Rally to protest school cuts

The Iredell-Statesville Schools will host a "Save Our Schools" rally Friday night to protest steep cuts in public education proposed in the N.C. General Assembly.

Funded entirely by donations, the rally will feature games for children, door prizes, entertainment and various speakers.

"Parents and other supporters continue to ask how they can become involved in helping to advocate for our schools," school system Superintendent Brady Johnson said in announcing the rally. "This is one way. The more people who come together on June 3, the louder the message is that we support our schools and our students."

The rally will be 7 to 9 p.m. at the Statesville High School stadium. Organizers are asking rally-goers to wear red.

The rally's purpose is to make sure parents, staff and other residents understand "the ill effects of the state's drastic budget reductions," Johnson said. Early estimates indicate that schools will receive reductions in funding of 8percent to 10percent, he said.

In anticipation of a reduction, the Iredell-Statesville Board of Education earlier this month approved the district administration's recommendations to eliminate about 76 positions and reduce employment for about 50 other jobs.

"When nearly 80percent of your budget is personnel, you can't make drastic cuts and not affect employees," Johnson said. "And it is impossible to affect our employees and it not have a negative impact on the classroom. That is our primary concern.

"The cuts we are faced with cannot be good for children."

In the last two years, the district had already trimmed about 165 positions, through retirements and resignations.

"For every one person that is affected by our reduction in force, there is an entire group of children who will no longer benefit from the services that individual provided," Johnson said. "It is important that people understand what is going to happen to our schools and our students."

The school system is working on the rally with the Statesville branch of the NAACP, the local branch of the N.C. Association of Educators and other groups, Johnson said.