In last year’s budget, the General Assembly approved new class size rules for K-3, but took away local school district’s flexibility related to those caps and gave them essentially no time and limited resources to meet the new requirements. The result is thousands of arts, music, physical education and world language teachers are in jeopardy of losing their jobs if House Bill 13 is not passed quickly. Historically, local districts have funded these positions using that flexibility. The House unanimously passed the bill. The NC Senate should pass House Bill 13 immediately to save these needed positions, and then work with school districts for a long-term lower class size solution.
One way to help is to elevate North Carolina’s per pupil funding to at least the national average. The state’s track record over the last five years has been dismal on this key education investment measure. In fact, while the ranking may have gone up a hair, North Carolina continues to fall further behind. In 2011-12, North Carolina was more than $2,300 behind the national average, and now we are projected to be more than $3,000 behind the national average. North Carolina’s per pupil expenditure is $8,898, ranking us 43rd in the nation. The U.S. average is $11,943. North Carolina’s textbook and technology fund is woefully inadequate and behind pre-recession levels, and the state’s average teacher pay continues to land us in the bottom tier of states. Increasing both will help per pupil spending. Our students deserve better than this. Instead, some of the elected leaders in the General Assembly continue to focus on tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy instead of giving our students the greatest opportunity at success. Let’s invest in our public school classrooms and give North Carolina the schools our students deserve by raising per pupil spending to at least the national average.