Education

Layoffs sweeping through school districts

Posted June 16, 2011 7:13 p.m. EDT
Updated June 16, 2011 7:26 p.m. EDT

— With the school year over and the state budget passed, many teachers across the region have learned in recent days that they no longer have a job.

The $19.7 billion budget, which the Republican-led legislature passed Wednesday over Gov. Beverly Perdue's veto, includes discretionary cuts for school districts statewide. School administrators say the size of the needed cuts entail layoffs, including thousands of teachers and teaching assistants.

Critics of the budget predict as many as 13,000 jobs could be lost. Harnett County Schools, for example, has cut 88 jobs, most of them teaching assistants.

"It's been really tough," Interim Superintendent Tom Frye said. "(Teaching assistants) are a key component of our instructional program."

Jennifer Harvell, an assistant at North Harnett Primary School, was called into her principal's office Monday and learned that she was among the layoffs.

"She was very emotional about it," Harvell said.

Both Frye and Harvell said they wished that lawmakers had voted to keep a temporary one-cent sales tax in place for another year to avoid many of the school cuts.

"I'm sure a lot of people haven't even missed that one-cent sales tax," Harvell said.

 The 33-year-old mother of three said the district is helping her and others find new jobs. Losing her job doesn't mean she's lost her passion, and she said she also plans to continue taking classes to achieve her childhood dream.

"(I want) to be a teacher," she said.