Kannapolis plans to rehire laid-off teacher assistants
By Sarah Campbell
KANNAPOLIS ó Teacher assistants who were laid off by the Kannapolis City school system in April could be back in the classroom by August.
During a work session Wednesday, the Board of Education discussed streamlining operations by hiring 24 teacher assistants, 12 who will also serve as bus drivers and 12 as substitute bus drivers.
The move would allow for a teacher assistant in every classroom in both kindergarten and first grade.
Some of the 49 teacher assistants who received pink slips from the district could be rehired.
Will Crabtree, director of business operations, said the teacher assistants hired as permanent drivers must already have their bus license.
ěThey are going to be driving daily from day one,î he said.
The other teacher assistants will have an opportunity to get certified before they are expected to start filling in.
Crabtree said hiring personnel for the dual role will not only be a benefit for the classroom, it will also ensure reliable drivers are available.
ěThis made the most sense to us and it was cost effective,î he said.
Crabtree said half of the teacher assistantsí pay can come from the transportation budget.
ěWhen you split the cost between the two of them, itís very fiscally feasible.î
More at Four pre-kindergarten teachers could also be rehired. Eleven of the teachers from the program were laid off in April in anticipation of cuts.
Crabtree said he found out Wednesday the program will likely survive.
ěIím 99 percent sure it will be restored,î he said.
Officials with the district say they are working together to create a ěsustainableî budget for this fiscal year.
Crabtree said the budget gap will widen next year, but steps are being taken now That will help cushion the blow.
ěWe want to be responsible and provide for the needs of the school system, but we also want to be able to sustain next year,î he said.
Crabtree said after this year the school system will be facing a $1 million deficit with the loss of the federal Education Jobs funding.
And while district will have to make more than $1.5 million in state discretionary cuts this year, Crabtree said that figure will be higher next year.
Crabtree said the district will shuffle funds to find the best way to stretch each dollar.
Fewer local funds will be used this year in order to preserve dollars for the deficit. Four teachers will be paid using local dollars. Crabtree said typically that number is between 12 to 14.
Crabtree said the district will use its more than $279,000 portion of low-wealth funds from the state as a supplement to free up other sources of funding to save for next yearís shortfall.
Crabtree said although the district has been able to remedy many of its budget woes, one problem it canít solve is lack of technology money.
ěThere is no technology funding from the state. It was cut,î he said.
Crabtree said that could be problematic as state assesments move from paper to computer. ěWe cannot have 21st century schools and students without a technology budget,î Superintendent Dr. Pam Cain said.
School board member Todd Adams said technology is vital for todayís students.
ěIf we are going to be able to reach them in the classroom we are going to have to have the technology to teach them,î he said.
Cain said the district is going to be proactive about the lack of technology money by doing fundraising and seeking grants.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.