MEDIA RELEASE: NC Public Schools Shed Thousands of Jobs Over Last 4 Years

MEDIA RELEASE: NC Public Schools Shed Thousands of Jobs Over Last 4 Years
Recession-era cuts played active role in elimination of teacher, teacher assistant positions

RALEIGH (Sept. 14, 2011) – North Carolina Public Schools have eliminated 16,678 teachers, teacher assistant and other educator positions over the past four years, a new report finds. Recession-era budget cuts at the state and local levels have played an active role in the elimination of public school jobs across the state.

The loss amounts to nearly one in 10 positions in public schools across the state, compared to staffing levels in 2008, according to a report released this morning by the North Carolina Budget & Tax Center. Recent data from North Carolina's Department of Public Instruction showed that eight of the state's 115 school districts eliminated more than one in five positions compared to 2008. Losses were highly concentrated in the eastern, western, and south-central parts of the state, the report finds.

Cuts will continue in 2012, with more than $250 million in temporary federal aid expected to support between 4,000 and 5,000 local jobs – through September 2012 only. In addition, local districts must return an additional $74 million to the state to satisfy an increase in discretionary budget cuts on top of an already bare-bones budget, the report states.

"The cumulative impact of four years of job losses is to hold back the recovery in local communities across the state while also impairing the ability of North Carolina’s schools to provide the state’s children with the high-quality education necessary to compete and succeed as adults in the long term," said Edwin McLenaghan, a policy analyst with the BTC and author of the report.

Compared to other states, North Carolina had less room to cut personnel and expenditures from pre-recession levels, the report says, with the state falling far below the national average in terms of state and local spending. In 2007-08, North Carolina ranked 45th nationally in state and local per-pupil spending on public schools, and 49th in per-pupil spending on general administration.

However, by raising revenue and ensuring state funding for districts with insufficient resources, policymakers could help ensure that the state's public schools have the necessary resources to sustain and build on the state's hard-earned progress, the report states. Effective, high-quality public schools will be essential to build a strong economic future for North Carolina.

"Such a dismal future for North Carolina is not inevitable," McLenaghan said. "But without the resources necessary to ensure that children receive sufficient attention and support from skilled educators, more and more of North Carolina’s children will fall behind, resulting in fewer high school graduates and fewer young adults earning a college degree."

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Edwin McLenaghan, Policy Analyst, Budget & Tax Center, edwin@ncjustice.org, 919.856.3192; Jeff Shaw, director of communications, NC Justice Center, jeff@ncjustice.org, 503.551.3615 (mobile).

The N.C. Budget and Tax Center--a project of the N.C. Justice Center-- seeks to create economic opportunity and shared prosperity for all North Carolinians through non-partisan research, education and advocacy on budget, tax and economic issues.