More money?

Published 9:31 am Thursday, May 31, 2012

RALEIGH — After consecutive years of facing state budgets, Hertford County’s public school system may have some good news for a change.

However, politics may play a role in the decision making process in Raleigh.

In the 2012-13 budget she unveiled last week, Gov. Bev Perdue proposed funds to restore the deep and unnecessary education cuts the Republican-controlled General Assembly passed last year. The Governor is committed to investing in education, and her budget would mean an additional $1,026,832 for K-12 schools in Hertford County next year.

“Superintendents across the state have talked for months about the harm the General Assembly’s education cuts are causing – one even called them ‘a cancer in our budget,’” Gov. Perdue said. “We must return to North Carolina’s historic tradition of investing in education and in our children’s future.”

In last year’s budget, which they passed over Gov. Perdue’s veto, the Republican-controlled General Assembly cut K-12 spending in North Carolina by approximately $459 million, or 5.8 percent. After the General Assembly’s cuts, local schools were forced to eliminate 915 teachers, more than 2,000 teacher assistants, and nearly 5,000 total educators across North Carolina.

As damaging as those cuts have been, schools were shielded from the full impact of those cuts by $258 million of temporary federal “EduJobs” money. The federal EduJobs money enabled North Carolina schools to keep some of the teachers, teacher assistants and other education professionals that would otherwise have been cut.

In Hertford County, K-12 schools received approximately $730,366 in federal EduJobs money during this school year. Those funds supported real jobs—teachers, teacher assistants, and other education personnel—in school buildings across Hertford County. That federal money — which was designed to help states deal with declining revenue associated with the economic downturn — goes away later this year. Therefore, if the General Assembly fails to act to restore the cuts they made last year, the harm to schools — which superintendents are already saying is severe — is going to get even worse.

Statewide, Gov. Perdue’s budget calls for a net increase of more than $562 million in K-12 school funding over what is currently planned for next year. Her budget includes $503 million to restore the LEA flex cut the Republican-controlled General Assembly made last year, as well as other investments, like a small pay increase for teachers (their first in years). By increasing our investment in K-12 schools, Gov. Perdue’s proposal would also prevent the even deeper cuts currently scheduled for 2012-13, and make up for the loss of the EduJobs money. It is estimated that her proposal will save or create approximately 11,000 education positions across North Carolina next year.