After the General Assembly passed the state’s budget earlier this week, the hunt to understand the local implications of the budget begins. On Friday, July 26, Buncombe County Schools Superintendent Tony Baldwin released a statement about what the state budget may mean for the local public school system.
Baldwin says that at this time it appears that no assistants will lose employment as a result of these budget cuts despite a 21 percent reduction in state funds for teaching assistants, specifically K-3 assistants. However, he explains, that other changes may be coming as a result of the adopted budget. “The reduction of days employed for all assistants from 210 to 205 days and the elimination of 24 positions assigned beyond K-3 classrooms appear highly likely,” Baldwin says. “The possibility of reducing various categories of assistants from an eight- to a seven-hour daily schedule remains as a potential option dependent upon our specific allotments.”
Baldwin’s statement can be found in full below:
The final version of the 2013-15 state budget has received approval from the General Assembly. We are in the process of interpreting data from statewide appropriations into the specific dollar impact on our school system. In addition, an analysis of several pieces of new legislation that have significant implications to public school education is fully underway.
Over the past four years we have operated under a discretionary adjustment or reversion of state funds that has accumulated on a recurring basis to slightly over six million dollars. A major shift in our state budgeting process will be the elimination of the adjustment in favor of state-defined reductions in categories of allocations including classroom teachers, instructional support (media coordinators, counselors, etc.) and instructional supplies. As we transition into the sixth consecutive year of serious budgetary challenges, every effort will be made to place the highest budget priority on protecting the instructional environment especially at the classroom teacher level.
In 2012-13, Buncombe County Schools funded 276 full-time instructional assistant positions through state or local dollars. These staff members worked directly with students in kindergarten through third grade classrooms across our 24 elementary schools. The final state budget calls for a 21 percent reduction in state funds appropriated for K-3 assistants. While the percentage amount remained in question, the intent to reduce the allocation was apparent in the previous budget models and we were able to communicate the strong likelihood of the cuts to staff prior to the end of the school year. As we work toward determining specific dollar amounts within this category, the reduction of days employed for all assistants from 210 to 205 days and the elimination of 24 positions assigned beyond K-3 classrooms appear highly likely. The possibility of reducing various categories of assistants from an eight- to a seven-hour daily schedule remains as a potential option dependent upon our specific allotments. As a result of attrition, it appears at this time that no assistants will lose employment as a result of these budget cuts. Our intent is to provide written notification to any assistant directly impacted by a decision on or before August 1st.
Among the new components of legislation to soon impact our system is the Excellent Public Schools Act. A central theme of the act is the importance assigned to developing a successful K-3 foundation of literacy skills for each and every student. The Buncombe County School System strongly shares this core belief and recognizes the direct relationship between a weak foundation and a student’s struggle to graduate. For this reason, we believe that a full set of resources including both the classroom teacher and associated support staff is needed to provide the most productive instructional environment possible.