Local educators react to state budget

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Even though we’re well into the school year, local school systems are just now getting a look at what the state budget could look like for the next two years.

The Senate and House came out with the budget compromise Monday night.

Angela Waiters Jackson, president of the Guilford County Association of Educators, says she’s glad to see things like more funding for textbooks and restored funding for drivers ed.

“We're really happy the teacher assistants are being funded at the same level they were previously. Unfortunately with the 7,000 being cut in the past, there are still not enough TA's in the classroom,” said Jackson. “The teachers assistants were kept, but they're not receiving raises. None of our certified employees have received raises in quite some time."

That’s not the only issue.

State lawmakers also added restrictions to TA funding, so counties cannot use the money for anything else.

As a result, officials with Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools have to rethink their budget.

“I believe last year, out of the $13.3 million we received for teaching assistants, we used $3.2 million for primary reading teachers. We'll have to look at how we're going to address that,” said Theo Helm, a spokesperson for WS/FCS.

School system officials in both Forsyth and Guilford counties are still looking into how other budget items will impact local schools.

However, Jackson says one thing is clear. She says this budget compromise is only a small step in the right direction.

“Our teacher salaries are still well below the national average. We still rank 46 in the nation. We have teachers working two and three jobs, because they can't live on the salary we have,” said Jackson. “Right now the budget says, ‘no we don't care enough to pay you a salary to keep you in front of the students to give them a quality education.’ So we have a long way to go.”

Both the House and Senate have to vote twice in favor of the proposal. It would then go to Gov. Pat McCrory.

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