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Rowan-Salisbury school officials get creative to save teaching jobs

By Maggie Blackwell
mblackwell@salisburypost.com
The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education heard plans Monday night to shuffle positions, support positions with alternate funding and redirect programs in order to save as many teaching jobs as possible in the face of potentially severe state funding cuts.
School system Superintendent Dr. Judy Grissom and Tara Trexler, the system’s chief financial officer, presented plans they developed with other staff members in an effort to preserve classroom teaching positions in Rowan as the General Assembly considers eliminating 6,000 teaching jobs statewide.
School Board President Dr. Jim Emerson praised the administrators for their efforts.
“I visited our superintendent on Thursday and they were diligently working to preserve every job they could,” he said. “I feel confident they have done everything they could, and I’d like to thank them.”
All plans prepared by the staff at this point are hypothetical, according to Trexler, as the state budget has not yet been finalized. She said it may be early August before the school system knows what kind of budget cuts it faces.
In response to state plans to cut 62 teachers, Grissom and Trexler devised plans to save all but 8. The plans include:
– Using federal stimulus money, Title 1 money where allowed and exceptional children money where allowed to preserve nine teaching jobs;
– Cutting Spanish from middle schools, except at Erwin, where enrollment in the classes is high. This saves six classroom teaching positions;
– Cutting middle- and high-school curriculum coaches, saving 10 teaching jobs;
– Cutting elementary curriculum coaches, except where Title I will continue to fund them, preserving 4 teaching positions;
– Cutting some elementary art, music, and physical education positions due to reduced enrollment, saving three teachers;
– Moving life skills teachers from middle schools to high schools;
– Using supply money from Rowan County commissioners to fund nine teaching positions, if allowed.
In many cases, teachers whose programs are cut can fill positions left vacant by teachers who retire or leave the system, the administrators said.
Trexler also identified plans to cut $113,000 in spending at the system’s central office and another $337,000 by eliminating high school attendance secretaries, cutting overtime and eliminating a seasonal insurance position at the central office.
With state plans to cut 75 teacher assistants from the Rowan-Salisbury budget, Grissom and Trexler presented plans to save all but 18 positions by justifying 23 positions based on enrollment; cutting elementary media assistants, saving 20 classroom assistants; and cutting middle school media assistants, saving 14 classroom assistants.
The administrators said they could also save $675,000 by changing the timeline for adopting new textbooks; $250,000 by eliminating some high school assistant principal positions; $72,000 by reducing stipends for teaching mentors; and thousands more in support positions and supplies.
Nearly $1 million would be cut from the budget by eliminating middle school resource officer positions and the second resource officer at Henderson Independent; eliminating night school; reducing contracts for visiting foreign instructors; and discontinuing remediation allocations for schools.
In other business, the school board voted to change school property and liability insurance to Surry Insurance premium, using Montgomery and Key Risk. They also congratulated the Salisbury High boys’ track team and coaches, who took the state title.

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