Durham teachers rally against budget cuts

Posted May 21, 2010 4:31 p.m. EDT
Updated May 21, 2010 9:30 p.m. EDT

— A group of Durham teachers held a rally on Friday in protest of planned cuts to the Durham Public Schools budget.

Next year’s budget for Durham schools includes $13 million in teacher job losses, which amounts to about 237 teaching positions.

Educators say they already face class sizes as high as 30 students and are dealing with a shortage of supplies.

“We need the funding to save education in Durham,” art teacher Marlu Flowers said.

The Durham Association of Educators organized Friday afternoon's rally. The group started at the Durham Schools administration building and marched to the offices of Durham County Board of Commissioners, at 200 E. Main St.

Jenn Mason-Mancuso, a first grade teacher who was laid off last year, was among hundreds that attended the rally.

She said she fears more teachers will be let go unless county commissioners can find the money to save them.

“There is money and this is an investment,” Manson-Mancuso said.

Some school board members attended the rally in support the cause. In tight budget times, they said, ultimately, some teachers will be laid off.

“I think they want to work with us and give us what they can give us. They have to weigh the needs of the county across the board,” board member Heidi Carter said.

Commissioner Becky Heron said demonstrators should have taken their march to Raleigh, not Durham.

“We are not cutting their budget. It is the state that has cut the schools,” she said.

Heron said it will not be easy to make up for the millions in cuts handed down by the state, but she said commissioners will make an effort in their budget.

“We are going to give them a small increase in our funding over what they had last year,” she said.