Teachers, TAs thank board

Teachers in Catawba County gathered Monday night to thank board members for trying to save their jobs in the 2011-12 school year, despite the possibility of cutting performance-based supplements.
Catawba County Schools Board of Education held its public hearing for the 2011-12 local budget during a special meeting Monday. About two dozen teachers and teacher assistants were in attendance, but surprisingly, only two people stood before the board members to comment.
“Thanks for maintaining teacher assistant and teacher positions,” said Julia LaRochelle, a third-grade teacher at Snow Creek Elementary School and president of Catawba County’s North Carolina Association of Educators chapter. “We appreciate, so much, your efforts.”
In order to hold on to teacher and teacher assistant positions, CCS interim superintendent Glenn Barger recommended the board cut performance-based supplements from next year’s local budget. That portion was $540,245 of a $1.2 million or 5 percent local budget reduction.
Later in the meeting, Paula Canipe, a teacher assistant with exceptional children at Bunker Hill High School, spoke on behalf of all teacher assistants present at the meeting to ask board members to hold on to their jobs.
“We are very concerned about the kids in Catawba County,” said Canipe, as she acknowledged about 10 school system teacher assistants present at Monday’s meeting. “(Teacher assistants) do play an important role in (students’) lives.”
Canipe pointed out how teacher assistants have more hands-on involvement with children that in the past by being tutors, nurses and sometimes substitute mothers.
“We hope you can find some way to keep us in (the classroom),” she said. “We do help (students) prepare for their future. We feel that if (Catawba County) suffers any more cuts in the classroom, kids will fall behind. We ask you not to keep (our positions) for ourselves, but for the children.”
Board chairwoman Joyce Spencer thanked all employees in attendance at Monday’s budget public hearing. Spencer added that about 80 percent of CCS’ budget goes to personnel salaries.
Barger expressed to teachers and teacher assistants that cuts in the classroom are last on the list of potential removals.
“Our commitment is to preserve the integrity of the classroom,” Barger said.
The local budget will come before board members for approval during its 5:30 p.m. Feb. 28 meeting in the Annex boardroom. A complete copy of the local budget may be obtained by request at the CCS central office or by visiting www.catawbaschools.net.
If it’s approved, the local budget will go to Catawba County manager Tom Lundy, so he can create his budget for county commissioners. Catawba County Board of Commissioners must pass its budget by June 3, according to Barger.
All meetings are open to the public.
State and federal money for CCS will be determined at a later date.

Other business:
The faculty at Murray Elementary School will host a groundbreaking ceremony at 3 p.m. Feb. 14 at the school in honor of their upcoming construction project.