BCR got an interesting, and worrying, email from a source this week suggesting after-school confabs between principals and their teachers.
The subject: an early warning alarm about this upcoming year's district budget, with teachers purportedly told to expect deep slashes in spending.
We checked in with Durham Public Schools, and the meetings are a reality, and they're not exactly hush-hush; the Board suggested it. From a statement released to Bull City Rising by DPS this weekend:
The Board of Education Administrative Services Committee was briefed on the budget forecast at its recent meeting. At that meeting, the Board asked staff to get input from teachers and principals regarding ways to meet the proposed state cuts [state letter] of 3, 5 and 7 percent.
In preparation for a principals' meeting on Thursday, Jan. 28, principals were asked to discuss potential cuts with their staffs. This information, along with the Budget Advisory Committee discussion and other input, will be considered as the budget is developed.
That explains the meetings. The real question in the coming months will be, just how bad will DPS' budgetary situation be?
Last year saw painful cuts to teaching assistants and other programs as DPS struggled with county and state pains -- but public schools at least had emergency federal stimulus dollars available to help them out.
This time around, the state budget situation is likely worse, as tax collections and state budget years are lagging functions. And DPS disproportionately spent its stimulus dollars in FY2010, leaving less in the kitty to avoid cuts in 2011.
It's not hard to predict that the cuts will be tough. Watch closely for the relative impact on classroom instruction, administrative staff, and facilities and projects. Don't look for a miracle from County budget-writers, who are themselves strapped. Stay tuned.