Budget impact uncertain

Effect of lower state funding for teacher assistants unclear
Aug. 14, 2014 @ 04:41 PM

The state budget passed and signed into law last week lowers total funding allocated for teacher assistants, but the impact it will have on area school districts is still unclear.

Vance County Schools received more than $2.1 million for teacher assistants from the state last school year, which provided funding for 71 teacher assistants for all schools, according to spokeswoman Terri Hedrick.

“Currently, we plan no changes in our teacher assistant positions for the new school year,” Hedrick wrote in an email. “We haven’t yet received our state allotments and will make decisions, if needed, based on the allotments once we get them.”

Last year, the teacher assistant budget allotment for Granville County Schools was more than $2.3 million, according to Stan Winborne, spokesman for Granville County Schools.

“We employed 127 teacher assistants in the 2013-2014 school year in Granville County Public Schools,” he wrote in an email. “We are just beginning to review the impact the new budget will have on our staffing for this coming year. It is too soon for us to provide specific details about particular positions or programs, but we are committed to ensure that any potential reductions in state funding will have as little impact on the classroom as possible.”

He said the school district does not expect it will reduce the number of teacher assistant positions for the upcoming school year.

“However, we do anticipate the reduction in teacher assistant funding from the state will have a negative impact on our overall budget,” he wrote in an email.

The $21.1 billion budget lowers funding allocated for assistants by $85 million compared to last year.

But Gov. Pat McCrory and Republicans in the General Assembly maintain the budget has the same funding this year as last year for teacher assistants and teachers currently in the classroom, according to reports from The Associated Press.

The budget also includes $500 raises for teacher assistants.

For local teachers and administrators, a decrease in teacher assistants could have wide-ranging effects.

E.O. Young Principal Marylaura McKoon said teacher assistants at her school are part of a child’s learning process every day.

She said assistants can oversee the class when teachers need to spend one-on-one attention with students who are behind in some content areas.

“They help teachers look for patterns, and they read to students every day,” she said. “They don’t do paperwork or run copies. TAs don’t do that at our school. Our teacher assistants act like teachers.”

Alice Clark Sallins, a teacher at Dabney Elementary, said teacher assistants provide needed supervision in younger grades.

“It’s not like years ago when kids were more focused and disciplined,” she said. “Nowadays, if you have a room full of kids, you have got to watch them all the time. With all these big cuts, I feel like we are suffering.”

 

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.