News & Observer: After N.C. classroom layoff angst, schools make do

Here’s an excerpt from the Raleigh News & Observer article:

A year after widespread worries that thousands of teachers would face layoffs because of state budget cuts, the dimming days of summer vacation see schools coping and holding stable ahead of a new academic year. …

This year’s Republican-written state budget adds more than $250 million to K-12 education spending, reducing cuts lawmakers delegated for local school districts to make. Despite that, public schools will have $190 million less to spend than they received last year. That’s because the additional state funds didn’t fully cancel out the loss of $259 million in federal education jobs money. …

School administrators in Wake and Buncombe counties credit fiscal controls with building reserves they’re tapping now to tide them over, with hopes that the economy will improve, tax collections increase and more education funding returns. …

One reason for the relative calm this year is that administrators had a year’s notice on how legislators planned to fund education, Buncombe County Schools personnel director Cynthia Lopez said. Last year, the two-year state budget that provides some school districts with 80 percent of their funding wasn’t approved until well after their normal planning and hiring cycle for the new academic year started.

“So with very conservative budgeting and the cuts that we’ve made the past three years, we were positioned to not have to make cuts this year,” Lopez said.

The district is able to afford to replace about 200 teachers and principals who have left, which is about the normal 10 percent turnover for Buncombe County’s 2,000 licensed educators, Lopez said.


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