Guilford Co. Schools bracing for budget cuts

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — Guilford County Schools are bracing for budget cuts and higher class sizes.

Potential reductions include an even bigger impact on some low-income schools.

Under the current system, some schools have equity designations, which means schools most impacted by poverty get more teachers.

For several years, Equity 2 schools were those with 65 percent or more students participating in free and reduced lunch.

Equity 3 schools were those with at least 75 percent of students on free and reduced lunch.

“These schools in the past have received additional teaching positions to lower class size in Equity 2, in grades K through two. And in Equity 3, grades K through three,” explained Angie Henry, chief financial officer for Guilford County Schools.

But next year, the Equity 2 designation will likely be eliminated altogether. Equity 3 designations will only be given to schools with free and reduced meal participation of 85 percent or more.

That means schools currently getting additional teacher positions will lose them.

“Some of our schools with our most vulnerable children are going to be impacted by this cut of about 39 teaching positions,” Henry told FOX8 Friday.

There will also be a county-wide class increase of 0.3 students per class. Henry said that meant schools would lose at least one teaching position, likely in an AP, IB or tutoring program.

So elementary schools losing equity designations will be hit twice with teacher position reductions.

“It’s not just class size, but class size in schools where we need additional resources so desperately. That’s what makes this so difficult,” added Henry. “We just can’t afford to have these kind of cuts at these schools but at this point we just don’t have any choice.”

In early April, Superintendent Mo Green asked Commissioners for nearly $30 million in additional funding for operations and capital improvements for 2014-2015.

The total request from the Commissioners is $197.1 million. County funding accounts for 33.1 percent of funding for the school system.

The state provides 60 percent and the federal government accounts for nearly 7 percent.

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