At the February 8, 2018 meeting of the Guilford County Board of Education, GCAE President Todd Warren spoke from the floor and addressed issues included in the letter below:
Greetings Superintendent and Board,
The Guilford County Association of Educators (GCAE) set three priority goals for this spring:
1. Win a local funding increase from the Guiford County Commissioners in order to meet this year’s GCS budget request.
2. #RepealHB13 or fully fund the class size mandate.
3. Support a state school construction bond and the inclusion of school construction/ repair funds in any federal infrastructure bill.
We are closely monitoring House Bill 90, but at the moment it appears there will be a legislative fix to our second goal, the class size issue. I’m concerned about all the other things being thrown into this bill around the Atlantic Oil Pipeline, Education Savings Accounts, and the NC Governor’s powers related to the State Board of Elections; but despite those items it appears we will at least get a much needed reprieve on immediate class size mandates and instead get a more manageable four year phase-in with state funding for specialist positions.
What is clear to me is that this is not an act of benevolence by the NC General Assembly. This class size chaos was created by the NCGA and only because thousands of voices united against this bad legislation are we now getting some relief. This took all of us. Parents, teachers, Public Schools First NC, the NC Association of Educators, the Guilford Education Alliance, Save Our Schools NC, NC PTAs, and you: the Guilford County Board of Education, Superintendent Contreras, and other districts across the state all moved quickly and effectively on this issue.
I applaud not just including this issue in your Legislative Agenda, but the way the Superintendent and the District have encouraged teachers and district employees to make their voices heard on this issue. We have sent letters, called legislators, rallied, spoken in staff meetings, passed petitions and truly made our voices heard.
It’s times like these I am truly proud to be a part of our local, the Guilford County Association of Educators, and help work together on issues as important as this one.
As always, our work is not done.
Budget season is upon us and even though the Guilford County Board of Education has not yet approved the coming year’s budget, the recently adopted Five District Goals and the Joint Building Study are indicators to me and our Association that the focus of the district is headed in the right direction. In particular, the explicit commitments to racial equity around academic goals and reducing discipline disparities make me proud to be a part of Guilford County Schools.
These are lean times for public schools everywhere and recent years have been full of hard, seemingly impossible choices. I hope as a budget emerges we will see not only an increase to the local supplement for teachers, but raises for our classified staff who all too often get overlooked. Children couldn’t learn without the bus drivers that get them to school, the cafeteria workers preparing and serving meals, and the custodians and maintenance staff that keep our buildings clean and functional. Decisions always have be made in the best interest of student learning, but at GCAE we are dedicated to doing the advocacy work necessary to win the dollars needed to fully fund our schools.
The Guilford County Association of Educators is committed to transforming the landscape of possibility; meaning what is not politically or fiscally possible today can be very much in reach tomorrow with consistent, collaborative, and organized efforts.
To that end, I invite you to the launch of our spring campaign entitled, “Make it Happen!” Next Thursday, February 15 in the Media Center at Smith High we will open our regular monthly member meeting from 6-7:30 pm to the PTA and the public to do the work of making sure Guilford County Schools’ students and staff get what they deserve. You are invited and welcome to join in, details and an RSVP for dinner can be found here:
Thank you for all that you do, I look forward to our continued work together.