McCrory plan could cut 80 teaching assistants from Durham schools

Mar. 28, 2013 @ 09:21 PM

The budget proposal put forth by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory would cut funding for teaching assistants in Durham Public Schools by about $2.4 million.

That would mean axing 80 TAs from DPS classrooms, Superintendent Eric Becoats told the Board of Education Thursday night.

“That’s not what Durham does,” he said.

Becoats told the board that he’s committed to making sure that DPS can at least maintain current levels of service in next year’s budget and that the administration will start looking for replacement funds.

He’s also sending a letter to the General Assembly, stressing the importance of TAs in Durham’s classrooms.

On April 25, Becoats is expected to present the DPS budget to the N.C. Board of Education.

Later, as the Durham board discussed plans to spend about $214,000 on a new Summer Bridge kindergarten preparation program, concerns about the state-level budget situation arose again.

Board member Natalie Beyer wondered whether it was wise to kick off new initiatives without knowing for sure that they can be funded long-term, especially “when even the TAs we have right now are threatened.”

“My gut tells me the General Assembly’s budget will be less generous than the governor’s,” Beyer said. “That’s the reality that haunts me a bit right now.”

Board member Leigh Bordley shared that concern, but said that she might prefer to shift money already allocated for similar bridge programs for sixth and ninth graders to the kindergarten program.

In other action, the board approved LaTonya S. Smith as the new principal for Brogden Middle School. She starts in June.

Smith, currently assistant principal at Neal Middle School, also worked as a social studies teacher at Carrington and Rogers-Herr middle schools. She earned a bachelor’s degree in African-American studies and a master’s in school administration from UNC Chapel Hill.

“In second grade, I knew I’d be a teacher,” Smith said during Thursday’s meeting. “By fifth grade, I knew I’d be principal.”

She said she’s excited to move Brogden forward and to create memorable experiences for students.

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