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History Can Be Painful

A supporter recently told me how surprised and angry she was to learn about the Leandro case.

 

It reminds me that a great deal of the public still doesn’t know the history of the NC legislators’ refusal to adequately fund public education.

 

And that this isn’t just a routine complaint of schools that always want more money. That we are actually facing a man-made, financial crisis in public schools here in North Carolina.

 

This graph from the Reason Foundation ranks states in their growth of funding from 2002 to 2020. Notice North Carolina has the dubious honor of being worst in the nation. In fact it is the only state that actually gave less in 2020 than they did in 2002.




Another shocking statistic is the 2020 per pupil funding from each state.

  • New York:           $30,723

  • Wyoming:           $19,384    

  • South Carolina:  $14,324

  • Georgia:              $13,605  

  • North Carolina:  $10,790

And before you remind me that these numbers are for the year 2020--four years ago--you should know that at today's budget meeting, the School Board was presented a draft budget from the Superintendent that ran about $11,000 per student per year. 

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It’s important to remember that our school districts have no revenue streams. They depend entirely on federal, state and county funding. Beyond our $20M budget shortfall, I need to stress we have massive overcrowding in our schools and some are dilapidated. Just ask Kassie Rempel of the Advocats. Last week the playground at Anderson Elementary was condemned.

 

Our emergency fund balance which might have been used to fix our playground has been depleted over the last many years--at the County Commission's insistence--to balance our budget. 

 

Added to these difficulties are the callous and misleading comments from a County Commissioner who said about the schools last week, “I’m not giving them another dime until they fix the problem.”

 

(WHQR's Ben Schactman posted about the comment on Facebook. find it here.)

 

Without the Covid Relief funds and the emergency fund balance, we simply don't have the money to keep teachers in classrooms (some students already receive online instruction, due to lack of teachers), or to have enough EC teachers and aides to be able to provide federally-mandated support to children with disabilities, or to provide programs for gifted children, or to have both a gym teacher AND a nurse in the same elementary school, or enough bus drivers so students aren’t spending over 3 hours a day riding to and from school. 

 

The "problem" is a serious lack of funding. That New York State pays three times as much per pupil per year says everything about how our State Legislature values our children. 

 

The attitude of at least one County Commissioner that it's our School's fault that we don't have enough money, is naive and insensitive at best. 

 

New Candidates for County Commission

 

I recommend looking into two new candidates for County Commission, Stephanie Walker and Cassidy Santaguida.  Walker is a sitting School Board member and understands full well where the real problem lies.

Stephanie Walker's website: https://www.electstephaniewalker.com/

Follow Cassidy Santaguida on Instagram at @CassidyForNHC

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Still, there is reason for optimism with the tremendous teachers and administrators we have here in New Hanover County. I believe in the Democratic process. I believe that government officials who do not reflect our values eventually get voted out. I believe the will of the people will be heard when we demonstrate the will to be heard.

 

A little good news!

 

Not every wonderful program costs a lot of money. I met with Evan Folds from Soil and Water this week and learned about Sara Dousharm and the Garbage to Gardens (G2G) program where students in selected schools are composting and recycling in the cafeteria. They are learning about the environment, saving vital and limited space in our landfill, and getting compost that they can use in their school gardens. Being a responsible citizen can also be a learning opportunity. Well done!

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Don't lose hope! We can't let difficult times weaken our resolve to provide a great education for EVERY child in a safe and welcoming environment. We can't let our teachers lose hope of making a difference and also making a living.

 

So hug your children or grandchildren and tell a teacher how much you appreciate them today.

 

-Tim

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