Approved Durham schools budget to cut 100 jobs

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DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – The Durham School Board approved a budget Thursday that will affect classrooms across the county.

About $15 million is being cut from the budget which will result in more than 100 jobs being cut. Most of those jobs will be from the central office.

Around 50 teacher assistant positions will also be cut.

The school board is also going to ask the county for more money than originally planned to make up for the shortfall.

That money will help fund a mentoring program for young teachers that was slated to be cut altogether.

Parents had been concerned they could lose academic programs at their schools, including college-prep programs because of the cuts.

But that won’t happen but administrators acknowledge it will be more difficult with some staff members doing the jobs of two people.

“But, we’ve kind of hit the cliff where we are now having to look at some of those reductions at this time because they couldn’t be maintained forever out of savings,” said Aaron Beaulieu, chief financial officer.

The budget also factors in raises for teachers and staff which state legislators are proposing.

The board said the state needs to do more to fund schools overall.

School officials are meeting with Durham County leaders next week to discuss the budget to see if they can get the money they say they need.

Also Tuesday, the school board updated its nondiscrimination policy to include gender identity.

The board started looking into the change months before House Bill 2 passed.

The Keep NC Safe Coalition spoke out against the change by telling the board it would violate students’ privacy in bathrooms.

But board members said the change has nothing to do with bathrooms but rather protecting kids from being harassed.

“Please consider a solution that respects all students’ and parents’ beliefs and rights. Do not expand the nondiscrimination policy of the school system to include gender identity to make a political statement,” said Amy Wilmoth of Durham.

Heidi Carter, chair of Durham School Board, said the policy is about not allowing bullying.

“This policy is about not allowing bullying of our students or harassment. That’s what this policy is about. There’s no mention of the word bathroom,” Carter said.

The school district works with families of transgender students to accommodate them in bathrooms with one stall or in faculty bathrooms.

A district spokesman said the policy does not violate HB2.

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