The county’s school system faces total projected reductions in state and federal funding – exclusive of any local cuts – of almost $4 million (which includes the loss of over $1 million in federal “stimulus” money). If local county government funding were to hold even with last year – a frail hope – then the local schools would have to fire 33 teachers, 28 teaching assistants, and 12½ administrative, clerical, and other staff positions.
That bloodbath is IF county funding were to stay at 2010-2011 levels. If not, things will be even worse.
Currently, NC Senator Dan Soucek and NC Rep. Jonathan Jordan are part of the Republican majority in the General Assembly busily chipping away at public education. Their Senate Bill 8 (lifting the cap on Charter schools) and House Bill 41 (vouchers for private schools) will be particularly pernicious. Senate Bill 8 alone will cost our public schools some $667,000 just in reimbursements from the federal government for school lunches. Those reimbursements under SB8 will have to be shared with Charter schools, even though Charter schools do not offer meals.
The message to Sen. Soucek and Rep. Jordan: Watauga County Schools are coming up on the third year of budget reductions (federal, state, and local), and we do not need to compound our problems with the hidden bombs lodged inside SB8 and HB41.
School Superintendent Marty Hemric shared the letters he had written Soucek and Jordan after the local School Board voted unanimously to oppose SB8 and HB41. The “money” quote:
“If public education continues to be reduced consistent with the past two years, Watauga County Schools stand to lose approximately 69.5 positions. We encourage you to find ways to fund public education first to avoid the projected 10% reduction in state funding plus an additional 4% discretionary reduction. We have a strong local commitment to education but the severe forecast we’re hearing from state budget projections (not to mention the financial losses if HB41 & SB8 are successful) will compromise the quality of education in Watauga County and threaten to un-employ 33 teachers, 28 teaching assistants, and 12.5 administrative/clerical positions.”
It’s demonstrably doubtful that Soucek and Jordan are listening to anyone other than their partisan masters.
Locally, without new revenue (property tax increase?), the local County Commission can only contribute more fuel to burning down the schoolhouse.