RALEIGH -- State education leaders said the N.C. Senate's education funding doesn't add up.
Although Senate leaders said their budget proposal increases education funding by $54 million, the state superintendent said it's actually a funding decrease.
It's a budget battle of numbers and state school leaders said students and teachers are caught in the middle.
The Senate's proposed budget provides $214 million less than the House of Representatives proposal and $528 million dollars less than the governor's suggested budget.
“We face the real prospect of doing lasting damage to our public schools with this kind of decision making,” said State Superintendent June Atkinson.
One of the biggest concerns for school leaders is the loss of $259 million in federal EduJobs funding to pay for teachers. The proposed House budget fills that funding gap, but the Senate proposal doesn't.
School leaders said, in the worst-case scenario, it could cost more than 5,000 teachers their jobs.
“It really is that bad,” said Sheri Strickland, president of the N.C. Association of Educators. “Our educators have understood there are budget cuts that had to be made. Those budget cuts have been made and programs have been lost and textbooks are old and people are gone. But to continue to move in that direction is going to have a significant impact on students.”
“Some teachers will lose their jobs,” Atkinson said.
Superintendents from across the state said they can't afford to lose more teachers.
“We cut 120 teaching positions last year,” said Dr. Don Martin, superintendent of Winston-Salem/Forsyth Schools. “The state cut over 900. We cut 120 of them.”
The Senate is expected to pass its budget proposal this week.
Then members of the Senate and House will work together to create a budget both chambers will agree on.
The budget then goes to the governor for approval.