North Carolina's governor, and N.C. Association of Educators' campaign favorite, Bev Perdue, is currently recommending cutting next year's state education funding by 5 to 10 percent, which could eliminate up to 26 Beaufort County teaching positions as early as next fall, according to a budget cut proposal recently prepared by the Department of Public Instruction.
The exact amount cut, however, will depend on what the North Carolina General Assembly can agree to during next year's budget workshops. At that time, state legislators will be charged with reining in $3.5 billion of budgetary allowances. The 5- and 10-percent cuts would save the state $701 million to $1.1 billion, when added to the already assigned $304 million reduction in education funding.
In light of the proposed curtailing of state support, Beaufort County schools stand to lose from $2,541,942 to $3,745,628 in funding; 21 to 26 classroom teachers; four instructional support positions; from $77,172 to $115,758 for assistant principals; from $91,840 to $137,760 for Career and Technical Education; and from $969,514 to $1,813,454 for teacher assistants.
If a 5-percent cut is passed, the state would only fund teacher assistants for kindergarten, first grade and half of the second-grade classes. If a 10-percent cut is passed, state funding for teacher assistants would be limited to kindergarten classes.
Class sizes would certainly increase in either case. With a 5-percent cut, kindergarten- through third-grade classes would increase by one student; fourth- through sixth-grade classes, by two; seventh- through eighth-grade classes, by three; and ninth-grade classes by 1.5. With a 10-percent cut, kindergarten- through third-grade classes would increase by one student; fourth- through sixth-grade classes, by three; seventh- through eighth-grade classes, by four; and ninth-grade classes by 1.5.
State agencies outside education were asked by Perdue's budget office to suggest cuts of up to 15 percent.
There is time, of course, for plans to change before action is taken. Perdue will not send the legislature her official proposed budget until next year. The final budget will be approved by the General Assembly during summer 2011.