Superintendent says teachers’ job loss ‘inevitable’ under NC Senate budget

Superintendent Beverly Emory said job losses would be 'inevitable' if the budget proposed in the N.C. Senate is adopted. (Andrew Dye/Journal)

Superintendent Beverly Emory said job losses would be 'inevitable' if the budget proposed in the N.C. Senate is adopted. (Andrew Dye/Journal)

FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — The budget approved Friday by the N.C. Senate would cost Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools more than $10 million, including the loss of more than 250 early grade teacher assistants and 28 classroom teachers, according to preliminary estimates from the district’s finance department.

Superintendent Beverly Emory said that if the Senate budget is adopted, job loss would be “inevitable,” according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

The district budget woes are two-fold. Its local budget is being cut by more than $600,000 while the proposed Senate budget would cut financing for teacher assistants, classrooms teachers, administration and transportation to pay for teacher raises.

The Senate’s budget proposal would give teachers an average pay raise of 11 percent — in exchange for longevity pay and job protections— which the district would have to match for employees not paid with state funds.

When the district made a request for a funding increase of $3.5 million to the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners earlier this month, $1.6 million was to cover an anticipated 3 percent pay raise for teachers.

Bigger raises mean more local dollars the district has to find for the match. Since the district will receive less from the county than it did last year, the match will have to come from the fund balance or cuts. Emory called the county budget disappointing, but “not terribly surprising.”

The county follows a funding formula based on sales tax revenues, property taxes and school district enrollment. County Manager Dudley Watts said the formula means the school system has to weather the same financial storm as the county.

“The spirit behind (the formula) was … the schools would either benefit or have to deal with … this calculated percentage of the county budget,” Watts said. “Unfortunately, it’s not been a good revenue picture for the county at all.”

While the local budget cuts alone would not cause job loss in the schools, those cuts coupled with a proposal like that in the Senate budget would.

Emory said the district didn’t have exact figures, but an 11 percent pay raise would likely be more than the district could handle through its fund balance. A fund balance is the difference between the assets and liabilities of a fund.

“I’m really fearful to what degree we can rely on fund balance, particularly for raises. Those are a recurring, ongoing expense that isn’t going away,” Emory said. “Continuing to use our fund balance is a short-term solution.”

The district dipped into its fund balance this year to save teacher assistant jobs after last minute state cuts in 2013 eliminated about 100 positions from the district. The idea was to make as many job cuts as possible through attrition and give the rest a year’s notice that their job may not be there the next year.

The Senate budget proposal would cut an additional 268 teacher assistants in Forsyth County.

“It’s devastating,” Emory said. “To impact the kind of instruction that we need in those K-3 classrooms, we need more adults.”

The Senate budget would also cut 28 teaching positions from the district and $1.1 million from transportation needs.

Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget plan called for fewer cuts and more modest teacher raises. If that plan were adopted, it may not result in job loss, Emory said.

The state House hasn’t released its budget.

9 comments

    • The Dork

      Here’s a thought..how about we eliminate or significantly reduce these inflated salaries and compensation benefits that these superintendents receive.

  • Mark Stabler

    How many positions will be eliminated at the Administrative Office before the first teaching position is eliminated? . How many assistant principals and administrative personnel at each school will be eliminated before the first teacher? How many coaching positions, including coaches that do not teach, will be eliminated before the first teacher? Teachers have been screaming for a pay raise and now a part of the legislature is offering a whopper. I doubt they will end up with that amount but I feel they will get a lot more than other State employees. Ride by the Administrative office and see how many cars are parked in that parking lot. Might open your eyes.

    • Holden Caulfield

      @Abby Wright… Nice petition, but completeley inappropriate to post it regarding any topic related to public budget woes. Your k12.com push would send more taxpayers dollars out of state, and it would exascerbate our budget problems. Don’t get me wrong; this is America and parents are free to choose schooling beyond that which is offered by your state and nation; you just can’t do it with my money. Also, I encourage you to investigate the statistics behind k12 online education, if you can find any… they don’t account to the public, which is another reason they shouldn’t get taxpayer dollars. Anyway, the stats aren’t good… but online education businesses are better than the public schools at one thing, and that is lobbying for public money in NC. You are right, it is time for a change, but not how you mean.

  • Brenda Halsey

    When your income decreases, you look at what you can cut back on. That’s what the school systems need to do instead of immediately deciding the answer is to cut teachers and assistants. Instead they need to look at cutting the higher paid administrative people and seriously look at every line item of expense and cut back there instead of in the classroom. The problem is it’s the admin people making the decisions and they never look at themselves.

  • Holden Caulfield

    The real problem is that Senate Pro-Tem Phil Berger is more interested in diverting public money to private school investors while the public schools suffer. There is nothing wrong with a parent wanting his or her child to attend a private or charter school. There is plenty wring with a General Assembly that forks over unprecedented amounts of public tax dollars to private school investors. Meanwhile, after all of the pay-outs and tax breaks for the wealthy are factored in, North Carolina’s students are sitting in overcrowded, underfunded classrooms taught by some of the most poorly compensated teachers in America. The actions of the General Assembly are unethical and disingenuous to what a group of public servants should be. This is what they are doing with their supermajority control; it’s the first time that Republicans have operated without resistance in NC since the Reconstruction era, and they are showing their true colors. I urge all NC residents to go online and get the list of Senators and Representatives who voted for the so-called “Excellent Schools” budget last year and vote these greedy un-Americans out!

  • Just a thought...

    I have noting to back this up, but I can’t help but think that the Senate is making decisions on a system that they have no investment in. Most are too old to have kids in school, and if they do, I would imagine they are in private schools that are so well funded. I have to think that if these decisions were affecting their own children, there may be a different outcome. Elected officials are supposed to fight for the needs/wants/desires of the public they represent, not their own interests.

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