RALEIGH, N.C. — Public school teachers say Gov. Bev Perdue's latest plan to help balance this fiscal year's budget could prove difficult for them.
Under an executive order that the governor signed Tuesday, state employees' annual salary will be cut by a half-percent in May and June. Employees will then take 10 hours off sometime between June and the end of the year to compensate for the lost wages.
The pay cuts will save an estimated $65 million and help fill the gap left by an expected $3 billion-plus budget shortfall in the fiscal year ending June 30.
Vicky Crossom, an educator for 13 years, said the plan is disappointing and frustrating, because taking time off is difficult for teachers.
"It's not so easy for teachers to take a day off, because even though they're not (at school), their students still are," she said.
Crissom said that unless the state is willing to pay for substitute teachers, "we can't logically take that time when the children are in class."
The only option, she said, would be a teacher workday.
"And we need that time for planning and parent conferences and continuing education workshops," she said.
Elementary school Principal Mary Page said teachers already don't have enough time to complete their work.
"It won't be easy, and some people probably won't take their day," she said.
Rodney Ellis, vice president of the North Carolina Association of Educators, which represents approximately 60,000 members, believes there must be a better option.
The governor's office said Thursday that it has received more than 600 calls and e-mails since Tuesday's announcement and that the Department of Public Instruction will work out a fair policy for teachers within the next 30 days.
"I hope they're going to find a way so teachers can take that time off, but I really don't see how they're going to be able to do it," Ellis said.