By Katherine Ayers
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Several Pitt County education officials said the $20.6 billion state budget proposed by Gov. Pat McCrory is a mixed bag.
The proposal, which includes increases for the N.C. Pre-K program, money for new teachers and more digital learning resources in K-12 classrooms, increases funding for technical education in community colleges, and promotes enrollment in high-demand fields at four-year university, was released on Wednesday.
The budget now goes to the House and Senate, where they will make changes and reconcile any differences. Their budget will then be sent back to McCrory who either will ratify or veto it.
A Pitt County Schools official said the budget includes both “benefits and drawbacks.”
Finance Assistant Superintendent Michael Cowin said the budget provides for an additional $1.2 million increase in textbooks funds in the next two years.
“We were also pleased that Governor McCrory signed House bills 23 and 44, which gives districts the ability to use this money to buy classroom technology to take advantage of the technology initiaves included in the state budget,” Cowin said.
The budget also gives a “substantial” increase in funding for instructional supplies, which translates into additional $500,000 for PCS. Although, the budget allotted money to hire 1,800 more full-time teachers across the state, it reduced the money given to fund teacher assistant positions
PCS Superintendent Beverly Emory said that she was “encouraged” by the money for full-time teachers, she remained concerned about the fact that the state ranks 46th in teacher pay.
The state budget pays particular attention to the need for two-year higher education institutions. Pitt Community College President Dennis Massey said he was pleased to see increases in performance-based funding that comes if an institution reaches its student success goals, in the funding for technical education equipment, and money to support the increased number of students.
“We grew seven percent this year, and unless we get state funding for the extra students, we may have to look at limiting capacity,” Massey said. “This money would allow us to keep up with the new students enrolled this year.”
Mary Schulken, executive director of communication, public affairs and marketing at ECU, said it was too soon to know what the effect would be at the university.
The University of North Carolina system President Tom Ross issued a statement that indicated he was “very concerned by the magnitude of the new cuts proposed for our campuses, particularly in light of the more than $400 million in permanent budget reductions we absorbed two years ago.”
“I worry about the impact additional reductions will have on our ability to provide high-quality educational opportunities to our residents and to assist in North Carolina’s economic recovery,” Ross said. “The University of North Carolina remains committed to operating more efficiently, while continuing to do our part to ensure North Carolina’s economic competitiveness and high quality of life.”
Ahead of the budget announcement, the N.C. Student Power Union, a student group dedicated to what members see as attacks on the public education system, released a set of demands that required “the wealthiest few and corporations to pay their fair share.”
Specific demands included no more cuts to public education, full funding for all UNC system programs and an increase to need-based financial aid.
“We feel the budget they’re proposing is for the one percent as opposed to the ones that need help,” ECU senior history major and member of the Student Power Union Andrew Gorman said.
“If you want a better education system, you need to fund it,” he said.
Contact Katherine Ayers at firstname.lastname@example.org and 252-329-9567. Follow her on Twitter @KatieAyersGDR.
On Tuesday, N.C. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger introduced a bill that would end teacher tenure, limit time spent on testing, grading whole schools on an A – F standard, and emphasize literacy.
Senate Bill 361 would strengthen teacher education programs, licensing requirements and professional development; limit amount of class time that can be used for end-of-grade tests; eliminate teacher tenure after June 30,2014; develop a system that rewards the best teachers; and grade schools based on how they fail, meet or exceed student achievement goals.
via The Daily Reflector.