Photo by Doug Wilson.

CHAPEL HILL – On Monday, three members from your local school district came together to talk about the newly released budget proposal that’s likely to be approved.

The panelists from the Chapel Hill-Carrboro system included Director of Student Equity, Graig Meyer, Former Teacher for East Chapel Hill High, Jennifer Colletti, and Assistant Superintendent for Support Services, Todd LoFrese.

***Listen to the Full Discussion***

Colletti said its not a black and white issue when talking about budget cuts.

“State budget cuts year after year, yes they impact teacher pay and that’s a huge thing, obviously we all get and go to work every day to pay our bills and feed ourselves, etcetera, but it impacts every other element of the teaching profession as well” Colletti said.

The new budget for North Carolina schools made cuts to teacher’s assistants, eliminated tenure, increased the cap on class size, and didn’t raise teacher’s salaries for another year.

Colletti taught for East Chapel Hill High for four years, never receiving a raise.  She found a better paying job working for a company based in the area.

“It was shocking because I was offered a starting salary in this position that I would not have earned if I had taught in the district for 38 years,” Colletti said. “There was no way I would have earned what they wanted to offer me at a non-profit institution.” 

North Carolina teachers now rank 48th for pay in the country.  Five years ago North Carolina ranked 26th, but since teachers have not received raises the past few years, they quickly fell behind.  LoFrese said the hiring process is not getting any easier.

“It’s getting harder and harder to recruit teachers to North Carolina or to get teachers within North Carolina, potential teachers, to take these positions because of what’s happening with pay and salary” LoFrese said.

The schools in North Carolina were informed that there may be budget cuts and to plan their budget for the upcoming year accordingly.  LoFrese said that although they planned for the cuts, the bill called for cuts similar to the Senate’s original plan rather than the House bill that had fewer cuts.

“Well we’ve been looking at the budget, both the Senate version, which was originally released back in the spring, and then the House version that came out, which in our opinion was a lot better than the Senate version, but what they released last night looks a lot closer to the Senate” said LoFrese.

The budget for TA’s in the area received a $1.1 million cut; the schools only budgeted to lose about 870,000 meaning that some TA’s will be fired: 3,800 across the state. Along with the TA’s, the school is losing funding for supplies and will lose three positions related to counseling and disability.

Meyer said in the end, there’s no other option, but it’s going to be detrimental to the children.

“That’s all you can cut, you can’t cut a bus route because you still have to run buses all over town; you can’t cut a cafeteria because you still have provide lunches in that cafeteria; you end up cutting things that directly help individual kids,” Meyer said.

The budget cuts to North Carolina schools were announced earlier this week and have many provisions that affect the schools in the area.