State Senate Wants to Slash Teachers Assistant Funding, Nearly in Half

The $21.1 billion draft budget released today in the Republican State Senate cuts funding for teachers assistants by $233.2 million.

The proposed allotment would provide $971.75 for each currently enrolled student in grades K-1.

But the funding would no longer be allocated based on enrollment of students in K-3.

Allocation of teacher-assistant funds for those grades would be left up to Local Education Agencies.

Culbreth Middle School Teacher Chuck Hennessee is president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Association of Educators, and he’s is not happy about what he’s hearing.

“This is a classic example of our legislators not having a clue as to what really happens in a school – of what needs to happen in order for all of our children to learn,” says Hennessee.

He says that teachers’ assistants are instrumental in many different aspects of a typical school day – particularly in the early grades, in situations where a teacher has lots of young pupils in one classroom.

“Any parent that has more then one child knows that it can be difficult if you’re trying to deal with more than on child at a time,” says Hennessee. “ If you can imagine having – with their newly uncapped levels from our General Assembly – upwards of 25 to 30 children in a class, and having your child need special assistance, but not being able to receive it, simply because of poor legislation.”

Hennessee says he’s also not happy about the Senate plan to give teachers big pay raises, but only if they agree to give up tenure.

“The teacher-salary plan is nothing but a veiled attempt to get teachers to give up the right to due process,” says Hennessee, “which is a basic right in the state of North Carolina for all state employees.”

The proposed State Senate Budget also cuts the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction by 30 percent.

You can read the entire budget here.

NC Senate’s Budget Proposal Raises Red Flags For CHCCS

CHAPEL HILL – As the Orange County Commissioners and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education work-out their budget issues with in the county —the state Senate also released its proposed $20.6 billion budget this week.

“We had a pretty depressing weekend in terms of budget recommendations. First, the county manager’s budget came out on Friday and then on Sunday, the state Senate’s version of the budget was posted,” said Todd LoFrese, CHCCS assistant superintendent.

He says that the state senate’s budget proposal eliminates the discretionary reduction— LoFrese explains the discretionary reduction is a cut of the funding the districts were expected to return as a cost-saving measure for the state.

LoFrese says the understanding was that it was a temporary measure until the economy recovered. Now, he says the Senate has proposed to eliminate the discretionary reduction with out restoring the some of the funds to the school systems.

He says that loss in funds represents over 50 school positions for the school system.

And LoFrese says there are other funding cuts that concern him as well.

“It reduced support for ESL students, it reduced the funding for instructional supplies, it delays the replacement for school buses—the list just goes on and on,” he said.

The budget plan also calls cuts $142 million in teacher assistants funding. Lofrese says it will eliminate $1.3 million which equates to about 37 teachers. Funding cuts were also proposed to instructional support positions, like counselors, as well as the elimination of pay differentials for teachers with advance degrees.

Chair of the Orange County Commissioners Barry Jacobs says the board is aware of the problems that state’s budget cuts could cause for the district.

“The state is doing as much as it can to wound and dismantle public education in the name of trying to improve it,” Jacobs said.

“There are going to be all sorts of intended and unintended consequences of their actions.”

Orange County Town Manager Frank Clifton will present his budget proposal for OrangeCounty when the BoC meets at  7 p.m. Tuesday at the Southern Human Service Center on Homestead Road. Public comment sessions will follow in the coming months.

To read Clifton’s budget proposal for Orange County, click here.

“It’s like in Star Wars when Princess Leia said to Obi-Won-Kenobi ‘You are our last hope’—the commissioners do realize that we are the district’s last hope,” Jacobs said.

Follow the links to see the senate’s budget bill and associated money report.

Click here to see Gov. Pat McCrory’s proposed budget.

State Budget Proposal Out, Medicaid Changes Could Be In Store

CHAPEL HILL – The North Carolina Senate released its $20.6 billion budget proposal Sunday night. The plan for Medicaid—a topic that’s caused a lot controversy in our state— might see some changes.

Chapel Hill resident Tye Hunter participated in the NAACP protests outside the General Assembly and was arrested May 6 during a rally.

Hunter says he doesn’t agree with legislation coming out of the General Assembly in regards to health care. Hunter cites NC Governor’s Pat McCrory’s decision to reject the expanded federal Medicaid program in March. It’s estimated that about 500,000 low-income people health could have received coverage under the program.

“I just think that’s going in entirely the wrong direction. It seems that these decisions are being made with no consideration of the impact they will have on vulnerable people in North Carolina,” Hunter said.

The Senate’s budget plan for Medicaid adds about $1.2 billion in overall funding, according to a press release issued by Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger. However, it will reduce covered doctor visits on Medicaid from 22 to 10 per year (except for the chronically ill), raises co-pays for services, and cuts private nursing services by $5 million—among other changes.

Chapel Hill Carrboro NAACP chapter president Minister Robert Campbell has also attended to the protests in Raleigh and says health care is one of his main concerns.

“We’ve got to be equal about this thing. If it’s not going to affect the top—then we can’t pull the rug out from under the bottom,” Campbell said. “We are in a crisis. You can hear outcry of the general population—the people themselves.”

Berger’s news release states that Medicaid is “a runaway federal entitlement program that is diverting funds away from priorities like education, transportation and our judicial system.”

Follow the links to see the senate’s budget bill and associated money report.

Click here to see Gov. Pat McCrory’s proposed budget.