Education Funding

Funding for N.C. Executive Order Snagged in Budget Battle

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — August 07, 2002 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Gov. Michael F. Easley is sticking by his executive order to expand North Carolina’s preschool programs and hire hundreds more teachers, even as the legislature wrangles over whether to pay for the expensive mandates.

The Democratic governor issued the order July 24. He promised districts an additional $54 million to bolster a new state preschool program for disadvantaged 4-year-olds and to further reduce class sizes in kindergarten and 1st grade in the new school year.

The order responds to criticism from the Wake County Superior Court judge overseeing the state’s long-running school finance case.

In his ruling in April, Judge Howard E. Manning wrote that North Carolina “must roll up its sleeves, step in, and utilizing its constitutional authority and power over the [local education agencies], cause effective educational change when and where required.” (“Do More for Needy Students, N.C. Court Orders,” April 10, 2002.)

Gov. Michael F. Easley

But, in a letter to the state attorney general last month, Judge Manning expressed dissatisfaction with the state’s initial report to the court outlining its plan for improving schools.

“From the state’s report it appears that nothing concrete has been done whatsoever to assist [the school districts that need assistance] with implementing a plan ... to improve educational opportunities for at-risk children,” the judge wrote.

Ambitious Plan

That report was based on the recommendations of a task force appointed by the governor in May. The panel of education leaders outlined an ambitious plan for raising achievement among the state’s 1.2 million schoolchildren, and particularly those who live in poverty. The plan calls for eventually expanding the governor’s More at Four preschool program to 40,000 needy children, reducing to 18 the number of students in each K-3 class, and developing an intensive training program for teachers who work in high-need schools. The executive order would increase the number of children served by the preschool program in the coming school year from 1,600 to 7,600.

Gov. Easley wasted little time in using the judge’s recent comments to push his education proposals and his plan for a state lottery to help pay for them. The governor first called for a state lottery during his 2000 gubernatorial campaign, saying it could raise up to $250 million for education. Several such proposals have been rejected in the legislature over the past decade.

Following Mr. Easley’s executive order, the state education department directed school districts to hire their shares of nearly 600 additional teaching positions for the coming school year. The new teachers would come with a price tag of $28 million. Expanding the preschool program would cost another $26 million.

The governor’s bold demands come as the state faces a nearly $2 billion deficit in its $28 billion 2002-03 biennial budget that has forced staff and spending cuts in most state programs and agencies.

State lawmakers have been working in a special session to finish work on the budget for the second year of the 2002-03 biennium.

Mr. Easley dismissed claims that the executive order overstepped his powers. He cited a state law that allows him to expand programs to meet a court order. The state is currently appealing the judge’s ruling.

But the governor’s move drew angry responses from several state lawmakers.

House Minority Leader N. Leo Daughtry, a Republican, urged the governor in a letter last month to “stop trying to play games with the lottery—and gambling with the future of our children—and talk to us about real ways to achieve school equity.”

At least one school system has announced it will not proceed with hiring more teachers until the legislature approves the budget. Other districts are planning to hire teachers on contingency contracts that would require state funding approval to take effect.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the August 07, 2002 edition of Education Week as Funding for N.C. Executive Order Snagged in Budget Battle

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Building Teacher Capacity for Social-Emotional Learning
Set goals that support adult well-being and social-emotional learning: register today!


Content provided by Panorama
Jobs October 2021 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Funding Opinion Don’t Plan on That Federal Education Spending Spree
A Democratic spending spree once depicted as inevitable is shrinking before our eyes, meaning big implications for education.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Education Funding Feds Pump $1.5 Billion Extra Toward Schools to Address Cafeteria Food Shortage
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced funds to help schools more easily purchase U.S.-grown foods amid widespread supply shortages.
1 min read
Empty school cafeteria
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Education Funding Letter to the Editor More Money for Schools Isn’t the Answer
The real problem is not funding but demands that teachers do more than just teach their subject, writes Walt Gardner.
1 min read
Education Funding Opinion Manchin Just Downsized the Dems’ Massive Education Spending Plans
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin may have blown a gaping hole in the education community’s hopes for supersized new federal outlays.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty