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School board hears of expected job cuts

By Sarah Campbell
scampbell@salisburypost.com
EAST SPENCER — On the evening before the release of the Senate’s state budget proposal, the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education talked about what the cutbacks could mean here.
Tara Trexler, the district’s chief financial officer, said the budget would cut funding for teacher assistants in first through third grades in order to fund teacher positions to lower class size.
But, the teacher/student ratio would only drop slightly from 1:18 to 1:17 next year, she said.
“It’s going to be a staggered process,” Trexler said.
School board member Dr. Richard Miller pointed out that means there will be one adult for every 17 children rather than two for 18.
Board member Kay Wright Norman said she’s concerned about where the budget is heading.
“By the time we get to that smaller class, we will have already lost some of the gains that we have made,” she said.
Trexler said another concern for the school system is the proposal to extend the school calendar by five days.
“It would remove five teacher workdays and make them instructional days,” she said. “A few years back we saw the calendar for teachers reduced from 220 to 215 day so we are already down five teacher workdays.”
Trexler said the additional days would also mean increased transportation costs.
“There are multiple layers with this, I’m not sure they have had the opportunity to work it down to all the impact,” she said. “I’m not sure they considered all that costs that will go along with this.”
A merit-based pay plan is also on the table, Trexler said.
“It would replace the current structure that is based solely on education level and years of experience,” she said.
Board chairman Dr. Jim Emerson said paying teachers based on student test scores could create an uneven playing field because of varying student ability levels.
“Those criticizing the plan say merit-based pay is not necessarily a bad idea, but it has to be done correctly,” Trexler said.
Trexler said though many GOP leaders say the penny sales tax, set to expire in June, is a mute point, educators are still fighting to keep it from sunsetting.
“It’s not a dead issue because the budget process is not over yet, there is still hope for us that it could be one of the solutions,” she said.


In other business:
The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education also:
• Approved a bid of $170,183 by Advantage Sports Surfaces of Charlotte to replace the track at East Rowan High School.
Gene Miller, assistant superintendent for operations, said the track has been patched numerous times since 1997 and has become a safety hazard.
The work is expected to be completed by the start of school this fall.
• Heard about summer programs from Dr. Rebecca Smith, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.
“We are providing opportunities for our students this summer to keep them engaged,” she said.
Opportunities include academically and intellectually gifted camps, camps at Horizons, and remediation programs at several of the high schools and an exceptional children’s camp.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.

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