Teachers Feeling Overwhelmed After Paraprofessional Layoffs

ATHENS, Ga. — Some Athens elementary school teachers are feeling overwhelmed after a recent budget cut. The Clarke County School District laid off 48 paraprofessionals, also known as teaching assitants, and teachers are starting to feel the burden.

One of these teachers is Andy Plemmons, the Media Specialist at Barrow Elementary School. Plemmons has always had a paraprofessional help run the media center, but because of school board budget cuts, she was laid off. Because he’s on his own, Plemmons feels more overwhelmed than ever before.

“Not having a paraprofessional has definitely made my job more difficult,” said Plemmons. “You’re taking two full time jobs and making them one person’s job.”

Media centers and 1st grade classrooms took the biggest hit in Clarke-County schools. Teachers have turned to volunteers to help fill the void. Volunteer Emily Barr is glad to help out and ease the burden on these teachers.

“I definitely feel like the teachers and staff are overwhelmed with the loss of the teaching assistants, so they’re always really appreciative of any extra help,” said Barr.

Plemmons says it’s hard to find volunteers like Barr on a regular basis and is often running the media center by himself.

“My stress level is a lot higher than it should be, even though I don’t have the support I’m trying to juggle as much of it as I can,” said Plemmons.

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