CARY – When Cary Junior High students attend school next year, they will have the opportunity to be in foreign language, health and computer technology classes.
Dedicated teachers for the specials, or noncore classes, are among the positions District 26 is bringing back next school year after they were part of major cuts that took effect in the 2010-11 school year.
Those classes are part of the 2014-15 staffing plan approved by the school board Monday, which calls for filling 11.5 new full-time positions in the district.
Approval of the plan brought applause from those in the audience. The estimated cost for the new positions is $488,250, which has been incorporated into the district’s financial plan.
With the district’s improved finances, junior high students will have six weeks each of health, art, music, foreign language and computer technology, as well as daily physical education.
As part of the staffing plan approved on Monday, the school district will employ band directors, which have been paid for by the Cary Band Association since the 2010-11 school year.
The district is projecting it will have 1.5 positions for the fifth- through eighth-grade band program. At the district’s elementary schools, art and music instruction will be doubled from 30 minutes a week to one hour a week.
Under the plan, the district will add three learning center/media teachers, who will help elementary school students when they go to the schools’ libraries for a half-hour a week.
As part of the 2010 cuts, the district went to one library media coordinator to share time between the schools, with assistants running the learning centers.
The district next year also plans to add a technology support specialist, as the district starts to use more iPads and SMART Boards.
Next school year, however, the district does plan to cut one classroom teacher as enrollment continues to decline. The district is projecting a net loss of 92 students districtwide next school year, but the enrollment decline is expected to stabilize in a few years, said Superintendent Brian Coleman. The net gain in teachers in the district is 10.5 positions.
Former board member Chris Jenner, who was part of the board that made the decision to cut the specials during difficult financial times, thanked the board and administration for focusing on restoring the programs.
He also gave credit to teachers for accepting concessions in their current union contract.
“That contract though is the main reason the board is being presented tonight with an affordable and responsible staffing plan,” Jenner said.
Board member Scott Coffey said the steps to bring back specials started four years ago.
“There were a lot of challenges and a lot of hard work involved by ... every staff member, every employee,” Coffey said. “Certainly the students had to bear some inconveniences as well ... We put the things in motion 48 months ago to get to this point today.”