Over the past few years, we’ve watched as cuts to education funding at the state and local levels directly affected our children’s schools. Ask any parent about the cuts and you’ll probably get a different answer; fewer support staff, fewer resources for academic materials, and many other substantial impacts. Despite these cuts, our faculty and staff have maintained the quality of education that attracted many of us to this School District. After all, several Union County schools consistently rank as top schools in North Carolina. Much of the credit for that honor goes to our talented and dedicated pool of teachers.
Some recent decisions will negatively impact our teachers. These include frozen pay rates for over four years, increased benefits costs, and reductions in salary supplements for National Board Certification and Master’s Degrees. In addition, a change to the pay schedule will result in teachers receiving a significantly reduced paycheck in August 2012; this doubly affects families where both spouses are teachers.
You will notice 185 school days on the 2012/13 calendar; Unless this is changed, Union County Public Schools must fund operating costs for the additional five mandated days. Since the school year remained fixed (August 25 to June 10), these days were taken from winter break and “work days.” Teachers use “work days” for curriculum planning and parent conferences; next year, this work must be done after work hours. In addition, with no work days scheduled for the second half of the year, there are no make-up snow days.
Parents can involve their children in writing letters to State Assembly members as a character education lesson, as well as a hands-on civics project. This will let our teachers know we see how valuable they really are. Union County is represented by House Members Justin Burr, D. Craig Horn, and Frank McGuirt, and State Senator Tommy Tucker. Parents can write to them at North Carolina General Assembly, 16 West Jones Street, Raleigh, NC 27601.
Debra Horten, Executive Director of NC PTA, encourages advocacy thus: “Someone once described PTA as a sleeping giant that once stirred could make a tremendously positive impact for our children….quoting U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, ‘If it takes a village, the village needs to wake up’.”
Valerie Secker, Beth Warren, Missy Hardy, Stacey Thomson, and Lori Maple
Sandy Ridge Elementary School Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Executive Board