GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. – About 50 people may lose their jobs at Guilford County Schools and the end of the school year.
The county's largest employers is making budget cuts to meet class size rules set by the state.
District leaders say it all comes down to the budget. Last year, North Carolina legislators passed an unfunded mandate reducing class sizes in kindergarten through the third grade.
That means districts have to make changes to move money around, but they don't get any extra money from the state to make that happen.
Smaller class sizes means more individual attention for students, but it also means hiring more teachers.
Guilford County Schools had to find money for hiring, so they're cutting 51 out of the 500 teacher assistant positions across the district. District leaders say TAs in "exceptional children classrooms" won't be affected.
The district is also increasing class sizes in sixth through twelfth grades, closing High School Ahead, and reorganizing its central office.
More cuts could be ahead if HB13 doesn't pass the legislature. HB13 adjusts that class size reduction mandate and would allow some wiggle-room for maximum class sizes.
School Board Chairman Alan Duncan says the district simply doesn't know how it will balance the budget if HB13 doesn't pass.
"Is school going to open in the fall? Absolutely. Are employees going to go out and do their usual great job? Absolutely," he said. "But there's going to be real ramifications. It's not going to be good for children. There's going to be unfortunate consequences, so we're very worried about it, and we hope that the legislature, who I know is hearing from a lot of people, will step forward and do the right thing."
Duncan says each district will likely handle those additional cuts differently to meet class-size reduction standards. He says cutting elective is a real possibility and could mean cutting back on art, music or P.E.
HB13 passed its third reading in the house in December. It's expected to move to the senate this session.
GCS leaders say they'll try to keep displaced TAs employed in the district in positions left open by retirement or resignation.