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Without State Budget, School Districts Face Uncertainty

Source: ABC 11

As back to school season is in full swing, many school districts are having to navigate without a budget, impacting school staff and educators across the state.

Earlier this month, state Democrats along with school officials held events highlighting the challenges of getting prepared for the new school year and calling on Republican leaders to pass a state budget.

“We are still filling key school positions: teachers, bus drivers, other school staff. And, these delays impair our process,” Chris Heagarty, vice chair of the Wake County Board of Education, told CBS 17. “But, right now, we can’t even tell our staff and our hires what they might be making next month with any certainty.”

State Republicans dragging their feet on passing a new state budget means schools can’t tell current or prospective employees how much money they’ll be making next month. As a result, school districts are having a hard time hiring and retaining employees while schools are already dealing with shortages.

“We do not know what teachers will be paid. We do not know what bus drivers will be paid. We do not know what other important key members of our staff will be paid. And, in today’s labor market, people aren’t gonna wait around to see what they might be paid,” Heagarty added.

In the Wake County Public Schools System alone, 17 school bus routes are without a permanent driver; impacting more than 2,000 students, according to CBS 17.

“This General Assembly has continued now a dozen years of disinvestment in our public education system, whether it’s through vouchers, whether it’s through failing to invest in our capital needs or whether its failure to invest in our most important infrastructure in our schools, which is our people,” stated Sen. Mike Woodard, during a press conference earlier this month.

On top of ignoring calls from educators, Democrats, and advocates to pass a state budget, state Republicans pushed through controversial bills that would censor educators and target LGBTQ students.

State Republicans are also prioritizing measures that would divert millions away from public schools into unregulated private schools.

“This plan is clear: Starve public schools of what they need to succeed and then criticize them for their shortcomings,” Rep. Julie von Haefen stated during a press conference. “Erode trust by stoking fear and divisions, creating rifts between parents and teachers.”

Read more at ABC 11.

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