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The Daily Tar Heel

Orange County Schools discuss budget

Several district positions at risk

The combined effects of a $7.7 million funding deficit and even further reductions mandated by the state could force Orange County Schools to cut teacher, assistant teacher and assistant principal positions within the district.

The Orange County Schools Board of Education met Friday to discuss the budget cuts and how the district might deal with them.

District Director of Finance Donna Brinkley gave members of the school board an overview of the state, local and federal budget situation.

Brinkley said the governor recently asked state agencies to identify budget cuts at the five percent and ten percent levels.

About six teaching positions are at stake if the five percent reduction is put in place. Eight to 10 teaching assistant positions are also on the line, Brinkley said.

The reductions could lead to the elimination of an assistant principal position as well, Superintendent Patrick Rhodes said.

Along with cuts in the classroom, the board members said they may also be looking at decreases in funding for the central administration and technology in schools.

“So we’re cutting teachers and cutting administration, but one way to deal with cutting classroom services is to use technology more,” said board member Anne Medenblik. “But my impression is that’s being cut along with everything else. There has to be a safety release somewhere.”

Brinkley said capital appropriations decreased by about $963,000 with a reduction in lottery distributions and money transferred out of the operating budget.

She said the multimillion-dollar funding deficit the district is expected to see is the result of a reduction in state funds, federal funds, discretionary funds and state textbook funds.
The projection is an overall reduction of 18 percent in funding.

Board member Debbie Piscitelli said there is a lot of public support for leaving the classroom alone and making cuts from the central offices despite the fact that teachers need this support from outside the classroom.

“I just want the community to know that people are working long hours,” she said.

The board made no final decisions regarding the budget situation but will be discussing it in further sessions and meetings.

“As the legislative committee comes together, we need to be aware of the worst-case scenarios,” said board vice chairwoman Donna Coffey.

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