Cary, N.C. — Gov. Pat McCrory's proposed state budget would be a "landscape changer" for the Wake County Public School System, resulting in the loss of $12 million in funding to pay about 400 teaching assistants, Chief Business Officer David Neter told school board members Tuesday afternoon.
The $20.6 billion state spending plan for 2013-14 includes funds to hire 1,800 public school teachers statewide over the next two years, but cuts money for teaching assistants in second and third grades.
The budget proposal would increase the ratio of teaching assistants to kindergarten and first grades, however.
Losing 400 teaching assistants at two grade levels "would impact Wake County in a very significant way," said school board Chairman Keith Sutton.
School board member Tom Benton called it a "major step backward."
"Has anyone seen any data that suggests fewer adults in the classroom will improve instruction?" Benton asked. "That is what we are being told about this budget."
Interim Superintendent Stephen Gainey said that he plans to fight the cuts by talking to the Wake County delegation of the General Assembly.
In addition to adding teacher jobs, some board members said there are positives in the budget proposal, including extra money for classroom supplies.
"I think there were a lot of things that came out of the governor's budget that increases the funding in technology and textbooks and other areas," said board member John Tedesco.
Tedesco agreed that keeping teaching assistants in the classroom is critical for young students, but said he thinks there is still time for school leaders to make that case to lawmakers.
"Hopefully, there will be some adjustments made," he said.