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Parent Advocacy: We Need You Again!

We had an awesome presence at our Marvin Ridge Town Hall Cluster meeting on March 15th with state legislators. We need your presence for 2 more meetings with local officials in April and we need you to email state and local officials with your concerns about budgeting for education. The PTAs, PTOs, parents and teachers of all 53 Union County Public Schools are uniting as advocates for all of our schools. Please plan to be a part of this very important and unprecedented effort to protect our schools and prioritize education funding in our county. 

What can you do to support your school?
• Wear GREEN to support funding as one united group of concerned citizens and attend the Tuesday, April 3rd UCPS Board of Education meeting at 7pm at Antioch Elementary, 3101 Antioch Church Road, Weddington. Dr. Davis will present the 2012/2013 UCPS budget at this meeting.
• Also, wear GREEN and attend the Monday, April 16th County Commissioners meeting at 7pm at the Union County Government Center, 500 North Main Street, Monroe. Our County Commissioners will be voting on the local budget in May. Right now, education is not listed as one of the top 5 priorities by our commissioners.
• All individuals are able to sign up and speak for 3 minutes at the Commissioners’ meeting. Please contact Beth Warren, on the Sandy Ridge PTA, at srescommittees@gmail.com if you are interested in speaking so we know how many speakers to expect. Anyone can speak and it can be as simple as, “I’m here to support the funding of our schools; that is how I want my tax dollars spent.”

By now you should know that out of 115 school districts in North Carolina, UCPS ranks #5 in graduation rate and yet we are 9th from the bottom in per pupil funding. Only 8 school districts in NC spend less per student than UCPS does. UCPS continues to perform at a high level of excellence and yet UCPS funding continues to be cut. This is counter-intuitive. UCPS has demonstrated excellent performance and has proven it is a highly worthwhile investment. Unfortunately, the state invests in underperforming school districts, thus rewarding them with funding while penalizing high performing districts with consecutive budget cuts.

The UCPS budget is projected to be cut by an additional $9.9 million dollars next year. For the past 3 years, we have realized a 9.7% cut in state funding, yet we have added 1,346 students. Cutting an additional $9.9 million from our budget is the equivalent of eliminating 177 teacher positions or 97 teaching positions and 150 teacher assistant positions. Neither of these is acceptable.

The $9.9 million potential reduction is from the following: (1) an additional state discretionary reduction of $2.0 million. This reduction is on top of the $11.5 million in previous state reductions that will continue in 2012-2013. (2) $300,000 needed to fund transportation for the 5 additional school days added to the calendar by the NC Legislature. (3) Loss of $7.6 million in Federal EduJobs funding.

Our teachers are going on 4 years of frozen salaries. North Carolina teachers are paid 41st worst in the nation. We cannot afford to let this continue. While teacher salaries are frozen, their healthcare costs and cost of living continues to increase. Our teachers have the most important job of educating the future and deserve adequate compensation.

Superintendent, Dr. Davis, has outlined the challenges facing UCPS in a video that he released March 7th: and in an article that he and Luan Ingram, Chief Communication Officer, wrote entitled “2012-2013 Legislative Priorities and Talking Points”: . Please take some time to watch the video and review the Legislative Priorities and Talking Points. We need everyone to understand the budget situation facing our schools and the potential consequences of inaction.

What else can you do? Please email your state and local elected officials and express your concern that you want your tax dollars spent on funding your schools.

For state officials, we would like the funding formulas revised that currently do not account for performance and enrollment growth when determining funding allocation by county. While state officials will tell you the amount of money spent on public education over the past several years in all of NC has remained constant, truthfully, the portion of that going to UCPS has dramatically declined. The largest portion of our education budget comes from the state and we need the state to fairly fund our schools.

For local officials, we would like a stronger emphasis placed on funding our local county schools. Our County Commissioners have discretion on how they spend available funds. They have $54 million from the sale / lease of the hospital and have the authority to put a portion of that towards schools to help fund the shortfall in the near term. School bonds were passed by local voters in 2006 and the full corresponding tax increase was never implemented by County Commissioners. County Commissioners chose not to implement the final 2+ cents increase that was approved by voters and would have gone strictly towards schools. Recently, our County Commissioners proposed a ½ cent tax cut in Union County. However, our local debt service is at capacity and our schools are not adequately funded.

It has been proven in studies that the # 1 reason people move to Union County is for the excellent schools. Ask the county to support its # 1 asset and economic driver and place the importance of a good education above a token tax cut. Ask the state to invest in a school system with a proven high return.

Here are the collective email addresses to copy and paste:

State legislators email addresses:
Tommy.Tucker@ncleg.net; Craig.Horn@ncleg.net; Justin.Burr@ncleg.net; Frank.McGuirt@ncleg.net;

NC State Senate: Tommy Tucker
NC House of Representatives: D. Craig Horn, Justin Burr, Frank McGuirt

Union County Commissioners’ email addresses:
jerry.simpson@co.union.nc.us; todd.johnson@co.union.nc.us; tracykuehler@co.union.nc.us; kimrogers@co.union.nc.us; jonathan.thomas@co.union.nc.us;

Commissioners: Jerry Simpson; Todd Johnson; Tracy Kuehler; Kim Rogers; Jonathon Thomas

For more information, please “like” the Protect Union County Schools Facebook page: A strong showing of supportive and engaged parents is vital at these next 2 meetings. Union County Public Schools is a great place because it has great administration, staff, teachers, students AND parents! Join us in protecting our schools, expecting essential funding and safeguarding our children’s future.

Sincerely,
The Rea View Elementary PTA Board

 

Written by: Diann Harvey
Posted: Mar 30, 2012 by Diann Harvey

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