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Columbus County teachers return to work thanks to stimulus funds

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The halls are empty at the schools in Columbus County, but teachers are busy planning for their students return. Many of those teachers are back in the classroom thanks to federal stimulus money.

“Without the stimulus money this year we could have been facing at least 66 jobs and that’s teacher jobs, to clerical, custodial jobs, teacher assistants, any kind of job,” said Superintendent Dan Strickland.

Associate Superintendent Alan Faulk added, “The stimulus money is well need and we will probably use all of it.”

Columbus County schools employ close to a thousand people, and nearly half are teachers.

As one of the major employers in the county, keeping teachers in the classroom was crucial to the district. The county lost state funding, but around four million dollars of stimulus money will help keep the system running.

Administrators hoped federal dollars were supposed be used to update technology across the county. Computer, Smart Boards you name it, but now the economy has changed that. Budget cuts mean cutting down on even the smallest expenses like paper.

“Instead of printing things, lets put it on the internet and make it available on the computer,” said South Columbus Assistant Principal Jeffery Russell.

The county is moving to integrate more internet based learning in the classroom through North Carolina Virtual Public High School.

Columbus is one of eight districts in the state to use the pilot program, giving students the opportunity to earn credit via the internet.

One teacher was laid off but it had nothing to do with funding, rather enrollment numbers in the county have been steadily declining.

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videoThe halls are empty at the schools in Columbus County, but teachers are busy planning for their students return. Many of those teachers are back in the classroom thanks to federal stimulus money.

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