Perdue's budget, the governor said repeatedly yesterday, funds every existing state-funded teacher and teacher's assistant position. But it seems clear that other cuts the governor proposed to K-12 schools could threaten teaching jobs, even if the GOP-led legislature doesn't specifically cut teachers.
For example, Perdue recommends eliminating state funding for new school buses, for technology and for training. She cuts a number of other funding pots, including school custodians and bus drivers.
Less obvious is another issue, which WRAL's Laura Leslie wrote about last night:
Perdue's budget chief Charlie Perusse said today that in figuring the cost for “enrollment growth" students next year, the governor decided to make a change: The state would pay only for the classroom portion of the per-pupil money.Laura also breaks down various position cuts (bus drivers, custodians, administrators) by district, figuring that they amounts to 38 non-classroom positions per school system.
In other words:
Public schools would get only 75 percent of the per-pupil money they were expecting for their 5,300 additional students.
School systems have some flexibility when it comes to absorbing cuts. But class size maximums are set by the state, which limits a system's ability to layoff teachers and shift money to other parts of their budget. But, systems can apply for a class size waiver, and in the past the state has simply OK'd mass waivers to remove size restrictions statewide for 4th through 12th grades.
But, according to the state Department of Public Instruction, that mass waiver is contained in the current year budget (the second section 7.8.(b) of this bill, if you'd like to read it). That means it's only good for this budget year, which ends June 30.
So, as we talk about protecting teaching jobs, one the key factors – if not the key factor — is what language legislators and the governor put into the final 2011-12 budget about class size restrictions.