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24 more teacher positions slated for local schools

Funding depends on final approval of state budget

AMANDA SEBASTIANO
Staff Writer

Lincoln County may see additional teaching positions next year, according to some of the changes in the proposed state education budget for the upcoming 2012-2013 school year that were presented at Monday night’s Budget and Finance Committee meeting.
As a result of retirements and instructors not being replaced, 21 positions weren’t filled following the 2011-2012 school year. The funds are available to bring back those positions with the addition of three more.
However, there will only be enough money for those extra jobs for one year. After the funding runs out, the committee is hoping to finance the positions in 2013-2014 by using savings from another part of the new budget – the Local Education Agency (LEA) Adjustment Reduction — which is set to allot about $2.8 million.
Assistant Superintendent for Business Affairs Steve Zickefoose is hopeful that with proper planning, the new positions can be kept after the first year.
“We have over $2 million here,” Zickefoose told fellow committee members. “Half will go to save jobs, and the other half will be for paying the bills.”
Committee members Tommy Houser and Kelly Childers made motions to fund the 24 positions, and the rest of the group seemed enthusiastic about the new jobs.
Another noteworthy component of the budget provides $27 million to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction for the Excellent Public Schools Act — which puts a focus on five components: K-3 literacy; school performance grades; additional school days; establishment of an N.C. Teacher Corps and the Pay for Excellence program.
Third-graders who aren’t deemed “reading proficient” won’t be promoted to the next grade level, unless a written submission and appropriate documentation from the teacher and principal are submitted to the superintendent for approval.
How a school is rated, on A-F and 0-100 scales, will now be posted on each school’s website, with notices sent out to parents whose children attend schools with D and F rankings.
The school year will be slightly longer, keeping students in class for 185 days. If extra funding is needed for transportation costs and other expenditures for adding the extra days, close to $392,000 will be available.
Another component will create a teacher corps designed to recruit, train and place recent-college graduates and “mid-career professionals” in schools needing help next year.
Finally under the act, all school districts will have the opportunity to each send a plan to the State Board of Education that outlines merit-based systems that recognize licensed employees for high performance. Interested school districts will be responsible for creating its own system, and will present reports to the board by March 1, 2013 and will later report to the General Assembly April 15.
A tentative version of the state budget was passed in the House and Senate and is in the process of being reviewed by Gov. Beverly Perdue. Zickefoose said he is confident, though, that the budget will pass.
Other budget items:
State employees will see a salary increase of 1.2 percent – an “across the board” boost that includes those in public schools, Zickefoose noted. A summary prepared by the committee estimates $63,000 as the cost for locally funded employees, which will be paid through the Adjustment Reduction and other state and federal programs.
The textbook allotment dropped 3 percent to $168,000 – a minimal impact compared to the 81 percent hit the materials took last school year.
The Policy Committee closed the night with the presentation of the student fee requests submitted by principals for each school in the county.
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Elaine Boysworth brought to attention the fees for students participating in the Career and Technical Education programs, which she said she worked to try to keep low. Some of the costs will be optional, with the exception of licensing and certification fees and the supplies necessary for those enrolled in cosmetology courses at Gaston College. There won’t be any surprises for anyone, Boysworth assured.

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