Dear NCGA, Where is the $730 Million You Owe Us? Signed, North Carolina School Districts

As the midterms approach and partisan electioneering is ramping up, there is one particular item that hopefully voters will not forget when deciding to cast a ballot in November, especially if public education is a focal point for making a decision.

On Aug. 1st, the News and Observer ran a report entitled “Give us the $730 million you owe us — NC schools taking state leaders to court.” It begins,

North Carolina school districts are going back to court to try to enforce a 10-year old court decision ordering state leaders to turn over nearly $750 million that was improperly withheld from public schools.

In 2008, Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning ordered the state to turn over $747.9 million in civil fines that should have been given to public schools over a nine-year period. With only $18 million provided so far, the N.C. School Boards Association and 20 school boards filed a new lawsuit Wednesday in Wake County Superior Court to get the state to meet its state constitutional obligation to provide the remaining $730 million” (https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article215827195.html).

Interestingly enough, “the money can only be used for technology and would be split among all of the state’s school districts based on how many students they have.

And that would be welcome money for so many school systems because of outdated technology. Yes, many in Raleigh will brag that we as a state are one of the first to connect all school systems to the internet, but it takes good equipment to navigate those information highways. Plus, to service and update as needed costs much.

Take a look at the following tables for the breakdown of that money according to each school system. It was compiled by red4ednews.com and is a website that each public school advocate should bookmark for useful and insightful information.

money1money2money3

One might argue that it can only be used for technology. But think of how much money could be used in other high need areas that might have already been designated in local budgets for technology. It can now be used elsewhere.

Of course the Tim Moore’s and Phil Berger’s of Raleigh will point out the fact that those court decision was made before the current powers that be came into office.

“The judgment was reached against Democrat lawmakers over a decade ago as they were slashing education spending by over $700 million in two years, furloughing teachers and cutting their pay, but since that time Republican leaders in the state General Assembly made schools their top priority by doubling K-12’s share of new state spending and increasing total public education appropriations by nearly $3 billion a year,” Joseph Kyzer, a spokesman for House Speaker Tim Moore, said in a written statement.

That explanation would be a lot more digestible if they could explain the effects of the Great Recession.

Furthermore, bragging about having already funded the class size mandate when clearly they have not and allowing per pupil expenditure to remain stagnated complicates the digestibility of their claims.

Wake County just had a $25 million dollar shortfall in their upcoming budget. According to the table above, they are owed three times as much. In the N&O report, there is a link to the actual filed lawsuit – all 18 pages.

lawsuit

One of the defendants named is Mark Johnson. But don’t worry, he is all about giving out technology with recent news that he magically found funds to purchase a lot of iPads for k-3 reading teachers.

With this money, he could almost by one for every student in the state. But each county’s needs are different which is why if they got the money supposedly owed to them, they could do what the saw fit to do. And wasn’t one of Johnson’s mantras in the past election to give more control to LEA’s?

The fact that current lawmakers like Moore and Berger argue that this should have been taken care of in 2009 is in itself an admission of guilt; they are trying to defend their not holding up an obligation with what they perceive as sins from the past.

Their inaction now is a real sin in the present.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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