State cuts expected to hurt Guilford County Schools

State+cuts+expected+to+hurt+Guilford+County+Schools

Courtesy of Gcsnc.com

Guilford College students and faculty know as well as anyone the harsh realities of budget cuts, and now it seems local high schools are facing a similar problem.

Over the past few weeks, preliminary budget announcements by Guilford County Schools have caused discontent over the possibility of continued cuts. Far from a onetime occurrence, this year’s cuts reflect a startling trend of state-mandated cuts to a school system in need of capital.

In response, the school system has turned to the county for extra funds.

“In the past we have focused on cuts, and significant cuts, to compensate for budget shortfalls,” said Guilford County Schools Superintendent Maurice “Mo” Green in an announcement on GCSNC.com. “Now that we are moving out of the Great Recession, it is time to make up for those cuts and start to adequately fund our children’s education.”

Though many blame the school system for the cuts Green mentioned, cuts beyond the system’s control have put them in a difficult position.

In a presentation to the Guilford County School Board, Green revealed that the state had cut the school budget by almost $1.8 million, down from $7.4 million last year. Targeting teachers’ assistants and driver’s education, the cuts forced the school system to look elsewhere for funds.

“(Green) calls for $205.3 million from (Guilford County), up from $179.4 million provided for this year,” reads GCSNC’s web page. “The majority of that money would go to restoring cuts to schools.”

Though the allocated amount would certainly lighten the load, hopes for the grant are not high.

Since 2008, the county has shifted its focus from county schools to charter schools. Though the total given to schools by the county has slowly grown, not all of the schools have reaped the same benefit.

“The State allocates money based on the number of students in your building,” said Caryl Schunk, chair and assistant professor of education studies. “If you have fewer students, your building receives less money for your faculty and staff, as well as for supplies.”

With failing state funds and a variety of issues preventing particular schools from receiving the funds they need, cuts are still likely, and community members have begun to think about where the cuts would do the least harm.

“The school I go to, the Early College at Guilford, is a huge GCS-funded program for a very small group of students,” said Early College junior Harris Billings. “Though I know this experience has been invaluable to advanced students like us, I do not know if programs for the benefit of the top students outweigh the importance of programs that help students struggling to keep up.”

Green and the board also realize that cuts have to happen, and in response, they are trying to do what they can to keep programs running.

Green announced on the GCSNC website that his first priority is to save teachers, though they cannot save them all, a sentiment which agrees with the community’s values.

“I think cutting electives is better than cutting teachers,” said Early College junior Katherine Quinn in an email interview. “Programs providing kids from lower class families with school supplies should also be kept because they are always neglected.”

The board cannot finalize the school budget until the county releases their budget on June 1, but, until then, the Guilford county community waits with nervous anticipation.

In Guilford County, a continuation of harmful cuts casts doubt on the effectiveness of the current educational system. Change has to happen if local schools want to continue to operate, but, for now, all residents can do is hope the changes do not hurt too much.