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

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
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning
Budget & Finance Webinar Staffing Schools After ESSER: What School and District Leaders Need to Know
Join our newsroom for insights on investing in critical student support positions as pandemic funds expire.
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 Achievement Webinar
How can districts build sustainable tutoring models before the money runs out?
District leaders, low on funds, must decide: broad support for all or deep interventions for few? Let's discuss maximizing tutoring resources.
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools

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 When There's More Money for Schools, Is There an 'Objective' Way to Hand It Out?
A fight over the school funding formula in Mississippi is kicking up old debates over how to best target aid.
7 min read
Illustration of many roads and road signs going in different directions with falling money all around.
iStock/Getty
Education Funding Explainer How Can Districts Get More Time to Spend ESSER Dollars? An Explainer
Districts can get up to 14 additional months to spend ESSER dollars on contracts—if their state and the federal government both approve.
4 min read
Illustration of woman turning back hands on clock.
Education Week + iStock / Getty Images Plus Week
Education Funding Education Dept. Sees Small Cut in Funding Package That Averted Government Shutdown
The Education Department will see a reduction even as the funding package provides for small increases to key K-12 programs.
3 min read
President Joe Biden delivers a speech about healthcare at an event in Raleigh, N.C., on March 26, 2024.
President Joe Biden delivers a speech about health care at an event in Raleigh, N.C., on March 26. Biden signed a funding package into law over the weekend that keeps the federal government open through September but includes a slight decrease in the Education Department's budget.
Matt Kelley/AP
Education Funding Biden's Budget Proposes Smaller Bump to Education Spending
The president requested increases to Title I and IDEA, and funding to expand preschool access in his 2025 budget proposal.
7 min read
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on lowering prices for American families during an event at the YMCA Allard Center on March 11, 2024, in Goffstown, N.H.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on lowering prices for American families during an event at the YMCA Allard Center on March 11, 2024, in Goffstown, N.H. Biden's administration released its 2025 budget proposal, which includes a modest spending increase for the Education Department.
Evan Vucci/AP