GREENSBORO, N.C. - Guilford County approves its budget. But before commissioners voted, teachers pleaded for them to approve what the school board asked for, and fully fund the Guilford County Schools request.
Guilford County Schools (GCS) said it needed an extra $10 million to pay for things like teachers' salaries and day-to-day operations. The exact dollar amount they requested was $10.2 million more than last year.
Thursday night, commissioners made a unanimous decision. GCS will get $7.5 million more, a big improvement than what the county wanted to give in the beginning of negotiations. Initially, the county considered giving $5.5 million. County commission chairman Jeff Phillips said education makes up a huge chunk of the county's yearly budget.
“Education in general represents about 50% of our just over $600 million budget. That's combined Guilford County schools and GTCC primarily,” he said.
Several teachers showed up at the budget meeting to try to sway commissioners, to get as much money as possible. One teacher, and incoming president of the Guilford County Association for Educators explained why it's so important.
“We’re constantly being asked to do more, with less. We're having more positions go on field, never being filled again. Even though we are teaching ever more numbers of children every year,” said Todd Warren.
Even if GCS got the $10 million more they asked for, they still need to make cuts. High School Ahead Academy shut down, and about 140 jobs will be eliminated. The school says the jobs aren't exactly cut. Instead, it will reposition existing employees into vacant positions.
Teachers say they feel the lack of resources daily.
“My class sizes are huge. There are over 30, 35, 36 kids. We don't even fit in the computer lab. There so many kids in my class, and I struggle to meet their needs, and it keeps me up at night and it hurts, it hurts me that I can't meet their needs,” said one teacher who got up to speak at the commission meeting.
In all, GCS will get about $195 million in the next fiscal year.