After Tuesday’s Wake County Board of Education meeting, the district’s teacher assistants will work fewer hours and receive less pay.
The motion approved by the board shifts teacher assistants from 10-month to 9.25-month contracts and would result in about a 7.5 percent salary reduction.
The move, caused by state budget cuts, follows a similar reduction in assistant principal contracts and the laying off of 46 central services positions and one clerical position in each school.
Pay rate will remain the same for teacher assistants. The district will save $2.4 million with the reductions in hours.
Both the district’s chief financial officer and Superintendent Tony Tata emphasized that teacher assistants would remain in classrooms whenever students were.
The reduction in hours will remain in force for one year, at which time they will revisit the issue with the hope of reinstating the 10-month contracts.
No board members or residents seemed happy with the decision forced upon them.
“This one makes me shake my head because I’m so uncomfortable doing this to our teaching assistants, who are underpaid and undervalued but such phenomenal assets to the county,” said Board Member Debra Goldman.
“We didn’t fulfill our responsibility when we did not ask for the same funding per student that we had in the past,” said Anne McLaurin, the only board member to vote against the motion.
McLaurin introduced a motion in a prior board meeting to ask Wake County to increase its schools appropriation to maintain per-pupil spending at last year’s level.
During the public comment period, a community member also questioned the change.
“If the lowest paid professional group in the district takes a pay cut, should not the administration, the highest paid groupalso take a pay cut?” asked Vicki Adamson. “Should not you as a board also take a cut in your stipend?”