WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Governor Bev Perdue has conducted a series of rallies across North Carolina, calling on the General Assembly to protect public schools in the state budget.
People gathered in the Minnie Evans Arts Center at Ashley High School Monday morning, as Perdue addressed a rally of educators, teachers, and other concerned citizens about her education priorities.
"I applaud the General Assembly for their work to put a budget together, but - and that's a big word - in North Carolina we must act boldly to protect the classroom," said Perdue. "We cannot and must not cripple education. Cutting education means cutting short our economic future."
Perdue, a former teacher and public school graduate, had promised in her campaign to make education a central priority in her administration. She said the future of teacher jobs and schools are in her hands, and she said she's holding on tight.
"I'm going to do everything I can do to keep on my watch the first year of this administration from beginning the erosion of our school system,"said Perdue.
But that's a pledge that won't be easily kept since North Carolina has a $4.7 billion deficit. Governor Perdue vows in her budget the hole won't be filled with teacher's jobs or bigger classrooms.
"You cannot dump 3 or 4 more kids into every classroom in North Carolina without loosing quality education opportunities for kids," said Perdue. "We only get to the future we want and need and must have if we build up our educated workers."
A round of applause showed a room full of allies, but some teachers said they're tired of hearing promises and want to see plans.
"We need solutions, we need answers, we need dialogue between the people in the field - not just a bunch of politicians telling us what they think we want to hear," said Anderson Elm. special education teacher William Bayliss.
Teachers like William and Kemmie Bayliss said they want to hear whether or not their summer vacations will become permanent.
They were upset Perdue was in and out in less than 30 minutes and that the event was more rhetoric - not action.
"I just really feel like this was a waste of my time," said Bayliss.
Governor Perdue is demanding deep government spending cuts to cover the deficit.
"We expect and intend to cut everything that we can cut that's superfluous," said Perdue. "Tough targeted, deep cuts. We want everybody in the state to tighten their belts and get ready. This is going to be a budget that nobody will like."
When asked about the education lottery, she said those dollars are all spent based on a formula.
Perdue said she has proposed a constitutional amendment that would not allow for lottery re-allocations, but said it's unlikely that statute would change in this session of the General Assembly.
Gov. Perdue also went to rallies in Raleigh, Greensboro, Charlotte, Asheville, and Greenville.