Morganton News-Herald, 7/13/15

The North Carolina Senate budget proposal for education plans to cut 8,500 teaching assistant jobs in the next two years. Burke County Public Schools has 158 teacher assistant assigned to variety of roles.

Many of the teacher assistants in the BCPS are used in the exceptional children department, computer labs, and in-school suspension department, as well as pre-kindergarten mobile buses, kindergarten, and pre-K rooms, said Cheryl Shuffler, BCPS public relations officer.

With the proposed budget, BCPS stands to lose $600,000 in state funding or 24 teacher assistant positions, said BCPS Financial Officer Keith Lawson. 

Teacher assistant layoffs would be imminent if another funding source, such as local funds, could not be secured to pick up the shortfall, Lawson said. 

“We hope our legislators see the value in public education and in the end make the right decision,” said Larry Putnam, BCPS superintendent. “The proposed cuts to teacher assistant positions in the state budget would have a negative impact on our school system."

Many N.C. teachers and teacher assistants went the General Assembly in Raleigh on June 30 to share their opinions about the proposed budget, says a press release from Aim Higher Now a non-profit organization.“For a group of people who work so hard and care so much, it is disheartening that year after year our profession is at the top of the list of proposed cuts as if what we do is not important,” Melinda Zarate of the NC Association of Teacher Assistants said in the release. “Cutting 8,500 teacher assistants means cutting income for 8,500 individuals and their families who depend on that money.”

Since the recession started teachers in the state have seen a decrease of 7,000 teacher assistant positions, said the release.The Senate plan also provides no raises for many veteran teachers; cuts 500 children from pre-kindergarten programs; and continues to under-fund textbooks, said the release.

“This would amount to the largest layoff in North Carolina history, surpassing the 2003 Pillowtex closing by several thousand jobs,” the release said.