Beaufort Co. Commissioners vote to fund 9 TA positions

WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) – The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners voted to fund nine teacher assistants positions during its special meeting Monday.

Last week, the Beaufort County Board of Education voted to cut 16 TA positions in the wake of expected cuts once the General Assembly approves a new budget. Seven of those positions were going to be cut through attrition, and nine TA’s were going to lose their job.

Under the motion that passed 5-0 on Monday, the county will fund the nine TA positions at $315,000. If the state budget ends up covering the teacher assistants positions, the county will get that money back.

“We didn’t want for those nine jobs to be pushed to the side,” said Commissioner Gary Brinn. “We wanted them to continue to work.”

Although the decision was unanimous, Commissioner Hood Richardson had several questions for Beaufort County Schools Superintendent Don Phipps before voting.

“I’m the only commissioner in this county that investigates things before I vote. The rest of them are just yes men,” Richardson said.

He said he was concerned about getting the money back once the state budget is approved. He also disagrees with the county going against what the legislation has done for several years in cutting back TA positions. He said TA’s have never been proven to make a big difference in the classroom.

“Why Beaufort County wants to go against the legislature doesn’t fit with me,” Richardson said.

One person who now has a job again is Eastern Elementary TA Jackie May, who is entering her 11th year as a TA. She said TA’s play a critical role in education, but the past few weeks have been difficult without knowing whether she would have a job.

“It’s also difficult because the children need as much support in the classroom as they can possibly get,” May said.

While the school district is pleased by the commissioner’s vote, Superintendent Phipps said he knows they still have their work cut out for them trying to find funding in the future.

“As the years progress and you have that cumulative effect, it’s much more difficult to be able to go out and find a pot of money or a certain number of dollars,” Phipps said.

Commissioners said this would be a one time vote, and that they won’t do this in upcoming years.

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