Macon County Schools got a little extra to fix up their buildings when some bids for the Parker Meadows recreational complex came in low. All of the extra money went to education, with $39,400 going to Southwestern Community College and $100,000 to MCS’ capital outlay fund.
Advocates calling for increased state education funding made a stop in Haywood County Monday as part of a statewide tour en route to Raleigh, where they will deliver a stack of petitions signed by 61,000 state residents later this week.
Sen. Jim Davis, R-Franklin, faced a group of 50 Macon County teachers and staff last Tuesday in the library of South Macon Elementary School, and it was not a happy crowd.
At the front of the room, banjos and fiddles plow through an Appalachian repertoire. Fingers dance across strings, conjuring the history and tradition that have seeped out of the region’s hills for generations.
“Trying to get’em to play together on the same beat at the beginning is kind of like herding cats,” laughed instructor Robby Robertson. “But by the end they get it together.”
Across the audience, parents capture the moment with cell phone cameras. The young musicians focus on their instruments and ready themselves for another song.
As this year’s budget talks kicked off, Macon County Schools presented its petition for a $500,000 funding increase to pay for teacher raises and insurance increases, but County Manager Derek Roland’s proposed budget doesn’t include any of those extra dollars. He’s asking commissioners to fund the school system at $7.3 million, the same amount as last year.
Haywood County Schools may have a tough choice to make in coming weeks: add additional teachers or give existing teachers a half-percent raise?
The Haywood School Board hoped to do both in the coming year, but likely won’t have enough money to make both a reality.
Haywood County Schools will see a slight budget increase from county commissioners next year, although it will fall far short of what school officials asked for.
The school system will get an extra $280,000 from the county — about a quarter of the $1.1 million increase the school system would have liked. But school officials were quick to give county commissioners an ‘A’ for effort.
Local school leaders and educators are celebrating last week’s court ruling declaring a 2013 law that doles out a small raise for 25 percent of the state’s teachers — no more and no less — unconstitutional.
School vouchers are back on the table for the 2014-15 school year following a ruling in the North Carolina Supreme Court last week. In March, N.C. Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood issued a preliminary injunction against the Opportunity Scholarship Program, preventing the voucher program from going into effect until the court could hear the case and issue a final ruling.
North Carolina legislators have returned to Raleigh for the General Assembly’s short session. In the weeks ahead, lawmakers will wrestle with Medicaid, coal ash and a $445 million budget shortfall.