Faced with a budget shortfall of $9.6 million, the Union County School Board has decided to dispense with over 400 classroom jobs from July 1, the start of the 2012-13 school fiscal year. While only 55 teacher positions were cut, over 350 teacher assistant jobs will be lost. Superintendent Ed Davis has said the budget shortfall was a result of federal stimulus money ending. While they knew this money was only a stopgap to fill the hole left by a reduction in state funding last year, Davis denies there was anything they could have done differently to avoid the current situation.
The teacher cuts amount to one for each of the school system’s 53 schools. The Union County Schools have about 4,450 employees, including 2,555 licensed positions (teachers and administrators) and 1,901 non-licensed (teacher assistants, secretaries, custodians and food services employees)
Davis has said that positions will be restored if state funding is greater than expected and during recent meetings parents have extracted a promise from lawmakers to look at the issue and see what can be done. Several parents have said that they moved to Union County specifically because of the high quality schools and are fearful that cuts will destroy the quality of their children’s education.
Davis did say that he did not expect any teachers to actually be laid off as the lost positions will mainly be accounted for by resignations and retirements, although the difference would be made up by not renewing interim teaching jobs that hire on a year to year basis.
Superintendent Ed Davis said the district made the best of a tough situation, and wanted to avoid raising class sizes to combat the deficit in the $350 million budget. Still, Davis acknowledged, “These are the cuts that hurt the worst.”