Craven County Schools eliminated 36 teacher assistant positions as system leaders tried to manage a $1.27 million cut in state funding money.

Craven County Schools eliminated 36 teacher assistant positions as system leaders tried to manage a $1.27 million cut in state funding money.

Five teacher assistants lost their jobs for the upcoming school year, according to a release from Craven County Schools. It was unclear who the five are or where they worked. Details about the nature and location of the 36 eliminated positions also were unclear, including whether the posts are currently vacant.

Several comments on social media sites suggested the majority of the cuts are within Havelock schools. When asked about the comments, Jennifer Wagner, director of public relations for the school district, said: “The five TA positions that have been eliminated are not Havelock specific. They are district wide.”

The cuts raised concerns among some parents.

“Class sizes are getting bigger and teachers rely on those TAs,” parent Arlene Fortin said. “These are the teachers that drive the buses, help with the smaller groups and those who need extra help. There has got to be a way to make the cuts without cutting TAs.”

Wagner said principals would make adjustments to adjust the workload for the eliminated positions.

“It will be at the discretion of each principal to find staff members to be able to pick up additional responsibilities, and they will do their best to make sure it doesn’t impact classrooms or students,” Wagner said.

The Craven County Board of Education met in an emergency meeting on July 31. The meeting was closed to the public based on discussions about personnel. Late on Aug. 1, the school system announced the planned cuts in a news release, saying it could no longer absorb position funding cuts through attrition.

The cuts followed Craven County Schools’ “Reduction in Force” policy, according to the release. That policy, revised in 2011, is posted on the system’s website.

It states the superintendent determines reductions with oversight from the Board of Education. Normal attrition is the first consideration, followed by employees on “action” plans and those who “issued annual, temporary or one-year employment.”

The policy then calls for the superintendent to make recommendations for staff reductions based on factors such as job performance, seniority, licensing and credentials, and other criteria. The school board then can approve, disapprove or modify the superintendent’s recommendations, the policy states.

The $1.27 million cut in state funding for teacher assistants is the equivalent of a 21 percent reduction in funding for the positions, according to the system. The staff reduction took effect Monday.

With an additional 19 percent reduction in teacher assistant funding projected for next year, all TA positions within the district are frozen until further notice, according to the school system.