Art, music, PE jobs in schools’

Published 9:07 am Thursday, May 18, 2017

Six school system employees will likely lose their jobs due to a reduction in the state allotment, but, for now, art, physical education, and music teaching positions are safe.

Earlier this year, Superintendent Dr. Darrin Hartness told the school board about a proposed House Bill that would considerably limit class sizes in kindergarten through third grade. The bill would have meant districts would need to hire additional teachers, but without additional state funding, districts would have likely been forced to make cuts to staff in non-core areas.

Hartness and other superintendents voiced their concerns, and lawmakers listened, passing a compromise to the legislation that will decrease class size by only one student and delay more restrictive requirements to the 2018-19 school year.

“Now that the class size requirements … have been delayed … we will not have to consider cuts to enhancement teacher positions or the increase in class size in grades four through 12 in 2017-18,” Hartness said.

The news came at a good time, just as a “place maker” budget was being prepared. The state mandates a draft budget be in place by May 1 each year, and board members unanimously passed it at their May 9 meeting.

State and federal funds make up about 75 percent of the schools’ budget, and because their budgets are not yet in place, Hartness said it makes it difficult to create a draft budget. As allotments are determined, the budget will be adjusted.

Salary increases from the state are expected in the upcoming school year, which Hartness said would help increase the state’s ranking in teacher pay, as well as principal pay, which is at 50 out of 51 (including the District of Columbia).

It is also expected increases to retirement and the employer portion of health care will occur, but with a decrease in enrollment and resulting state allotment, Hartness said the system would be “looking at the reduction of approximately six additional positions.” Fifteen positions were reduced in 2016-17 to balance the budget. Hartness said without the support of county commissioners, there would likely be more reductions in staff.

“We are thankful our current commissioners have increased local support for public education,” he said. The local current expense allocation for 2017-18, based on the 2016 Interlocal Agreement, will be over $10.9 million.

Hartness also cited support from the Davie Community Foundation and the Mebane Charitable Foundation, both of which have provided in numerous ways, including a recently announced commitment by the Mebane Charitable Foundation to fund early literacy initiatives over the next five years.

The draft budget may be viewed under the Meetings tab of the Board of Education, located on the schools’ website,