Sullivan County

Could cutting teacher's aides have impact on students?

Cutting teacher's aides

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - The Sullivan County School Board recommends cutting more than 30 teacher's aides next year as a cost-saving measure to balance the 2013-2014 budget.

We've learned the school system sent out letters to 33 teachers' aides Tuesday explaining the cuts. We caught up with officials to learn more on how job cuts could impact students.

Cuts in Sullivan County classrooms are likely. Monday night the school board approved next year's budget, but the Sullivan County Commission still has the final vote.

"It's a tough budget this year. We've had probably the first time in a long time we've had a budget affecting classrooms and people," said Director of Schools Jubal Yennie.

We picked up a copy of the 2013-2014 budget and learned by cutting more than two dozen teacher's aides the school would save about $300,000. Yennie says they were able to close a $3,000,000 gap in the last 30 days.

While the proposal is a balanced budget and the school board didn't have to ask county commission for more funding, what do cuts cost students?

"Probably the biggest program affected will be the RTI program, or Response To Intervention, where we work with at-risk students trying to get them some reading help," added Yennie.

We checked with Lloyd Putney, President of the Sullivan County Education Association, who says aides are in the classrooms because they're needed. "I think any time you take help from a teacher you're hurting learning, you're hurting students. I do understand something had to be done but it hurts the students. I wish there was another way," added Putney.

Yennie says while it's too late for a solution, some of these aides could be rehired depending on student ratios this fall.

The school board also approved cuts to maintenance and custodial staff hours. As another cost-saving measure, the school system decided not to buy new textbooks, saving another $400,000.

Sullivan County budget committees will be meeting this week before commissioners approve the county's final budget.

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