What You Need To Know About the NC Education Budget

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With Governor McCrory expected to release his budget this week, EdNC takes a deep dive into the current status of public education funding in North Carolina. They highlight the decrease in per-pupil funding that has accelerated since the Republican takeover in 2010. 

With lawmakers already promising pay raises for new teachers this year, and some urging increases for veteran teachers, it will be interesting to see what the proposed education budgets look like. 

From their article,

As you might anticipate, the changes reflect Republican priorities. You see funding for Sen. Phil Berger’s Excellent Schools Act. You see funding for opportunity scholarships. You see cuts in funding to teacher assistants and the Department of Public Instruction. A nice surprise: A $3.2 million appropriation so students being treated in psychiatric residential treatment facilities can have access to classes while in treatment.

Of course, it is important to note the impact of changes in budget priorities over a longer period of time. Given the growth in our state and student population, we need to watch the state’s portion of the per pupil expenditure, which according to the Department of Public Instruction’s Statistical Profile has decreased from $5,703.70 in 2009 to $5,390.12 in 2014 (current expense expenditures including child nutrition). And, with more money going to benefits and salaries, we need to watch the level of funding available for the classrooms, including instructional materials, teaching assistants, and teachers, as well as transportation. As we analyze the 2015-17 budget, we will be researching longer term trends and impacts of the state’s funding priorities.

North Carolina will be using a base budget instead of a continuation budget going forward.  Historically, the continuation budget included appropriation increases for the public school funding formulas (teachers, instructional supplies, textbooks, instructional support personnel, teacher assistants, etc.) due to projected increases in average daily membership (ADM). As the new statutory base budget excludes appropriation increases for ADM growth, funding for public school enrollment growth is now considered an expansion budget request and has been requested by the State Board of Education along with their other expansion budget priorities. We will need to see how funding for enrollment growth is addressed in the Governor’s 2015-17 budget recommendations and how it is considered in the legislative budget process this session. Here is OSBM’s instructions for preparation of the 2015-17 Recommended State Budget.

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