Vance County Schools trying to keep all jobs

Aug. 02, 2013 @ 08:56 PM

Vance County Schools open two weeks from Monday, and on Friday afternoon finally received information on funding from the state.

Finance officer Robert Newby confirmed the school system received notice, which normally arrives in early July. Superintendent Ronald Gregory did not return calls or email seeking comment.

On Thursday, Gregory said the school system would try and maintain as many jobs as possible against trying circumstances.

“There’s 5,200 teaching positions lost, 3,800 teacher assistants lost, 272 instructional support positions lost,” Gregory said Thursday of the state budget passed by the General Assembly. “There’s money lost in other areas, like textbooks, supplies, English Second Language.

“If we’ve done more in K-12, then why are we laying off all these teachers and why not give them raises?”

Gregory described the school system’s approach as measured and anticipatory of cuts. The plan has been to utilize attrition and other means available to keep Vance County Schools employees in jobs, though sometimes that might require a shift in responsibility.

“We’re going to do everything we can to keep everybody employed,” Gregory said.

According to information from the Henderson-Vance Economic Development Commission, the school system employs about 1,200, ranking it ahead of all manufacturing and non-manufacturing employers in the county.

The process of schools learning their funding begins with the planning allotments based on average daily membership. A conference committee reviews the figure, makes adjustments, and sends forward a tentative figure.

Gregory had that in hand Thursday.

Comparing the planning allotment to the conference committee recommendation, Vance County had 23 fewer teachers, two fewer instructional support positions, $569,863 less in teacher assistants, $348,895 less in textbooks and $205,988 less in classroom materials.

“How do you lose teacher money, materials, supplies and then say you put more money in education than before?” Gregory said.

The state sets the rate of teachers to students across the state. The conference committee recommendations this year were 1:19 in kindergarten, 1:18 in grades 1-3, 1:24 in grades 4-6, 1:23 in grades 7-8, 1:26.5 in ninth grade and 1:29 in grades 10-12.

“If you calculate those, then you can see where you have to do teacher cutting,” Gregory said.

At a Thursday press conference in Chapel Hill, Gov. Pat McCrory went on the defensive about the education section of the budget he has signed.

McCrory said North Carolina will spend $7.9 billion, or $23 million more than a year ago, on kindergarten through 12th grade.

McCrory’s stop was picketed, with protesters upset about an end to job security provisions for veteran teachers and moving $20 million to help low-income children attend private or religious schools.

Contact the writer at awooten@hendersondispatch.com.