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42 teacher's assistants' jobs saved in Blount Co., for now

11:58 PM, Jun 27, 2013   |    comments
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(WBIR- Blount Co.) Dozens of East Tennessee teacher's assistants are breathing a sigh of relief, at least for now.

Blount County Schools passed a balanced budget Thursday night without laying off many of the positions originally on the chopping block.

Forty-two part-time teacher's assistants will have to wait until the county commission approves this budget before they can officially celebrate. But the school board amended the budget to allow them to keep their jobs, by adjusting the estimates on sales tax.

The school board is betting on sales tax revenues to be up 3.7% to provide the revenue for the teacher's assistants and an additional computer science teaching position and a part-time auto mechanic position.

Still, the board had to eliminate 38 unfilled positions left vacant by retirees or resignations. They include 21 teachers, a guidance counselor, a part-time psychologist, an elementary assistant principal , two custodians, three maintenance , and one central office position.

The board also had to cut more than a million dollars in funding for text books, technology, and transportation.

The Director of Schools, Rob Britt, said the decisions are "distasteful" and "disappointing."

"We're going to take a step backward and in an educational environment that's moving rapidly forward with rigorous standards and high accountability trying to prepare our students at a world class rate is quite a challenge," Britt said.

Britt said they wouldn't be in this position if the citizen's had approved the recent wheel tax vote or the proposed sales tax increase.

Teacher's assistant, Lee Ann White, said she will still be anxious until the county commission approves it.

"I don't know if I should be looking for a job before August 5th," White said. "My family we can't pay our bills without my job."

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