Stone: Budget a 'slap in the face'

Caldwell schools losing almost $2 million
Aug. 08, 2014 @ 06:04 AM

The Caldwell County Schools will scramble to find almost $1 million to spare the jobs of 22 teacher assistants after that funding was cut in the state budget that Gov. Pat McCrory signed on Thursday.

Republican legislators say current teacher assistant positions were preserved, but funding for assistants fell by $85 million compared to last year.

Superintendent Steve Stone said called the cuts “a slap in the face to teacher assistants" but said that the Caldwell County Board of Education will work to find a way to fill the gap.

“The board of education has always been about saving jobs. We’ve got some people who retired. We will not fill those positions,” Stone said, and some teacher assistants who signed interim contracts, or were hired after the first day of school, last year may not be retained. “We’ll probably ask the county commissioners for more money.”

Although legislators say the new budget provides pay raises averaging 7 percent for teachers, that includes merging longevity pay -- a bonus that has been paid to those working at least 10 years -- into teachers' regular paychecks. They will no longer get a lump payment at the end of the year.

Also, office personnel will see very little raise in their pay.

“I don’t think they (state officials) fulfilled many promises to teachers that they made, and it’s really just smoke and mirrors,” Stone said. “The spin that the governor and the Senate and the House are putting on it is insulting.”

Other cuts to education spending amount to about another $1 million in Caldwell, Stone said, including funds for transporation and textbooks. Starting in July 2015, the state will no longer pay for driver's education courses. Local school boards will have to pay for it and are authorized to charge a fee of up to $65 per student. For 50 years the classes have been free, Stone said.

“It’s not a very good state budget,” he said. “It’s hurting a lot of people. It’s not a good budget for public education.”