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Cutting Project Enlightenment's parent counseling program

It looks like lobbying efforts by supporters of Project Enlightenment have failed to spare the program from major Wake County school budget cuts.

As noted in today's article, Project Enlightenment lost all nine of its parent counselors as part of the school system's layoff Tuesday night of 68 employees. The program, which has 47 employees, also saw three of its four secretaries be transferred to other programs.

The cuts mean the elimination of the program's parent counseling services. This means no more telephone call line, parental workshops or parental counseling sessions.

DPS employees prefer a non-viable option to save jobs

The majority of Durham Public Schools employees who completed a recent survey prefer a two-day furlough over pay cuts.

But their choice will not be possible because of how they're paid.

Approximately two-thirds of DPS employees - 2,880 - recently completed a survey asking them to choose between the two options. Nearly 73 percent favored the furloughs, which would save 32 positions.

About 5.5 percent favored a 5 or 7 percent permanent salary reduction and 21.6 percent opted for no reductions.

DPS officials learned on Friday that they cannot impose furloughs because local school districts cannot give employees who are paid through state dollars time off beyond what they earn under state annual leave rules, explained DPS school attorney Ann Majestic.

The move would also equate to a demotion for teachers under contract, which cannot happen without just cause, said interim superintendent Hank Hurd.

DPS is considering cutting 292 jobs, including over 200 teachers, to prepare the district for an estimated $20 million budget shortfall. Saving all jobs would require an across-the-board pay cut of up to 8 percent, something Hurd believes school board members will not approve.

"It's just impossible to manage these type of reductions through normal attrition or reductions in efficiencies," he said. "We did that last year. It is a situation where position reductions are the only way out." 

The proposed 2010-11 budget will be presented to school board members during the April 29 school board meeting. 

Uncertain coaching and AD positions

The hiring uncertainty with the terminating-contract employees is having an impact on high school athletics as well.

As noted in today's article by Tim Stevens, quite a few athletic directors and coaches are on terminating contracts. They, like all 1,496 terminating-contract employees, don't know if they'll be rehired after their contracts expire June 30.

"No one knows. Everyone has questions, but no one has many answers," said Bob Catapano, Sanderson High's athletic director and a person on a terminating contract, in today's article.

Because the county is not hiring new teachers, some athletic directors wonder where next year's coaches will come from if any current coaches decide to not coach.

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