Friday, August 8, 2014

Gov. McCrory pushes back on reported teacher assistant cuts

CMS held a news conference the other day, and Superintendent Heath Morrison announced that the district would face the loss of 90 teacher assistant positions as part of the state budget. I didn't realize that it was going to be such a big point of contention.

The office of Gov. Pat McCrory is pushing back hard on assertions by CMS and some other districts that they'll lose TA positions. They're adamant that there will be no TAs lost at all.

Why do districts think they'll lose these positions? It's super complicated but it kind of boils down to this: Before, districts got an allotment of money to pay teacher assistants. Some districts used part of that money to hire more teachers. The new budget recognizes this, and moves about $85 million from the teacher assistant pool to the teacher pool. Districts, however, have the ability to use the new teacher money to hire teacher assistants. Because the salaries of teachers and teacher assistants don't convert perfectly, a funding gap can present itself.

After my story ran, state budget director Art Pope called to walk through the numbers at a state level and say that because CMS was already using some teacher assistant money to hire teachers, they shouldn't have lose anything.

"I can't say why they're coming up with any losses," he said.

Then later, my colleague Ely Portillo spoke with McCrory, who offered up this:

"We are not reducing the number of teacher's assistants," he said. "Any teacher assistant who was working in a classroom last year will be working again this year if the local superintendents and principals set it up that way based on money that we gave them."


That second part actually gives them a bit of wiggle room. CMS has about 150 vacant teacher assistant positions, so losing 90 wouldn't force them to lay off anybody.

I've been in touch with CMS to try to find a definitive answer but don't have one yet.

UPDATE: Morrison put out a statement at 5 p.m. Friday discussing this disconnect. Here's the key part of it:
Gov. McCrory and his budget director Art Pope made themselves available to a group of district superintendents last week to answer our questions. That constant communication has continued. As recently as this morning, we sought clarification from the governor’s office about teacher-assistant funding and how the state will pay for enrollment growth in the future. Through our conversations, we feel we’re making progress in regards to funding for teacher assistants.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great article, thanks for your reporting: getting us the inside scoop, and being fair about the issue!

Anonymous said...

Lot to be desired about that article. Many unanswered questions and poorly written.

Ghoul said...

But, but, but if Heath doesn't cut TAs, then how will he be able to pay all those PR people?

Anonymous said...

at 150,000 a pop ...

Anonymous said...

There is a hell of a lot more money being spent by CMeS that nobody is sure of.

150 Vacant TA positions tells a telling story within itself. Combine that with over 850 teachers leaving. Have you seen the vacant teaching positions that are open as of today Dunn ?

Lest see if you have ANY investigative reporting skills at all.

Andrew Dunn said...

Anon 5:57, CMS told me the other day that there are about 250 vacant teaching positions as of this week.

Wiley Coyote said...

This is a perfect example of Educrat Three Card Monte.

They get money for one thing, but use it for something else, then complain teacher assistants are being cut.

Buckets of money.

Anonymous said...

was it about a month ago where CMS spent over $400K on three admin positions. How many TA's positions would that account for?

Anonymous said...

DUNN

Your first mistake is calling CMS and listening to what the overpriced PR spin doctors tell you. Do a little dog gone research. Go on the CMS website and look at the pages of job openings.

In the immortal words of Reagan "Trust but verify" every word out of the ivory tower.

Anonymous said...

Sadly CMS is falling prey to the same trend that we have seen with virtually every large urban school system in the country. In the final analysis, spending more money on a school system such as CMS is a bad investment of the taxpayers money. To be fair, the biggest reason why CMS is failing is beyond their control. Remember, schools are merely a reflection of the communities in which the serve and there is nothing CMS can do about that.

Anonymous said...

TA's have been complaining for years about LEAs using TA funds to hire teachers - 2 TAs for 1 teacher position. We were even told by some legislators that a few LEAs were sending the money back (hard to believe!).

If school systems truly value TAs--and they should--they will stop the shell game with the funding and use it as intended by legislators. If they don't, soon TA positions will be cut and cut and cut until they are no more!

Anonymous said...

@ 9:09 You need to follow your own advice and look at the pages of job openings.

https://ats4.searchsoft.net/ats/job_board_frame?softsort=NAME&APPLICANT_TYPE_ID=00000001&COMPANY_ID=00014342

According to the CMS web site, there are four pages of Instructional positions (Teachers, Social Workers, Counselors, Psychologists, etc.) and they are numbered 1-349...so there are 349 positions listed today, Saturday, August 9, 2014.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to leave this state...

Anonymous said...

Actually there are 448 positions open or more. Some of those listings include more than one opening. When you click on the one that says CMS generically, you will find that it lists 100 positions.
Everyday it is increasing because teachers have had enough! The shell game the state played with raises and the sabotaging going on around the quarter cent sales tax have told teachers that elected officials are talking out both sides of their mouths. Vote them out!

Anonymous said...

@12:10 - Tsk, tsk. The very first listing is for "2014-2015 Teacher (all grades and subject areas)", 100 openings. So make that 449 vacant positions.

On a related note, Dr. Morrison was quoted earlier in the week as saying that the caliber of teachers still available in July and August is less than desirable. The same is true of nearly all the schools and/or administrative teams where teaching jobs remain open.

Anonymous said...

@3:37
850 - 449 = 401 Big difference.

Just as misleading as the comments made by the legislature.

Anonymous said...

Could someone find out if CMS will still pay the supplement to teachers as listed on the 2013-2014 schedule on their web page?

Anonymous said...

Most of these positions say (2014-2015) as if they are only for one year, and other don't. Wondering why?

Anonymous said...

DUNN

CMS tell you there are 250 open positions? A little investigative work shows that it is more around 400 openings for teachers. Only the " BEST AND BRIGHTEST" will come from the pool of canidates now !

Come on Man

Wiley Coyote said...

You can whine all you want about pay, disrespect, benefits, etc, but the landscape is changing everywhere. The grass most likely will not be greener on the other side.

I suggest you read this article. The contradictions from the federal government, politicians and educrats is astounding.

It's the same BS garbage out of their mouths about equity, achievement gap, disproportionate discipline for minorities, etc yet the story is about schools now being a "majority/minority" with more illegal and non-English speaking kids going into the public education system

White students no longer to be majority in school

...For the first time ever, U.S. public schools are projected this fall to have more minority students than non-Hispanic whites enrolled, a shift largely fueled by growth in the number of Hispanic children.....

http://news.yahoo.com/white-students-no-longer-majority-school-141152712.html

Anonymous said...

Can someone explain why we struggle to find money for schools when Charlotte's anchor industry is among the most profitable on planet Earth?

http://www.forbes.com/global2000/list/

Anonymous said...

Honestly? Four reasons:

1) Affluent parents put their kids in private schools from day one so they won't be tainted by the poors. Housing prices and the property tax rates here are quite low compared to nearly every other US metropolitan area, so there's not a huge pot of cash to begin with.

2) North Carolinians claim they want top-notch schools and public services, but at the same time, they don't want to pay for them.

Compare NC student performance and educational attainment to that of nearly any liberal blue state and it's not difficult to see that our legislature's #1 priority is the creation of a cheap, disposable workforce competing for minimum-wage jobs.

Considering the erosion of the tax base and the newly-created tax dodges for corporate yacht owners and their ilk, does anyone see that changing for the better anytime soon? There wasn't even enough money to fund teacher raises! They had to scramble for it by making cuts to other parts of the social safety net.

It's a transparent attempt to secure the mid-term and gubernatorial elections. Republican are deeply paranoid and insecure even after gerrymandering districts and creating voting restrictions which will no doubt be deemed unconstitutional - but probably not before November.

3) School districts are extremely top-heavy, lousy with administrators who earn 130-150k base pay as compliance managers and form creators, never stepping foot inside a classroom. New do-nothing jobs are created by the handful and everyone gets an assistant - in fact, their assistant gets an assistant and two secretaries.

Financial mismanagement, waste, fraud and abuse is rampant. The primary directive is to spend more than the year before - you'll never have to justify a penny...UNLESS you're a teacher begging for basic lab equipment, working technology, field trips or art supplies. Teachers have to write a grant request for that - basically holding up sign that reads: "Will engage students for corporate sponsorship!"

4) Religion, particularly evangelical Christian mega-church religion. Why bother to do anything to protect the environment, promote education (can't have critical thinking skills creeping in, you know), and afford our most vulnerable residents basic human dignity when NONE OF IT MATTERS? Say the magic words and *poof* you'll be raptured up to heaven aaaaanny minute now, yessiree, leaving the rest of us to deal with the mess you "left behind". People honestly believe this.

Anyway, keep writing those checks to Elevation Church and pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. In fact, I think I'll start my own church and dodge property taxes that way. It's all the rage, fleecing the sheep, I mean. Hey, you asked!

Anonymous said...

There could very well be fewer than the posted amount of teacher vacancies. A lot of times, a position is filled but the posting remains on the website until the newly hired candidate passes all HR checks and officially accepts a teaching contract. After that point, HR removes the posting. This process could take up to a week or longer depending on the candidate. In regards to the additional 100 positions, that is a generic posting where all teaching candidates can express interest in teaching for CMS in general before applying to specific schools.

Anonymous said...

Heath Morrison has not proved himself to be an innovator in terms of education. Nor has he proven to ve an efficiency expert. He has proven to be quite the grandstander. Why is it CMS seems to fall for the huckster?

Anonymous said...

12:44, You gave a better explanation than most editorials.

I wonder what you see for the future of North Carolina and its teachers.

Anonymous said...

The unknown truth is that principals hire canidates all the time, but soon find out they cannot pass the qualifications or requirements from the state.

Right now it is a mad struggle to find whatever "quacks" that can fill the position or even worse the unqualified long term sub. Oh wait, CMeS likes that even more because it save money that can be diverted to the Westside.

Anonymous said...

anon 12:44,
interesting post, you hit on many good points but one, white flight. This single trend has sealed the fate of CMS schools.

Anonymous said...

Not "white flight" 9:28, but "bright flight" of all colors. Parents who value education are not going to let their children be used as pawns in the CMS game. This started years ago when the board thought nothing of reassigning kids every two years or so (and then wondered why parents were angry and kids were disconnecting from school). Many fled (and are fleeing) the county, many went the private or home school route, and many moved to the far edges of the county where strong families were helping to maintain strong schools. Suburban schools both in and out of Mecklenburg County are far from lily white these days.