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Kannapolis schools hit by Senate budget

By Sarah Campbell
scampbell@salisburypost.com
KANNAPOLIS — State funding for Kannapolis City Schools is on the line under the Senate-drafted budget proposal.
The proposal, released Tuesday, decreases funding to city school systems by 20 percent next year and completely cuts it in 2012-13.
Though city school districts would not be forced to consolidate with county systems, the loss of funding dollars could leave little choice.
“It’s still so early on in the process it’s still not clear what the plan would mean for the next couple of years,” Will Crabtree, the Kannapolis district’s finance officer, said Tuesday. “Clearly, after the second year with the total phase-out it would be extremely difficult with that loss of funds to overcome that.”
Superintendent Dr. Pam Cain said she was surprised to hear the news Tuesday.
“It was not in the governor’s budget or the House budget,” she said. “I think our parents and community will be very disheartened by this.”
School board chairwoman Danita Rickard said though there has been talk of merging city and county school districts for years, the concept usually falls flat in committee.
“I’m hoping the House budget will prevail” she said.
Rickard said studies conducted by the school system and the Cabarrus County Commissioners have shown that merging the school districts would not save money.
School board member Todd Adams said it would be a “sad day” if legislators decide to slash funding for city schools.
“I would expect costs to go up and performance to go down,” he said. “I’m afraid our students will get lost if we get rolled into the county school system.
“I belive the success of our students is directly tied to the size of our system.”
Rickard said being a small district has given Kannapolis an edge to keep students from falling through the cracks.
“We know our kids, they’re not numbers to us,” she said.
Crabtree said the measure would send Rowan and Cabarrus county students to their respective county school systems.
But things could get sticky because facilties in both counties were built for using taxpayer dollars from each county.
Crabtree said one example is Kannapolis Middle School, which physically sits in Cabarrus, but was built using bond money from Rowan.
“If we were to split I could see that being an issue,” he said.
Ellen Boyd, the district’s director of community relations, said the nuts and bolts of cutting funding is “extremely complicated.”
“You’re really disrupting the education of a lot of students across the state,” she said. “And you are taking people away from the core business of educating children while they are trying to work out the logistics.”
Cain said she expects the community to rally behind the school system, just as they have to protest school cuts that forced layoffs.
“It’s very clear that our parents and community are really vested in our schools,” she said.
Rickard said now is the time for residents to step up.
“They need to flood Sen. (Fletcher) Hartsell and Sen. (Andrew) Brock with phone calls,” she said. “They need to make their wishes known because they know where the school board and administrators stand.”
Adams said he’d like to see the community fight back.
“We’ll lose a lot of our community identity if we lose our city schools,” he said. “If they’ve never called their representative before, if they’ve never been one to be politically active in the past, now is the time.
“They haven’t seen a fight out of me yet, but I’ll fight as hard as I can to save Kannapolis City Schools.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
K-12 education budget outlook
School officials have yet to receive the specific allotment formula changes that would accompany the Senate-drafted state budget proposal.
But one of the most notable changes from the House budget is the measure to reduce class size in kindergarten through third grades and to eliminate state funding for teacher assistants in every grade except kindergarten.
“Under the Senate proposal, instead of receiving funding for 255 teacher assistants (based on projected K-3rd ADM), we would only receive funding for 66 assistant positions which is, of course, the removal of funding for 189 assistant positions,” Tara Trexler, chief financial officer with the Rowan-Salisbury School System, said in an e-mail to the Post.
Trexler said the Senate version of the budget also eliminates deep cuts to at-risk, academically and intellectually gift (AIG) and limited English program.
 Provision
• Class-size reductions for grades 1-3.

• Performance-based reduction in force.

• School bus replacement.

• Teaching Fellows program.

• Academically and/or Intellectually Gifted (AIG).

• Central office adminstration.

• School building adminstration.

• At-risk student services.
Senate
• Allotment ratio from grades 1-3 from 1:18 to 1:17; 1,124 teaching positions added in fiscal-year 2011-12 and 1,444 positions added in fiscal 2012-13.
• Directs school systems to develop their own RIF policies incorporating performance
• Shifts responsibility for school bus replacement to local school systems beginning fiscal 2012-13.
• Begins program phase-out in fiscal 2012-13.
• No funding cuts.
• Reduces allotment by 16 percent.
• Reduces funding for assistant principals by 21 percent.
• No funding cuts.
House
• Not applicable.
• Direct the State Board to develop uniform rules requiring school system to consider performance when RIF-ing employees.
• House funds 700 for 1,587 buses slated for replacement in fiscal 2011-12 and retains responsibility.
• Both reduce administrative set-aside from $810,000 to $600,000.
• Reduces allotment by 9 percent.
• Reduces allotment by 9 percent.
• Reduces funding for assistant principals by 17 percent.
• Reduces allotment by 12 percent.
How to contact state legislators
Rowan County
Sen. Andrew Brock
919-715-0690
Andrew.Brock@ncleg.net
Mailing address: NC Senate, 300 N. Salisbury St, Room 623 Raleigh, NC 27603-5925
Cabarrus County
Sen. Fletcher Hartsell
919-733-7223
Fletcher.Hartsell@ncleg.net
Mailing address: NC Senate, 300 N. Salisbury St., Room 300-C Raleigh, NC 27603-5925

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