Northampton School Board supports Leandro Plan

Published 5:18 pm Friday, April 15, 2022

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JACKSON – Every student should be provided with a sound, basic education.

That’s the core tenet of the “Leandro Plan” which stems from a long-running court case in North Carolina meant to make sure education is sufficient throughout the state.

Northampton County’s Board of Education adopted a resolution at their meeting here on April 11 to urge the state to fulfill its constitutional duty to provide that education.

“At the last meeting, board member Lucy Edwards presented the Leandro resolution for consideration by the board,” explained Dr. Del Burns, Interim Superintendent for Northampton County Schools. “The board agreed it would be appropriate to bring it back formally at this meeting for consideration and approval.”

According to information from EdNC, the Leandro case began in 1994 when five counties – including neighboring Halifax – sued the state with the claims that their students were not getting the education they needed. The case continued for years with the NC Supreme Court eventually ruling that every child has a state constitutional right to a sound, basic education.

Eventually, a comprehensive, multi-year plan (the “Leandro Plan”) was developed to implement recommendations to improve education. The plan called for $1.7 billion for the first two years. This past November, the judge in charge of the case ordered for that money to be allocated from the state’s general fund. But state lawmakers argued that the judge didn’t have the authority to order the legislature to allocate the funding.

The NC General Assembly did include funding in the state’s budget for the next two years, but it fell short of the full $1.7 billion the plan calls for.

With the funding issue unresolved, both parties have continued through the appeals process which is still currently in progress.

The resolution for consideration by Northampton’s Board summarized their position on the Leandro Plan funding.

It reads, in part, “far too many students, particularly students of color, students from economically-disadvantaged families, students with disabilities, English learners, and rural students have been denied the opportunities promised to them under the North Carolina Constitution… Adequate educational opportunities cannot realistically be provided without adequate education funding.”

The resolution concludes by requesting the NC General Assembly to “fully enact the policy and funding reforms included in the Leandro Plan to ensure that all North Carolina students have access to a sound basic education by the 2028 school year.”

Clinton Williams, who was selected by majority vote of the board last month to fill the vacant seat until the end of June, motioned to adopt the resolution. Board member Barbara Stephenson provided the second.

The vote was unanimously in favor among those in attendance. Board member Tony Burnette was unable to attend the meeting.