Remember when Mark Johnson announced that reading teachers in K-3 would receive a brand new Apple iPad to use in classrooms? That was in the summer of 2018.
On the surface, it seemed like a positive notion. But…
Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson announced the plan Tuesday morning, holding up an iPad for the media, the governor and other members of North Carolina’s Council of State. Johnson’s office put the statewide price tag for the devices at about $6 million…
That announcement about iPads came a little over a month after Johnson purged many jobs within DPI as part of a budget cut.
Layoff notices were given Friday to 40 employees at the state Department of Public Instruction — including several who work with North Carolina’s low-performing schools — to help meet a $5.1 million budget cut ordered by state lawmakers.
Most of the cuts were in Educator Support Services, a division that helps low-performing schools and districts, and in the Information Technology Division. In addition to the 40 layoffs, 21 vacant positions were eliminated, according to State Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson.
“Today, we implemented the budget reductions required by law for the 2018-19 fiscal year,” Johnson said in a written statement. “The plan we developed, drafted by members of the DPI leadership team with the understanding and support of the State Board of Education, was informed by the recommendations contained in the third-party operational review of the agency completed earlier this year by Ernst & Young (EY).”
A 5.1 million dollar shortfall on top of a 1 million dollar audit and 700,000 extra for lawyers and loyalists to Johnson and it caused a massive layoff of vital people in DPI who helped low-performing schools.
iPads + Audit + Lawyers Fees/Hiring Loyalists = 6.8 million dollars.
Nearly another million dollars. Wasted.
iPads + Audit + Lawyers Fees/Hiring Loyalists + iStation = at least 7.7 million dollars.
Wait. Add those glossy flyers with color pictures for literally every school in the state. That’s got to be worth some money.
iPads + Audit + Lawyers Fees/Hiring Loyalists + iStation + Glossy Flyers = Around 8 million dollars.
It could have:
- Funded 160 reading specialists for the school year at low-performing schools ($50k per).
- Funded Governor’s School for a few years.
- Covered the budget cut at DPI this year.
- Funded a full restoration of Teacher Fellow Program for a while.
- Funded teacher assistant positions around the state for the school year.
- Funded professional development for the school year around the state.
- Bought textbooks.
- Funded bus drivers in many areas where teacher assistants are having to cover routes.
- Bought other more pressing school supplies that teachers buy themselves for classroom use.
- Funded more school psychologists.
- Funded more school nurses.
- Covered student lunch money debt.
And there still is no state budget passed for this school year.