State Board of Education: Budget cuts ‘will adversely impact our students’

State Board of Education: Budget cuts ‘will adversely impact our students’

- in Education

 — The State Board of Education approved $2.5 million in cuts to the state Department of Public Instruction on Tuesday as a result of mandated budget reductions by the General Assembly. Most of the cuts are expected to impact low-performing schools and teacher training in the state. An additional $737,000 in cuts are expected in the coming weeks.

The board voted unanimously Tuesday to make $1.6 million in staff cuts to the state education department, which include:

  • Seven full-time employees
  • Three temporary employees
  • Eight vacant positions in the following divisions: district and school transformation (six positions), educator effectiveness (one position) and curriculum and instruction (one position)
  • 19 instructional coaches will get pay cuts and be reduced from 12-month to 10-month employees.

Board Chairman Bill Cobey declined to say which positions are being cut, citing personnel laws, but said they will be revealed at a later date. He said the majority of the staff cuts will be in the District Transformation and Educator Effectiveness divisions. The board plans to merge the two divisions into a new one, called District Support.

“Hopefully the districts can pick up any slack that is produced by this reduction,” Cobey said. “We’re further reducing the service to the districts. Hopefully you won’t see any huge impact any place, but there’s going to be marginal impact in certain places across the state. And we’re going to try our best to mitigate that.”

The board also approved $865,168 in operating reductions, which include:

  • $306,705 – Contractual services
  • $143,666 – Employee education/professional development
  • $131,412 – Temporary employees
  • $87,493 – Travel
  • $69,365 – Supplies, materials, program delivery
  • $62,853 – Equipment/maintenance of equipment
  • $26,164 – Postage
  • $22,510 – Phone
  • $15,000 – Dues & subscriptions

Board member Eric Davis said the budget cuts “will adversely impact our students, especially those in districts and schools which rely most heavily on the Department of Public Instruction.”

“And, so, my hope is that in future years our superintendent, in partnership with the General Assembly, will prevent future adverse impacts to our students through budget reductions to the Department of Public Instruction,” Davis added.

State Superintendent Mark Johnson attended Tuesday’s meeting by conference call and released the following statement after the board’s vote:

“While these funding cuts will be challenging, I did not run for Superintendent of Public Instruction to shirk away from the challenges of leadership. The General Assembly is clearly frustrated with the lack of accountability of the State Board of Education, and I am too. The culture of a non-accountability created by the State Board is one of the reasons I sought funding for a top-to-bottom, third-party review of DPI. By studying the results from this upcoming operational review and working together with the professional staff at DPI, I believe the department will come out stronger, more efficient, and more effective at supporting public schools in NC. The Board seems to prefer to complain and instead focuses only on more of the same. I embrace the positive changes that can result from addressing this substantive challenge head-on. We can and will be a better DPI at the end of this process.”

The General Assembly voted to reduce the state education department’s operating funds by 6.2 percent – $3.2 million – for 2017-18 and 13.9 percent – $7.3 million – for 2018-19.

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