School Funding

Cole del Charco / WUNC

Jones County has seen its share of destruction and economic challenges. It was one of the poorest counties in North Carolina, even before Hurricane Florence swept through last September, decimating two of the county’s six school buildings. Students in the district missed 25 days of school.

Wilson Sayre / WUNC

Evergreen Elementary School in Columbus County is clean, tidy, and nearly 100 years old. Light comes in through parts of the roof in the gym where the dark brown floor boards have buckled up in little swollen hills two inches tall. Classrooms inside the main building are small based on today's standards, the auditorium is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and technology is an afterthought.

West Lumberton Elementary teacher June Hunt helps second grader Niveah Barnes with a grammar assignment in their temporary classroom at Lumberton Junior High. Flooding from Hurricane Matthew destroyed the home where NIveah was living.
Lisa Philip / WUNC

Note: This segment is a rebroadcast from January 16, 2018. 

A study from the Public School Forum of North Carolina confirms a large and growing gap in public school funding between the wealthiest and the poorest counties. The study found that in 2015-2016, the 10 highest spending counties spent $2,364 more per student than the 10 lowest-spending counties, and the gap has increased every year since 2011.

Former high school business teacher and current teacher advisor to the governor LaTanya Pattillo seated next to students in her Innovation, Research and Development class who worked on a project with the manufacturer Ply Gem as part of Patillo's professio
Courtesy of LaTanya Pattillo

Just as doctors and engineers continue to seek training to keep up-to-date in their fields, teachers too look for ways to stay sharp -- and keep up with the industries their students will enter. However, the funding for professional development for North Carolina teachers is limited.

Teacher in classroom with students.
woodleywonderworks / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/auPuAq

Tens of thousands of North Carolina teachers flooded Raleigh in May to demand higher pay. But many of the teachers who marched also voiced a desire for more public school funding.

Colavito Tyson is a teacher assistant at Nash-Rocky Mount Schools. She came to the May #Red4Ed march in Raleigh carrying this sign that she says she's had for years, from another educators' march calling for more school funding years ago.
Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

North Carolina educators have marched in Raleigh repeatedly over the years - and most recently in May - to call for better funding for public schools. While the spotlight is often on teacher pay, the full picture is a lot more complicated.

Veteran school finance officer Jennifer Bennett of Vance County Schools says she struggles to find ways to pay for technology, after-school programs and field trips to expose her small-town students to experiences that will prepare them for future jobs.
Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

Educators across the state often complain of tight public school budgets that leave something to be desired. Two school finance officers explain what they want most: more flexibility and more funding.

photo of eastman amongst red and blue baloons, speaking at a podium
Nati Harnik / AP Photo

Female candidates swept primary elections in Pennsylvania and Nebraska this week. Will this wave continue into the November midterm elections? And Wednesday’s teacher rally in Raleigh is part of a wave of teacher protests in red states. What impact could this have on the midterms?

Supporters of raising pay for teachers began to march in downtown Raleigh on Wednesday morning.
James Morrison / WUNC

Thousands of North Carolina teachers march through the streets of Raleigh on Wednesday to call for higher pay and for more resources for their students. The march is part of the wave of educator-led activism across the nation in backlash to federal and state-level education budget cuts.

classroom
Malate269 / Wikimedia Commons

Nearly 40 school districts in North Carolina will close schools on Wednesday, May 16. That is the opening day for the legislative session, and thousands of teachers from around the state plan to protest in Raleigh for better pay and working conditions. The demonstration comes as teachers strike and walk out in other states around the country, like Arizona, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

Third grade teachers, Brittney Dennis, left, and Sabrina Peacock.
Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

Thousands of North Carolina teachers will attend a rally at the Capitol Wednesday. They will call on legislators to restore funding and initiatives for teachers and students that were eliminated in the past decade.  Brittney Dennis and Sabrina Peacock are two third-grade teachers at different stages of their careers.  The two sat down to talk about the many cuts they have seen through the years, and why they plan to march. 

Cedar Fork Elementary in Wake County would have to add three more kindergarten classrooms under the class-size change scheduled to go into effect in the fall.
Jess Clark / WUNC

A legislative committee that may overhaul the way schools are funded is looking to rewrite the formula so it’s based primarily on a school district’s students.

File photo of North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper. The governor addressed the Emerging Issues Forum on Monday, Feb. 5, 2018 at North Carolina State University.
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

Governor Roy Cooper is urging business leaders to pressure the General Assembly to make funding for education a higher priority.

A sign indicates a no-student drop-off zone with Wake County public school buses in the background.
Brian Batista / For WUNC

A legislative task force is in a year-long process to consider overhauling how public schools are funded. Legislators heard from school administrators on Wednesday about their thoughts on the current funding model.

Wake School Bus
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

North Carolina is still spending much less on public education than it did before the Great Recession. That's according to a recent report from the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Bertie County schools has a deficit of $700,000.
RambergMediaImages / Flickr/Creative Commons

A new audit of Bertie County Schools reveals a system deficit of more than $700,000, mismanagement of school funding, and potential violations of state laws that go back to at least 2011.

Cedar Fork Elementary in Wake County would have to add three more kindergarten classrooms under the class-size change scheduled to go into effect in the fall.
Jess Clark / WUNC

Public-school officials are panicking ahead of state-mandated class-size reductions in kindergarten through third grade. School systems say lawmakers gave them an unfunded mandate when they demanded schools cut K-3 class sizes starting next school year.

North Carolina legislative building
Wikimedia Commons

Legislators filed  dozens of bills on the first day back since session officially opened, including a proposal to develop a plan to change how the state funds public schools.

classroom
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Nineteen of the state's lowest-performing schools are getting nearly $40 million in federal grants starting in January to improve student outcomes. Each school will receive between $690,000 and $3.7 million to put towards improvement plans over the next five years.

Wake County bus driver Auh-murel Wright has worked for the school district 10 years, and sill makes less than a "living wage."
Jess Clark / WUNC

In the parking lot at East Cary Middle School, bus driver Auh-murel Wright walks down the aisle of her bus between rows of empty seats, checking the alarms and the emergency exits. She does this before each trip to make sure her ride is safe. And she knows the exact minute she can expect the first students to climb aboard—2:13 p.m.

Magellan Charter School has one of the highest school performance grades in the state, but it also has a relatively wealthy student population.
Jess Clark / WUNC

In a small patch of pine trees outside Magellan Charter School, a fourth-grade science class is on the hunt for insects, plants and other life. One of the students, Mary Grace, has found a crabapple tree. Her teacher, Sara Dail, points to a small spongy lump poking through the pine straw bed below.

Attorney General Roy Cooper's campaign ads attack Governor Pat McCrory's record on education funding.
The Roy Cooper Campaign

Education is shaping up to be the issue in the battle for the governor’s mansion. Weeks after Republican Governor Pat McCrory released his TV ads touting the rise in teacher pay under his leadership, Democratic candidate Roy Cooper released his own TV ads attacking the incumbent governor’s record on education.

But how do the claims in Cooper’s TV spots stack up against the facts? Let’s take a look.

classroom
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Wake County school board members have made some creative cuts to fill a $17.5 million budget gap.

Board members approved a 2016-2017 operating budget this week that they say manages to avoid any layoffs, but reduces air conditioning usage slightly, cuts the number of days schools are swept and vacuumed and increases class sizes.

Guilford County fourth grade math teacher Diana Watson scopes out the shelves of donated markers and highlighters at the Guiford Teacher Supply Warehouse.
Jess Clark

Guilford County second grade teacher Nicole Batts-Elder scoped out shelves stacked with spiral notebooks, multicolor folders and bundles of unsharpened pencils at the Guilford County Teacher Supply Warehouse on a recent afternoon.

Wake County School Bus
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Wake County school board members are considering where they can make cuts in order to fill a $17.5 million budget gap. A proposed plan would increase class sizes, freeze teachers' local salary supplements and cut back on custodial services.

Mugshot photos of Leah Hendershot and Anca Stefan
Leah Hendershot/Anca Stefan

Earlier this month, 14 public school teachers were arrested outside of Gov. Pat McCrory's office after they linked arms and blocked a downtown Raleigh intersection. The demonstration was a response to what the teachers say is a lack of funding for North Carolina's public schools.

In the days since the protest, teachers have posted their mugshots to social media along with their reasons for demonstrating. One teacher wrote, "I've taught World and U.S. history without a textbook for the past four years." Those posts have gone viral.

photo of an apple on top of books
Kate Ter Haar / Creative Commons


In their version of the budget, Senate Republicans have a plan to grow a large reserve fund for the Opportunity Scholarship Program. The scholarships, or vouchers, are given to low-income parents so they can pay to send their children to private rather than public schools.

Police arrested 14 educators who refused to leave the intersection.
Jess Clark / WUNC

Dozens of protesters gathered in downtown Raleigh Wednesday to demand increased funding for public schools and expanded Medicaid. Police arrested fourteen teachers, teacher assistants and parents for blocking traffic.

Teacher, school, hallway
Jess Clark / WUNC

Lawmakers in the state House have renewed efforts to direct more money from school districts to charter schools.

Pat McCrory
James Willamor / Flickr Creative Commons

Governor Pat McCrory proposed a 5 percent average pay increase for North Carolina teachers and a
 a 3.5 percent average bonus.

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