One of the biggest bombshells in Superintendent Heath Morrison's 2013-14 budget was an item beyond his control: Gov. Pat McCrory's proposed budget would eliminate about 400 teacher assistant jobs in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
Morrison and CMS board members say they're working to convince state legislators that cutting second- and third-grade classroom assistants would be a bad idea, one that could undermine the state's push to make sure students are reading on grade level by third grade.
|Pope and McCrory|
Assistants have repeatedly been the target of recession-driven budget cuts -- something of an irony, given how little they make. CMS leaders say they need to help lawmakers understand how much professional power they're getting for those salaries. "They bring great value," Morrison said at a news conference Wednesday.
But McCrory's press secretary, Crystal Feldman, said the cut is part of a tradeoff that will benefit students: "The governor’s proposed budget hires 1,800 more full-time teachers. The McCrory administration prioritizes resources on hiring more full-time certified teachers throughout North Carolina over the next two years rather than classroom assistants to help our students succeed in the classroom."
Wake County Schools would lose about the same number of assistants, and leaders there are also mounting a campaign to fight the cut, the News & Observer reports.
Like CMS, Wake is also exploring a 2013 bond campaign, but they're talking much bigger numbers. On Wednesday, administrators presented five scenarios ranging from $609 million to $2.3 billion, according to the N&O. They acknowledged the top number isn't realistic, but even their lowest package is well above what CMS can hope to get. Morrison has talked about a package that would cover 21 projects at about $386 million, but some Mecklenburg commissioners say that's more than the county can afford.