NC school board to press case for public education

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 5, 2012

RALEIGH (AP) — Days after a special meeting where dozens of local school superintendents described years of state budget cuts as hurting education, the state school board’s chairman said today the board will continue pressing the case for public education.
The State Board of Education plans an April 27 meeting to discuss the future of public schools and emphasize that they are a common good that benefit the entire state, Chairman Bill Harrison said.
“We’ll continue to speak out for what’s right. We’ll continue defining our direction,” Harrison said. “I’m not going to stand by and let kids be abused and let kids be ignored.”
His statement came days after the school board brought more than two dozen local superintendents to Durham to describe the effect of years of recession-driven budget cuts. The superintendents decried years of budget cuts to education under the Republican-led General Assembly and the Democratic leaders preceding the 2010 elections.
Since 2008-09, there are 5,134 fewer public school teachers and 22,122 more students statewide.
Public school leaders are ramping up their activity two months ahead of a legislative session in which lawmakers will be asked to replace more than $250 million. The last of the money from the federal stimulus package that kept teachers in the jobs runs out this year, leading superintendents to warn of classroom job cuts ahead.
The meeting comes days after the Union County school board voted to slash more than 400 classroom positions for the academic year starting in August to deal with a $10 million budget shortfall. The 55 teaching positions and more than 350 teacher assistant jobs are being cut to deal with a $10 million budget shortfall as the last of the federal stimulus money that kept teachers on the job runs out, Superintendent Ed Davis said. The school system has about 4,450 employees in 53 schools, including 2,555 teachers and administrators, The Charlotte Observer reported.
Gov. Beverly Perdue has spent weeks stumping for her solution: a statewide sales tax increase of three-quarters of a cent. Republican legislative leaders have vowed the General Assembly will not increase the sales tax.