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Rowan-Salisbury schools face deep cuts under state budget proposal

By Maggie Blackwell
mblackwell@salisburypost.comNorth Rowan High School could lose as many as six teachers if cuts in the state’s education budget proposed in the N.C. General Assembly are enacted.
That’s the most teachers any school in the Rowan-Salisbury School System would lose, according to a list released by the school system. But other schools face losses in large numbers as well, such as China Grove Elementary, which could lose three teachers and eight teacher assistants.
Those numbers could become a reality under a budget proposal that would eliminate funding for more than 6,000 teachers statewide and all third-grade teaching assistants in the 2009-2010 school year, as well as thousands of other positions and many programs in education.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education approved a plan Thursday to slice more than $1.3 billion, or 16.1 percent, from the education budget next year to help fill a projected budget deficit of $4.2 billion. The plan would increase class sizes while decreasing personnel.
In the following year, class sizes would again be increased and 2,600 more teaching jobs would be eliminated.
The plan is slate to go the full appropriations committee Tuesday. Two Rowan County legislators, Rep. Lorene Coates and Rep. Fred Steen, are members of that committee.
If approved by the committee, the proposal would proceed to the full House, where the chamber is scheduled to debate the complete state budget Wednesday and Thursday before voting.
“These unprecedented cuts to public school funding are likely to roll back almost 20 years of progress our state has made in public education,” Katherine Joyce, assistant executive director for the N.C. Association of School Administrators, said in a press release.
“Every classroom in our state will feel the negative impact of these cuts, and, unfortunately, so will each of our state’s 1.4 million students, and many of our dedicated educators,” she said.
Rowan-Salisbury administrators have been busily calculating what the budget proposal will mean to specific schools in the system, if it is approved.
Rowan-Salisbury schools would lose a total of 84 teachers and 90 assistants.
Other staff would be cut as well, including assistant principals, guidance counselors, nurses, attendance counselors, custodians, media specialists, reading tutors, curriculum specialists, intervention specialists, literacy coaches, administrators and support staff. Administrators have not yet identified positions at schools for these cuts.
The bill proposes increasing classroom maximums from 24 to 26 students in grades K through 3. There are no maximums for grades 4 and up. It also does away with staff development and trims programs for students at risk of dropping out of school.
Recent additions to the bill include cuts for special education totaling $15 million statewide. Local administrators are uncertain at this point as to what the Rowan-Salisbury loss would be. Money for supplies is also further slashed.
School systems use a specific formula for calculating exactly how many personnel to cut based on the student head count in each school.
Contact information
House members from Rowan County and their contact information:
– Rep. Lorene Coates can be reached by e-mail at Lorene.Coates@ncleg.net, by telephone at 919-733-5784 or by mail at N.C. House of Representatives, 300 N. Salisbury Street, Room 633, Raleigh, NC 27603-5925.
– Rep. Fred Steen can be reached at Fred.Steen@ncleg.net, 919-733-5881 or N.C. House of Representatives, 300 N. Salisbury Street, Room 514, Raleigh, NC 27603-5925.
Leaders on the House Appropriations Committee:
– Rep. Henry M. Michaux, Jr., senior chairman, Mickey.Michaux@ncleg.net, 919-715-2528
– Rep. Alma Adams, Alma.Adams@ncleg.net, 919-733-5902
– Rep. Martha B. Alexander, Martha.Alexander@ncleg.net, 919-733-5807
– Rep. James W. Crawford, Jr., Jim.Crawford@ncleg.net, 919-733-5824
– Rep. R. Phillip Haire, Phillip.Haire@ncleg.net, 919-715-3005
– Rep. Maggie Jeffus, Maggie.Jeffus@ncleg.net, 919-733-5191
– Rep. Joe P. Tolson, Joe.Tolson@ncleg.net, 919-715-3024
– Rep. Douglas Y. Yongue, Douglas.Yongue@ncleg.net, 919-733-5821
A complete list of committee members, with links to their contact information, is available on the N.C. General Assembly Web site at www.ncleg.net. Follow the links marked “House,” “House Committees” and “Appropriations.”

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