Proposed budget could lead to “worst layoff in state history”

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GREENVILLE N.C. (WNCT) – The Senate’s $21.47 billion budget is being met with a lot of resistance by educators, who said it would continue the devastating cuts to the education system.

Progress NC Action said the proposed budget would cut 8,500 teaching assistant positions (TA), leading to the worst layoff in state history.

“That’s dramatic. The public doesn’t want that,” said Gerrick Brenner.

Brenner said lawmakers are showing they are out of touch and don’t understand what cuts like these could mean. He also said Onslow County Sen. Harry Brown lied about the budget.

“Brown was asked are there any cuts in the budget, and he said no,” Brenner said.

The loss of teacher assistants would continue a trend seen by many school districts in the East. In Pitt County, the proposed budget would reduce the number of TA’s from 190 to 140.

“They’re not just making copies and putting up bulletin boards,” said Emily Klinedinst, a teacher of 16 years. “They are running reading groups, they are teaching lessons, they are working with groups of children.”

The proposed budget would add around 2,000 additional teachers, but Klinedinst said that wouldn’t offset the loss of the TAs.

The budget would also give newer teachers raises, while giving teachers with 25 years of experience or more no raise. Salary raises would be based on experience.

0-4 years: $35,000 – up 6%

5-9 years: $38,250 – up 4.8%

10-14 years: $41,250 – up 3.1%

15-19 years: $44,250 – up 1.7%

20-24 years: $47,000 – up 1.1%

25 or more years: $50,000 – no increase

Klinedinst said she doesn’t believe raises should be based on experience.

“There shouldn’t be an emphasis placed on a number of years of experience or one end or the other,” she said. “It needs to be across the board, because it takes all of us.”

She said while many teachers are leaving the state for higher paying jobs, she plans to stay and help move the education system forward.

“I have a little boy who’s getting ready to turn 4,” she said. “He’s going to be entering the school system, and somebody has to stay and help make it better.”

Lenoir and Beaufort County Schools said it was still too early to know how many, if any, TA’s they would lose. Onslow County Schools said they don’t plan on losing any TA’s under the proposed budget.

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