NC Policy Watch: As new school year commences, shortage of basic supplies demonstrates legislature’s failure to invest

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Thanks to politicians in Raleigh who continue to give tax breaks to corporations, funding for classroom supplies has dropped over 50%. This year parents and teachers are spending hundreds to provide essentials. Classrooms are lacking even basic items like chairs, paper towels, and bathroom soap. This is a disgrace!  Children in North Carolina deserve a quality education, teachers deserve the support to provide it.

From NC Policy Watch

Per-student funding for supplies and materials is less than half of the amount provided in the 2009-10 school year. In current-dollar terms, the state provided funding of $68 per student in the 2009-10 school year, compared to just $31 per student for this school year.

Even when North Carolina was spending $68 per student in school supplies, the funding level was far below the levels recommended by national school funding experts. For example, a 2016 expert panel in Maryland recommended funding supplies and materials at $100 per-student for elementary schools and $115 per student at the middle and high school levels, with additional amounts for at-risk students and students with limited English proficiency. A Washington, DC study recommended providing $225 per student for supplies in middle and high schools.

The situation is equally dire when one adds text books to the equation. As far back as 2006, a study from Washington state recommended combined supplies/textbook funding of $140 per student in elementary and middle schools, and $175 per student in high schools. Current-year funding in North Carolina for those activities is just $78 per student, about half the level recommended in a similar state a decade ago!

North Carolina’s own spending patterns also reveal that current funding levels are inadequate. Despite the state being fully-responsible for all public school operating costs, the state covered just 24 percent of supplies and materials spending in the 2015-16 school year.

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