The North Carolina Legislature has received a lot of criticism for its cuts to public education, adding pressure to the local government’s efforts to support its schools.
The Chapel Hill-Carrboro city school board has requested $3.8 million in local money, including $750,000 more in renovations.
If the county manager does not meet their budget request, CHCCS will have a $2.7 million shortfall, leading to “first round proposed reductions” in gifted specialists positions and central office staff members.
An additional two million in cuts affects the students more directly, through reductions in media assistance in schools, high school theatre classes, elementary teacher assistants and more gifted specialists.
Jeff Hall, president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro PTA council, says it is important for the commissioners to pick up the slack in funding caused by changes in the state budget, a job that needs to be done quickly and creatively.
“I have a third grader who is identified as gifted,” Hall said. I don’t want to see her lose a gifted specialist in her school that will meet her needs and help her develop as a child. There is nothing on this list (of cuts) that is okay.”
Governor Pat McCrory’s new $21 billion proposed budget includes $263 million towards increasing teachers pay in upcoming years, an amount many educators, like Culbreth Middle School teacher, Chuck Hennessee, find unrealistic.
“In a Republican legislature who has thus far not worked with (McCrory), they are not going to approve more taxes in order to get the budget that they need,” Hennessee said. “Is (McCrory) truly ignorant of what the real state of education in our state is?”
With many North Carolina teachers working multiple jobs and applying for public assistance, it is a clear indication of a lack in public education, even here in Orange County.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Assistant Superintendent Todd LoFrese said he fears the repercussions of that lack.
“Not meeting this funding request is going to have a direct impact on classroom and services provided to kids.”
The board of County Commissioners proposed budget includes a total $92.3 million in school spending, a $3 million increase in last year’s amount. The board will have to balance this delicate weight in order to best fund both districts, even with the budget increases. The Orange County school board is requesting $1.96 million more from the commissioners, a 5.7 percent increase.
“I believe in the (Orange County Commissioners) ability to find a way to fully fund both Orange County schools and Chapel Hill-Carrboro city schools for the upcoming year and we need them to do that now more than ever,” Hall said.
County commissioners will host two public hearings on the budget on May 22 and 29. The final budget will be adopted by June 17.http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/schools-request-increased-budget-orange-county
CHAPEL HILL – UNC Provost Jim Dean says University leaders are in the process of putting the final touches on this year’s budget.
“We’re on a fiscal year budget of July through June, but we can’t really do our budgeting until the legislature does their budgeting, and then the General Administration does their budget,” Dean says. “We’re downstream from that, so we’re getting close to the end of the budgeting.”
At its Aug. 9 meeting, the UNC System’s Board of Governors made it’s allocations for the 16 campuses, based on the North Carolina General Assembly’s two-year budget plan.
The legislature’s spending plan, which was approved in July, called for substantial cuts to the UNC System. The spending plan designated $115 million in permanent funding reductions to the System’s base operating budget.
State budget cuts also called for the elimination of all funding for the UNC School of Medicine. Five years ago, appropriations for the School of Medicine were about $46 million.
“We did better than we might have done but not quite so well as we would have hoped in certain areas,” Dean says. “We did end up with some budget cuts again. They are not so bad as we feared at one point.”
During four consecutive years of state budget cuts since the economic downturn, UNC campuses including Chapel Hill have faced significant reductions in state funding. Carolina has taken approximately $235 million in total state cuts since 2008, according to UNC’s website.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/unc-budget-close-to-completion
CHAPEL HILL –Two UNC students were arrested Wednesday in Raleigh during in a protest of more than 350 people. The group rallied against a recent wave of controversial state legislation.
“In this moment, we felt like we had no other option,” said UNC senior Zaina Alsous.
The group, NC Student Power Union, mobilized hundreds of college students from 10 universities across the state on May Day.
Alsous and fellow UNC student Carissa Morrison were both charged with disorderly conduct. Morrison was also charged with misdemeanor assault on a government official. Five students in total were taken into custody.
The rally began at the NC State Bell Tower and ended at the NC State Legislature. Protestors held a banner that read: “We Demand a Future! Stop budget cuts! Stop racist voter laws! Stop attacks on workers!”
This coming just two days after 17 people were arresting during an NAACP demonstration against a House-supported voter ID bill.
“We hope that other community members will see what is going on and express their discontent as well. We know that these policies are incredibly unpopular,” Alsous said.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s proposed budget cuts to the UNC System total more than $140 million.
“I don’t know any college who wants to pay more for tuition, who wants to lose their financial aid, and with these budget cuts, more than 8,000 students would lose financial aid,” Alsous said.
Art Pope is McCrory’s budget director –Alsous believes with the proposed budget cuts, affordable and accessible higher education is being put at risk.
“We’ve had call-in days where hundreds of calls have been made to Pope and well as Governor McCrory urging them to stop attacking public education. And we’ve never gotten a response,” Alsous said.
Alsous said the protests will continue throughout the summer.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/unc-student-arrested-during-protest-we-felt-like-we-had-no-other-option