MARVIN -- Nearly 1,000 Union County residents attended a meeting Thursday night, many of them complaining to state legislators about cuts in funding to the Union County Schools.
They attended a meeting at Marvin Ridge High School, called for parents of students attending five schools that feed into the Marvin Ridge area. Several state lawmakers also attended.
The meeting was called to voice concern from parents about a possible $10 million budget shortfall for the Union County Schools in fiscal year 2012-13. School system officials say the cuts could mean the elimination of 170 teaching positions and larger classroom sizes.
"We find ourselves in a proverbial rock and a hard place,” said parent Bruce Frizen.
It's not a comfortable spot to be in.
Parent Danis Simmons said the students should not have to experience the fallout from such cuts.
"I think it impacts all the kids if the class size gets bigger,” Simmons said. “The advantage of having a teacher that can spend time with your kid individually is very important to all of our children.”
One big question Thursday was, "Where to cut?"
Parents and educators used Marvin Ridge High School as an example. The school ranks in the top five in the state in graduation rate but almost at the bottom for pupil spending. Plus, teachers said they haven't gotten a raise in four years.
"We are losing some of our brightest and best teachers -- the ones that are here and the ones that have not yet come,” Frizen said.
Some parents say local schools are at the tipping point where more cuts will hurt performance.
"It's a very motivated district so I think things will happen,” said parent Jacquie McCann.
Local lawmakers provided plenty of numbers for parents, explaining budgets and spending. Their bottom line is: The better the economy does, the more money there will be.
"You have to be part of the solution -- we desperately need your advice," said state Rep. D. Craig Horn, R-Union, who is from Weddington.
Parents and teachers are also hoping the county finds a way to come up with more money as well. School district budgets are always a work in progress until they're finalized in the summer.
Lawmakers said there could be more money to spend on schools next year but they won't know until this summer, when tax revenues are in and budgets are figured out.