Johnston teachers facing more with less

The head of Johnston County's public school system says deeper budget cuts will likely mean more job layoffs.

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SMITHFIELD, N.C. — Traditional calendar schools start back Thursday, and this will be a leaner year in many classrooms because of budget cuts.

In Johnston County, for example, the school district had to cut more than 120 positions, including 74 teaching assistant jobs, to prepare for reduced state funding.

The cuts, school system officials say, are deep, but teachers like Misty Eason, say they are getting creative rather than frustrated.

Eason, who teaches first grade at Four Oaks Elementary School, says she is nervous about this year because of the cutbacks.

The school lost two teachers and five teaching assistants.

Last year, every first-grade teacher had a teaching assistant. This year, they are sharing so that each teacher gets at least one assistant half of the day.

"I think that's the biggest challenge we are having right now, figuring out our schedule where all our students will get what they need," Eason said.

Principal David Pearce said he knows it will take a toll on his staff.

"It is very tough on them," he says. "They already have a lot on their plate."

There's also less money to spend on school supplies – and the student population is growing.

"We are trying to put every bit of our money into the classroom, into students," Pearce says.

That means buying only essential supplies.

Teachers are also working together to ensure students still get small group lessons.

"It's going to be a big impact," Eason says.

It won't be easy, but Eason says the teachers and students will succeed.

"We are going to do it. We are going to figure it out, because the students are first," she says. "That's why we're here."


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