Ask the Superintendent: What cuts may mean for DPS

Apr. 08, 2013 @ 03:50 PM

Durham Community, I am pleased to have the opportunity to add to your understanding of our school district and the programs and services offered in DPS through your questions and my responses. I look forward to our communication in this space.
Q: I saw that Governor McCory has presented his budget proposal to the General Assembly. Has he suggested any cuts to education funding, and if so, how will that affect Durham Public Schools?
A: Durham Public Schools is funded by a combination of state, local and federal sources. State funding is the “baseline” support for all North Carolina schools. Much of it is formula driven: how many students are enrolled, how many miles buses must drive, and so on. The governor submitted a budget proposal to the General Assembly on March 2 that would cut funding for teaching assistants statewide. In Durham Public Schools, our funding would be reduced by about $2.4 million, or about 80 teacher assistant positions.
This would put our students and schools in a difficult position. We are implementing a more rigorous curriculum based on the Common Core and Essential Standards that will better prepare our children for the future, and we are aggressively targeting early literacy in the same grades that would be impacted. Teacher assistants partner with teachers to support the classroom by conducting small group instruction or engaging the larger group while teachers provide individual attention or conduct assessments.
We are making every effort to protect our schools from the impact of potential state budget cuts. Local funds, which primarily come from revenues allocated by the County Commissioners, give us greater flexibility, but the last few years of declining state funding have stretched local dollars further. We are currently reviewing our budget looking for other potential cuts that could help us retain the 80 teacher assistant positions.
If you would like to learn more about the DPS budget or would like to leave feedback, we have information about it on our website at www.dpsnc.net/budget. I will present a Priority-Driven Budget to the DPS Board of Education on Thursday, April 25. The school board will hold a public hearing and work session on the budget, and then they are scheduled to adopt a budget request on May 13. This will include a request for local funding by the county commissioners and the most up-to-date information available about the state budget.
Q: What does this mean about teaching positions with DPS? How do I apply?
A: Even with potential budget cuts, Durham Public Schools is always looking for highly qualified teacher candidates. We must attract, retain, motivate and develop talented employees to serve our students and schools.
We especially need highly qualified teacher candidates certified in science and math in middle school and high school, and Special Education (Exceptional Children) – especially with dual certification for Grades 6-8 and 9-12.
We will hold a job fair on Saturday, April 27 at 1 p.m. at Hillside High School. If you are interested in attending the fair, please go to www.dpsnc.net/jobs for more information and to register for the fair.
Searches for all DPS positions are done through the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction website. You can access links to the listings of positions specific to Durham Public Schools in the classification you seek also at www.dpsnc.net/jobs.
Our 33,000 students are the most compelling reason to work in DPS. They are exceptionally diverse, with more than 50 native languages spoken, and their achievement levels range from those who need a strong teacher’s help to meet state proficiency standards, to those who are performing well above grade level and are challenged by our AIG, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Programs.
We seek strong teachers from all kinds of backgrounds, from new graduates with education degrees to Teach for America participants to longtime teaching veterans. We believe in our students, and our community believes in our teachers. For all of our state’s budgetary challenges, Durham Public Schools remains an excellent place to teach. We’re proud of our current teachers, and welcome new teachers to the fold.
Dr. Eric J. Becoats is superintendent of Durham Public Schools. He answers readers’ questions in his column the second Tuesday of each month. Submit your questions to superintendent@dpsnc.net.