Education Funding

Hard-Fought Budget in N.C. Leaves Schools Better Off Than Feared

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — October 03, 2001 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

After months of wrangling over how to head off a fiscal crisis that educators feared could hobble the state’s school improvement efforts, North Carolina’s governor last week signed off on tax hikes that will allow the state to boost education spending and provide money for several new initiatives.

The general fund budget of $29.15 billion signed last week includes $11.8 billion for education over two years. It capped off the longest legislative session in state history. With the state facing a nearly $1 billion deficit, the biennial budget was the first significant test of lawmakers’ commitment to sustaining the state’s 5-year-old accountability plan, begun during the state’s economic boom.

“With this budget, North Carolina gives our children—all of our children—every opportunity to succeed,” Gov. Michael F. Easley said upon signing the budget Sept. 26. “North Carolina sent a clear message to the nation that our state will take care of its people, in good times and bad.”

Education advocates had been closely following dueling budget proposals for months. They worried that lawmakers would opt to balance the budget through spending cuts to education, which was the primary beneficiary of state budget surpluses throughout the late 1990s. The fear was that the state’s accountability program would have the legs knocked out from under it.

“For anyone involved in education this has been a real nail-biter,” said John N. Dornan, the executive director of the Public School Forum of North Carolina, a nonprofit research organization in Raleigh.

Under the ABCs for Public Education law passed in 1996, schools and teachers earn financial rewards based on students’ test scores. The Excellent Schools Act, approved in 1997, has raised teacher salaries by rates of up to 8 percent each year since then.

The approved budget includes a nearly 3 percent salary increase for teachers and administrators—much lower than officials had hoped but significantly more than the $650 across-the-board raises afforded all state employees—and $93 million for bonuses to teachers and staff members in schools that raise student achievement.

Programs Preserved

Gov. Easley, a Democrat, scored victories in getting Democratic lawmakers’ support for initiatives he championed during his election campaign last year. The budget includes $6.4 million annually to start a preschool program for 4-year-olds at risk of academic failure. Some $12 million in fiscal 2002, and $26 million in fiscal 2003, will go toward reducing kindergarten class sizes throughout the state to 19 students.

Under the budget, an extra $8 million each year will pay for lowering student-teacher ratios in kindergarten, elementary, and high school classes in chronically low-performing schools. Mathematics, science, and special education teachers who choose to work in low-performing schools will be eligible for $1,800 more in annual pay. And the school year will be extended by five days in the lowest-achieving schools.

The additional revenues will come from a half cent sales-tax hike, and an income-tax increase of half a percent for the state’s wealthiest residents.

Still, the department of public instruction will lose nearly $4 million for administration, under the budget, and funds for regional support centers around the state will be cut by $3.7 million.

Related Tags:

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


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.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
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.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson
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.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere

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 Reported Essay Are We Asking Schools to Do Too Much?
Schools are increasingly being saddled with new responsibilities. At what point do we decide they are being overwhelmed?
5 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Education Funding Interactive Look Up How Much COVID Relief Aid Your School District is Getting
The federal government gave schools more than $190 billion to help them recover from the pandemic. But the money was not distributed evenly.
2 min read
Education Funding Explainer Everything You Need to Know About Schools and COVID Relief Funds
How much did your district get in pandemic emergency aid? When must the money be spent? Is there more on the way? EdWeek has the answers.
11 min read
090221 Stimulus Masks AP BS
Dezirae Espinoza wears a face mask while holding a tube of cleaning wipes as she waits to enter Garden Place Elementary School in Denver for the first day of in-class learning since the start of the pandemic.
David Zalubowski/AP
Education Funding Why Dems' $82 Billion Proposal for School Buildings Still Isn't Enough
Two new reports highlight the severe disrepair the nation's school infrastructure is in and the crushing district debt the lack of federal and state investment has caused.
4 min read
Founded 55 years ago, Foust Elementary received its latest update 12-25 years ago for their HVAC units. If the school receives funds from the Guilford County Schools bond allocation, they will expand classrooms from the back of the building.
Community members in Guilford, N.C. last week protested the lack of new funding to improve the district's crumbling school facilities.
Abby Gibbs/News & Record via AP