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Teacher Assistants Hours Cut

By Beth Cassidy
Enterprise Record

Teacher assistants found out last week they will be able to keep their jobs, but their hours will be cut.
To address a nearly half million dollar reduction in state funding for teacher assistants, the Davie school board was faced with two options: elimination of 18 eight-hour-a-day positions or 24 six-hour-a-day positions; or reducing the number of days worked for all 174 assistants from 215 to 207 days, and for the 112 who work more than six hours a day, hours will be kept to only six.
Vacancies will not be filled, and some assistants may be moved to other schools based on enrollment needs.
Superintendent Dr. Darrin Hartness told the board while neither option was desirable, after meeting with principals and a teacher assistant representative from each school, the preferred option allows all assistants to keep their jobs and for those working six hours a day, to keep benefits.
“We have been forced by the legislature to make these reductions. Our primary responsibility is the education of our children. The principals have made it clear the more teachers’ assistants we have with our children, the better we can do our jobs,” Hartness said, adding it is important to keep assistants in the classroom during instructional hours.
He later told the board while the state had cut $120 million in teacher assistant funding, they voted to set aside $250 million in a rainy day fund.
Steve Ridenhour said he hadn’t slept well the night before after learning about the two options at a meeting Monday, before the Tuesday board meeting.
“This will hurt people. Most of you realize my position on this new high school. I think it’s a mistake to move forward with this bond. The timing is not right. I will vote for option two, and maybe it’s not the best situation but we can renovate this high school and we can have some flexibility in our local funding if we maybe can replace some of this stuff.”
Barbara Owens said facility money and employment money are “separate pots. You cannot put them together.”
Ridenhour said he knew that but said both pots “come out of one faucet. If you roll all your eggs and put them in one basket, you’ll hurt people.”
Wendy Horne said the …