GUILFORD COUNTY - Guilford County Schools students will have new technology, new programs and a new building for students this year but not the funding it said it had hoped for. The Guilford County Board of Education will vote Thursday night on this school year's budget.
District administrators discussed the budget at a back-to-school media briefing Wednesday. The chief financial officer for GCS said this has been a "challenging budget year," and reductions have had to be made in central office positions. The enrichment region has been eliminated. Budget reductions also have caused an increased class size, a reduced $5 million dollars in resources for instructional supplies and tutoring and a reduction in the teacher assistant calendar by seven days.
CFO Angie Henry reflected on what could happen, saying, "Because we did not receive the funding we requested for increased costs and other non-negotiables-such as insurance costs, increasing the number of students-we're once again doing more with less, and we're trying our best to minimize the impact on students."
But, Henry said, "Regardless of our financial situation, our focus is always on our students and our student learning. At this time, as of this morning, we have only 15 classroom vacancies out of about 5,000 teaching positions, and we hope to have those filled by the end of the week."
Henry said if the vacant positions are not filled, the classrooms will have certified substitutes. She said regardless of the budget challenges, GCS is looking forward to a "great" year.
GCS superintendent Maurice "Mo" Green said, "Our teachers and our staff members are being asked to do more with less, and we greatly appreciate their willingness to do so. I...am just so impressed with everyone's willingness to sort of still be excited about the start of the school year--even while we are having to deal with significant budget cuts."
Part of the excitement superintendent Green talked about involves the new tablets some students will receive. With GCS's revolutionary technology initiative, middle school students from 18 schools will get a tablet.
This year, GCS also will launch its new literacy program called Roadmap 2 Reading. In that program, GCS is asking all students to read 20 minutes a day. Under that program, teachers also no longer will be giving take-home spelling tests.