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News Education

The business of manufacturing has changed dramatically in recent years.

That’s why Southwestern Community College is fundamentally overhauling the way it trains the manufacturing employees of tomorrow.

With more than $1.5 million in Golden LEAF grant funding secured over the winter, Southwestern has purchased advanced manufacturing equipment and hired longtime instructor Jim Falbo to coordinate a new mechatronics engineering technology program that will begin this summer.

“These aren’t your grandfather’s manufacturing jobs,” said Sonja Haynes, SCC’s dean of workforce innovations. “We’re talking about more advanced automation and robotics. It’s no longer a job where you sit at a workstation and assemble something with your hands all day. Everything is computerized and more technical, and we can get you ready to fill these jobs in a short amount of time.”

This project received support from the Golden LEAF Foundation.

 

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With the rising costs of providing school meals, the Macon County School system recently approved another increase to the cost of school lunches. While the price has risen steadily over the last couple of years due to the increase in cost of goods that meet federal guidelines under the Healthy Hunger- Free Kids Act, there seems to be no end in sight.

The latest increase came at a cost of 10 cents, which brings elementary students' meal costs to $2.35 and secondary students to $2.55.

“As part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, it says that our average lunch prices have to be compared to the reimbursement rates and using the formula provided, it says that we have to raise our prices by 10 cents,” Kim Terrell, child nutrition director for Macon County Schools, told the school board during its meeting last week.

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N.C. legislature plans no appeal of court ruling

At Monday night's Board of Education meeting, the board received some clarity concerning an issue that they have struggled with for some time; the selection of teachers who would receive a “bonus” in accordance to criteria set by the board and mandated by the state.

The law passed by the N.C. Legislature meant that teachers would lose their tenure or career status protections by 2018. By the end of the year, districts were to identify criteria for teachers who have worked three or more years, in order to offer 25 percent of teachers a bonus and a one-time, four-year contract. The chosen 25 percent would lose their tenure status, if they accepted the bonus and four-year contract.

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Last week, North Carolina Senate Republicans revealed their proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which if approved, would feature the largest teacher pay hike in state history. At 11.2 percent or $468 million of the overall $21 billion state budget, the Senate offered the pay increase, but it came with a catch. Teachers would have to willingly forego their teacher tenure rights.

The proposed budget, which cleared committee and is not headed to the floor for debate, would begin giving teachers in the state a 11.2 percent permanent pay raise starting on July 1 and would boost North Carolina from being 47th overall in teacher pay, to being near the middle for the national average.

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