GOLDSBORO — A budget crisis has prompted Wayne County educators to call on county commissioners and a General Assembly delegation to help secure funding for the safety of students, faculties and staff.
The plea occurred after the Wayne County Board of Education proposed significant cuts to cover a $5 million shortfall for its 2020-21 budget. The board met again last week and elected not to take any action on the proposal.
A work session suggested that Wayne County Public Schools may need to eliminate between 30 and 50 certified positions, assistant principal posts and classified staff that includes janitors, cafeteria workers and bus drivers.
“[Last week] makes clear that the school board wants to work towards a solution that supports all of us,” said Scott Littleton, president of the Wayne County Association of Educators. “While some cuts may be handled through attrition and transfers, it is our hope that no one will have to lose their job, especially in these uncertain times.”
WCPS officials said a decrease in average daily membership has led to a decrease in funding.
Insurance and retirement costs have increased.
The General Assembly mandated reduced class sizes for K-3 teachers. However, student-teacher ratios in higher grades have exploded recently despite the school system’s effort to keep those numbers lower. Some classes could have 30 or more students, which could compromise required social-distancing measures currently in place.
The funding allotment has not changed, which affects enhancement classes like art, foundational math and AP courses.
Littleton hopes the Wayne County Commissioners will assist the Board of Education in acquiring funding to negate the shortfall.
“We call on the members of the North Carolina General Assembly to work together and fully fund our public schools so school systems can avoid crises like these,” Littleton said. “This is not the time to sit idly by and wait. There is too much at stake, not only our livelihoods, but the lives and well-being of us all.”