The Transylvania Times -

By Lenora Carver
Staff Writer" 

Schools Worry About ‘Worst-Case Scenario'


March 1, 2011

Jeff McDaris

Around 80 Transylvania County school employees could lose their jobs if the worst-case budget scenario pan outs, according to Superintendent Jeff McDaris.

McDaris laid out the scenario during a Board of Education meeting last week.

"I certainly hope this doesn't happen, but if it does, we would have to cut everything to the bone," he said.

McDaris said the cuts could occur if the state doesn't replace the funding the school system received through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), also known as the Stimulus.

McDaris said the cuts proposed in Gov. Perdue's recently released budget were not as bad as initially expected, but the state's final budget will mostly reflect what both houses in the General Assembly decide.

"We will have to stay closely tuned-in on where (Perdue's budget) fares," said McDaris.

"But it usually doesn't fare well when it gets to the General Assembly."

Cuts from the state will likely mean the school system turning to county commissioners for more funding, McDaris said.

"We're already very lean," he said. "We will have to make it up with local money. Just how much, we don't know right now."

In addition to budget cuts, McDaris said they also might see the elimination of end of grade and course testing.

"There is a Senate bill that was introduced to eliminate all end of course testing that were not part of the No Child Left Behind Act," said McDaris. "But there has to be some level of accountability that the students are learning."

McDaris said there are bills "flying all over the place," including eliminating the cap on charter schools.

North Carolina has had a maximum of 100 charter schools since the charter schools bill was approved in the mid 1990s.

McDaris said while he was not against removing the cap on charter schools bill, believing "competition is healthy," he did want a "level playing field."

Currently, money given to charter schools does not require the schools to spend any of it on providing lunches or transportation.

"They spend it where they want to," said McDaris. "I just want to make sure the funding formulas are adequate. If they choose to have more than one charter school to fund, they need to fund everyone adequately and not rob Peter to pay Paul."

Another proposed bill would give parents vouchers to send their child to a school other than the public school system.

McDaris said the majority of North Carolinians don't want vouchers and believe it will take money away from the public school system.

"We are in a very tough budget cycle, and Transylvania County has an expectation for educational excellence," he said.

McDaris said it was going to be hard to accomplish this on less money.

Board Chairman Chris Whitmire agreed the no-cap bill needed to be fair. He said he was also against vouchers.

Whitmire said the voucher system could lead to parents abusing it just to get the money. He urged the public to contact N.C. Rep. David Guice and N.C. Sen. Jim Davis about the bills.


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