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Teachers’ assistants suffer brunt of state cuts Numbers affected locally aren’t clear yet as budget details come into focus

Rowan-Salisbury School System leaders say fewer teachers’ assistants will be in classrooms this school year due to cuts in the state budget.
Gov. Pat McCrory officially signed the $21.1 billion state budget Thursday, which lawmakers approved last week.
The district’s teacher assistant allocation was cut by an estimated 22 percent, which is $1.3 million.
“We’ll probably make some announcements early next week once we can get a handle on what it means to us,” Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody said.
She added that the district probably wouldn’t be able to rehire some teachers’ assistants.
Elementary classrooms won’t be the only part of the district affected by the cuts. Many of the assistants double as bus drivers.
The district’s at-risk funding also will take a 5 percent hit, or $200,000.
The North Carolina Department of Public instruction wasn’t immune to cuts. The department will lose 10 percent of its funding, or just more than $5 million.
Moody said the Department of Public Instruction has a “fairly lean staff already.”
“We have a tremendous amount of mandates and someone has to interpret and assist the school system through those mandates,” she said, adding that it will have a trickle-down effect on the Rowan-Salisbury School System.
She believes it will mean less training, and it will be harder to get questions answered.
“It will certainly have an impact on support services provided to our schools,” said Tara Trexler, the district’s chief financial officer.
The budget isn’t all bad news, though.
On average, teachers will receive a 7 percent raise.
“We are pleased that teachers did get a raise this year,” Moody said.
“It’s a brand new ballgame for us,” she said, adding that the state is moving to a new salary schedule.
Trexler said she and the rest of the district’s financial department will be “deciphering and distributing information related to the salary schedules and related provisions in the budget bill” over the next few days.
Teachers with up to four years of experience will receive $3,300 a month, and those with five to nine years will receive $3,650. Teachers with 10 to 14 years will make $4,000. A monthly salary of $4,350 will be awarded to teachers with 15 to 19 years of experience, while those with 20 to 24 will receive $4,650. Teachers with 25 or more years of experience will ear $5,000 each month.
Longevity is built into the new salary schedule, so teachers will not receive any extra payments for longevity after July 1, 2014.
Moody said she’s happy with the progress in paying teachers fairly, but said there’s “a long way to go.”

Other changes with the new state budget:
• Principals will also receive an experience-based raise.
• Noncertified and central office staff will receive a $500 raise.
• Kindergarten and first grade classroom sizes will be decreased by one student.
• General fund support of the Teaching Fellows program has been eliminated.
• Funding for driver’s education beginning next year has been eliminated.

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