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ABSS makes tough decisions to provide raises for teachers and coaches, ending programs and positions

This comes as Gov. Cooper says public education is under a state of emergency, citing teacher shortages, lack of funding, and "political culture" wars.

ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. — A major money issue in North Carolina's public schools Governor Roy Cooper is calling a crisis. 

"It's time to declare a state of emergency for public education in North Carolina there's no executive order like with a hurricane or the pandemic but it's no less important," Governor Cooper said. 

Cooper said state lawmakers aren't investing in public education.

On the flip side, Senator Phil Berger's spokesperson said in a statement: 

Meaningless publicity stunts do nothing to improve educational outcomes in our state. The House and Senate will continue working together to put forward budget proposals that address the needs of students and parents."

Meantime, local school boards are trying to fill in the gaps.

Monday, the Alamance-Burlington school board voted to consolidate dozens of jobs to move $2.8 million elsewhere.

The district's superintendent Dr. Dain Butler said he made the recommendation in order to offer competitive wages to teachers. 

To pay for it, he wants to eliminate positions where some staff has retired and end some programs.  

This frees up money that will go to coaching pay and will allow the district to spend $514,965 to hire athletic trainers at all high schools. 

It will also increase teacher supplements by $1.3 million. 

That means teachers would get an average of $500 more a year.

Sabra Harrelson is one of more than 80 teachers who retired from ABSS Monday. 

After teaching for 32 years she said the stress was too much and hopes the raises will boost morale for other educators. 

 "We need better pay to get the best-qualified teachers we lose a lot of teachers to Guilford County and other counties that pay more supplements," Harrelson said. "Help us retain the teachers we have." 

The district currently has 80 teacher openings.  

 In order to pay current teachers more it'll cost the district positions in other areas. 

 "So human resources, operations, curriculum people who work in central offices who are retiring or we're consolidating those positions to make up that 2.8 million," said Les Atkins the district's public information officer. 

$2 million of that comes from a reduction of 32 teaching positions from the elementary and high school levels. 

The district said the goal is to move those teachers to other schools that have greater needs. They said the consolidation would set the district up to have about 25 students per teacher, which aligns with the state's allotment.

An Eastern Alamance high school teacher spoke out at the meeting and said this could negatively impact students and has her worried.

"Math classrooms are small at my school to get students through math. Our school is up in arms about this 25 when we've worked so hard over the years to get classes smaller to help them get through them," the teacher said. "he cap is only realistic when kids are on grade level. We have so many classes that don't fit that bill." 

To be clear, the school district said it's not getting rid of any teachers.

click here for a full breakdown of the next school year's budget reductions and eliminations. 

This change goes into effect on July 1. 


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