Rockingham County schools scaling back teacher assistant hours

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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. -- Well past the first day of school and about one month away from Thanksgiving break, summer school funding issues are still plaguing Rockingham County Schools.

On Monday Oct. 20 the district will begin cutting hours for teacher assistants across the county.

The move is being done in response to budget cuts passed this summer for this school year and next. In a video made for teacher assistants, Rockingham County Schools Superintendent Rodney Shotwell said the district counted on more than $1.5 million for teacher assistants.

“As the superintendent, I felt like I was the one who needed to bring this message to you and make you aware of what's happening,” said Shotwell.

More than 50 teacher assistants will see their hours in the classroom reduced to six per day. That leaves them 10 hours short of a 40 hour work week. Shotwell said this option was discussed by school board members in September and preferred over job cuts that would force many current employees to lose their benefits.

Several people are worried about the impact the decision will have on teachers and students.

“They help with students and help with teachers there are so many students per one teacher and that’s not always enough,” said Amanda Howard, who’s considering which school system is the best fit for her kindergartener next year. “They need the help so the children get the best education that they deserve and they need.”

Shotwell agrees with the need for teacher assistants in the classroom, comparing the relationship between teachers and their assistants to doctors and nurses working together. Still, Shotwell said this is the best case scenario given a direct cut from the state.

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