Kannapolis cuts budget, jobs

KANNAPOLIS — The Kannapolis City Board of Education has approved a budget that cuts school supply money and 20 jobs.

The school board unanimously passed its final 2013-14 budget resolution at a Sept. 9 meeting. The $45.6 million plan spends about $600,000 less than last year’s budget. It includes $8.6 million in local current expense funds and $27 million in state public school funds.

“Each year, it gets more difficult,” said Board Chairman Todd Adams. “Fortunately... we were able to absorb some of the job cuts through attrition.”

Only one person — a health and wellness coordinator — lost a job because of the reductions, said spokeswoman Ellen Boyd.

The budget for this school year eliminates:

• Seven regular classroom teacher positions

• Five early childhood teaching positions

• One English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching position

• Two literacy coach positions

• One math coach position

• One Spanish teacher position

• Two teacher assistant positions

• One health and wellness coordinator position

Boyd said these positions were eliminated due to cuts in state funding.

In addition, the district cut $244,815 — or 72 percent — from its supply budget, Boyd said. That’s one area that state legislators chose to target for cuts this year, rather than requiring school systems to make their own “flexible” reductions.

“We did plan for the worst case scenario, and this was the worst case scenario,” Boyd said. “It will be difficult for us to absorb further cuts. We’ve gone as far as we can go.”

Adams said the district also is losing federal funds.

“Of course, all of the stimulus money is gone now, and then we’re toward the end of Race to the Top,” he said.

Kannapolis City Schools also closed its Alternative Learning Center to save $125,000, Boyd said. The alternative program is now operating inside of A.L. Brown High School instead of having its own separate site (in a building that houses other school offices and programs).

Kevin Taylor, assistant principal at A.L. Brown, said the program was always a part of the high school, so moving it into the same building shouldn’t change much.

“Most of the programs we offered before are still going to be offered now,” Taylor said. “It may look different, but it’s still the same program.”

He said the program is for students who struggle in traditional high schools and could benefit from changes like smaller class sizes or online classes.

This may be the latest in a string of hard budget years, but “we’re not wringing our hands over it,” Adams said. The cuts are not as large as they were a few years ago, he said, and he praised Kannapolis central office staff for their knowledge and foresight.

“We’re going to educate our children and give our children the best education they can get with the resources that we have,” he said. “It’s tough that we’re not able to give teachers a raise. We understand that it’s tough economic times, but they’ve gone a long time without a raise.”

Adams said the teachers are there because they have a passion for what they do, but they have been given new standards to meet, new tests to administer and fewer resources in the classroom.

“We think we have great teachers and staff, and we want to keep them as happy as we can,” he said. “If they can make a difference in a child’s life, we want to keep them here.”

Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.

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