Ellis: freeze may cut TAs

Apr. 15, 2013 @ 11:57 AM

While still missing information, the 2013-2014 Union County Public Schools budget is becoming less abstract.

Superintendent Mary Ellis said Tuesday night her proposed budget was a “best effort attempt” to not fall backward. There is no new programming and no bells and whistles, she added.

Ellis told the board during her superintendent’s report that she has instructed staff to freeze all teacher assistant positions. There is a 35 to 40 person attrition rate among the assistants, she added. 

Ellis said she is unsure about where the budget will go. With regard to cutting teachers, “I just can’t go there yet,” she said. 

In his budget proposal, Gov. Pat McCrory proposed to hire more teachers rather than teacher assistants.

The school board already presented their capital proposal, which totaled about $8.4 million, to the Union County Board of Commissioners.

Last night they reviewed and unanimously approved the proposed county appropriation increase, contingent upon a legal review from staff. The school system will fulfill their promise of giving their proposal to county staff a month early. 

The 2013-2014 proposed county appropriation is about $86.2 million, compared to the 2012-2013 appropriation of about $81.5 million. 

Some of the increases include state-mandated raises and benefits, asbestos removal, maintenance utility increases, direct mental health services for high-priority schools, seven school resource officers for middle schools, Common Core exams and materials, an estimated increase in charter school payments and other expenses. 

Chief Financial Officer Dan Karpinski said he does not expect additional money from the state. The amount of federal funding is still uncertain due to the sequestration. 

This year’s discretionary cut, the money school systems must return to the state government, has increased by $414,435, bringing the total about $10.2 million.

There is a possibility that the county could handle the school resource officers, Board member Mike Guzman said. However, they do not have a formal agreement at this time, so the expense was put into the budget.