Education
11:00 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Proposed Cuts Concern Triad Schools

Kindergarten teacher Yen Gates is leading her class in a lesson on building sentences. In a small corner of her class, Anthony Freeman is using a board game to teach phonics to a small group of three students.

Anthony Freeman, a teacher assistant at E.P. Elementary School in Greensboro, helps students with an exercise in phonics on Tuesday, June 3, 2014.
Anthony Freeman, a teacher assistant at E.P. Elementary School in Greensboro, helps students with an exercise in phonics on Tuesday, June 3, 2014.
Credit WFDD photo by Paul Garber

This is the second year that Freeman has been a teaching assistant at Guilford County’s E.P. Pearce Elementary School. He says he loves watching the progress students make throughout the year, but he knows his job is on the chopping block.

Proposed state budget cuts could reduce the number of  teacher assistant positions across the state by more than 7,000. Freeman says the cuts would mean a hardship for students who are having trouble keeping up with the rest of the class.

Last year, Pearce Elementary had the highest 3rd-grade end-of-grade scores in reading and math in the district. Erik Naglee, the school’s principal, says the school’s use of teacher assistants and tutors help struggling students improve their scores and help reduce class size for teachers. So he’s worried that those positions may be cut as a result of budget reductions.

Three years ago, the school had eight accredited tutors, but that number is now down to four. Those four tutors help an average of 30 to 40 students every school day.  According to Naglee, the school’s budget has been cut by $30,000 over the last three years. Naglee says the reductions at the state level have made the teachers at his school feel undervalued.

Meanwhile, school administrators in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County schools are also worried about potential budget cuts that could reduce the system’s budget by $10 million. Among other things, the cuts would reduce money for teachers and teacher assistants. That could mean cutting about 28 teacher and 278 teacher assistant positions.