with low job opportunities."

Gov. Beverly Perdue has been pushing for a 0.75-cent increase to the state sales tax rate to help restore some of the money cut last year as well the expected cuts for 2012-13. She told the superintendents that North Carolina's future depends on reversing the slide in education funding.

"This (is) the most important economic development issue of this century in North Carolina," Perdue said. "Any damage we do to education damages our ability – not just as a state, but as a country – to compete."

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison commended the superintendents for doing the best they could amid years of tight budgets, and he criticized political candidates who say public education in North Carolina needs more reform and less money.

"The only part of our (educational) system that is failing, the only part of our system that is broken is that which has to do with funding and our commitment at the state level to doing what's right for kids," Harrison said. "You guys aren't broken by any stretch of the imagination. You're doing incredible work each and every day with limited resources, and hopefully, we can turn this ship around."


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  • whatusay Apr 4, 2012

    Too many administrators...but federal gov't creates those jobs. Thanks Jimmy Carter.

  • wross Apr 4, 2012

    There is no response from Storchheim....he's been backed into a corner. Can't back a statement when there is nothing to back it up with...again ignorance is bliss...lots of happy people here in NC.

  • BIlzac Apr 4, 2012

    Union County schools announces today that they will eliminate 55 teaching positions and 350 teaching assistant positions in anticipation of a nearly $10 million dollar budget shortfall.

  • Plenty Coups Apr 4, 2012

    Still waiting on evidence from Storchheim.

  • Plenty Coups Apr 4, 2012

    storcheim-"Oh, and would you tell us another ten times or so where we rank in spending? While you're at it, tell us where we rank in results. Or are personal-attack one-liners all you have?"

    I'm sorry you are not interested in actual evidence and statistics. I am happy to provide my sources and continue to do so. You provide none. You resort to talking points.

  • Plenty Coups Apr 4, 2012

    Does your job pay 30 thousand less than similar jobs requiring the same experiece and education levels?" Plenty

    storcheim-"-"What specific jobs are you talking about?"

    Glad to help you out. As teaching in NC requires a 4 year degree, you should compare their pay to other jobs requiring a 4 year degree, such as accountants, computer programmers, and advertising managers.

    According to BLS data, an avg. accountant makes:

    61 K per year.

    According to BlS statistics,
    Computer programmers pay is around: 71 K per year.

    Advertising managers: Median pay is 108 K per year.

    NC teacher pay: (page 2) 32 years to hit 50K!!!

  • wross Apr 4, 2012

    This is a case of ignorant people not knowing the facts of the education budget. First, they're too lazy to research the facts and proceed to make inane statements. Having moved to NC to teach and now, comparing the educational system with other states, North Carolians lack the value of an education. Thus you have ignorance breeding ignorance. Educators have not had a raise in five years, student population has risen and certainly no extra funds have been given to carry the budgetary constraints. Remember a school is like running a home....costs for cleaning supplies, books, paper, etc have risen. NC just began refocusing to better education just a few short years ago. Prior to that it was "my folks done made a livin' without no education and I can too" mentality. Now I see this trend going into a downward spiral. In short...the population of NC becomes more stupid and maintains it's ignorance. Now that's what you call progress.

  • schooldoctor Apr 4, 2012

    Rockman 55, you are either smoking something or have not worked in education, it is certainly not as you have described in our county. We are at the top of the unemployment, teen preg., crime, TSD's, and at the lowest end of the funding. Again the kids are the victums, but those with the least education will be the one's to wipe your rear end and place IV's in your arms when you reach those Golden Years. Let us know how that works for you.

  • storchheim Apr 4, 2012

    "Does your job pay 30 thousand less than similar jobs requiring the same experiece and education levels?" Plenty

    What specific jobs are you talking about?

    Oh, and would you tell us another ten times or so where we rank in spending? While you're at it, tell us where we rank in results. Or are personal-attack one-liners all you have?

  • MDL33 Apr 4, 2012

    Want to improve education? Make the students care, that simple.