Fayetteville teachers prepared to go it alone in classroom

Posted August 26, 2013 5:49 p.m. EDT
Updated August 26, 2013 6:22 p.m. EDT

— State budget cuts have eliminated more than 3,800 teaching assistant positions in second- and third-grade classrooms across North Carolina, and elementary school teachers said Monday that they're ready to brave a new world without assistants.

Cumberland County Schools lost about 130 of people whom Superintendent Frank Till calls "paraprofessionals."

"I tell people, if you don't think you need a paraprofessional in the classroom, then invite 22 kindergartners over to your house," Till said.

Lindsay Warren, a third-grade teacher at VanStory Elementary School in Fayetteville, said she will miss having an assistant in her classroom several times each week.

"She could work one on one with kids because, the huge thing is, in a classroom with 18 kids, not everybody is on the same level," Warren said.

Second-grade teacher Erica Flores called her former assistant wonderful.

"(It was) just an extra set of hands in here to help the kids achieve their goals," Flores said.

The state cuts didn't affect assistants in kindergarten and first grade.

Till also noted that, because of attrition, the district was able to rehire many teaching assistants who had been laid off and placed them in positions at different schools.

"The research says, if we lose a child by third grade, we've probably lost them forever," he said.

Warren said budget cuts and the strain of working without an assistant won't affect her love of her job.

"We're going to make it work because we love these kids," she said. "If I have to put in more hours or if I have to stay here a little later to get it done, that's what I'm going to do, because it's about them."