Gov. Hunt Says Plan Builds on N.C.'s School Reforms
Gov. James B. Hunt Jr. of North Carolina last week unveiled a $478 million education-revitalization plan that would boost public school salaries, funnel money into the state's Basic Education Program, and bolster the community-college and university systems.
In his State of the State Address to the legislature, the newly elected Governor applauded lawmakers for "sustaining the difficult process of education reform,'' and vowed to further their efforts.
"Now that we have laid the foundation,'' Governor Hunt said, "it is time to build the house.''
Mr. Hunt, who compiled a widely praised record on education reform during two previous terms as Governor, promised during his campaign last year to launch a "crusade for education.'' (See Education Week, Dec. 16, 1992.)
The plan announced by Mr. Hunt last week calls for $200 million in salary increases for public school educators, $60 million for B.E.P. aid targeting low-wealth and small school systems, $105 million for the state's university system, and $113 million for "workforce preparedness'' and community-college funding.
The Governor also stressed the need for early-childhood and dropout-prevention programs to "make sure every child starts school ready to learn, and every student graduates.''
"As long as one child cannot get a public education that paves the way for success in life, we have not done our job,'' he said.
Accountability Panel Pledged
The Governor also pledged to establish an Education Standards and Accountability Commission composed of educators, parents, and business people, which he said could help define "what our graduates should know and be able to do to compete in the 21st-century economy.''
The schools are often blamed for the results before the goals have been defined, Mr. Hunt suggested.
Only if the standards are "high, specific, and measurable will we be able to hold our schools accountable,'' Governor Hunt said.
The Governor also announced a $5 million proposal to strengthen staff ratios for child-care centers, $3 million to expand financial aid for the working poor who cannot afford child care, and $8 million in child-care tax credits for middle-income families.
Caperton Urges Raises For School Support Staff
Gov. Gaston Caperton of West Virginia has proposed a $1,000 pay raise for school service workers, to be financed by an increase in taxes on residents with incomes over $100,000.
The raise for state employees and for school support personnel, such as cafeteria workers and bus drivers, comes in the wake of the completion last year of a three-year, $5,000 pay raise for the state's teachers.
In his State of the State Address this month, Mr. Caperton also called for increased state funding for the state's troubled retirement fund for teachers and support staff, which has an unfunded liability estimated at $2.8 billion.
"No teacher should have to worry whether or not his retirement is guaranteed,'' the Governor said in requesting a $27 million addition to the regular state payment of $156 million.
Mr. Caperton also requested additional funding for training for
principals and teachers and outlined a proposal to mandate
teacher-planning time within the school day for elementary school
teachers. He also urged expansion of the state's computer-basic-skills
program to grades 3 and 4, using $3 million in state-lottery
Vol. 12, Issue 22