Fifty-three percent of North Carolina’s $21.3 billion FY 2008-09 state budget is devoted to funding education programs. The FY08-09 state budget provides $11.4 billion, for K-12 schools ($7.8 billion), community colleges ($933 million) and the University of North Carolina system ($2.6 billion). Despite the economic slowdown, total education spending in North Carolina still increased 1.2 percent. The new state budget also adds $154 million in new education spending, includes $523 million in non-voter approved state debt for the UNC system, $200 million for teacher raises and provides millions more for new programs and program expansions.
EDUCATION BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS:
Transportation Fuel: Provides $35million in funds to Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to respond to the escalation in gas prices.
Disadvantaged Student Funding (DSSF): In addition to the $70 million allocated in the base budget, another $6 million in DSSF funds is added to meet growing needs of LEA target populations.
Children with Disabilities: Increases funding ($6.2 million) for children with disabilities. Raises per student funding by $36 per student.
UNC Enrollment Growth Funding: Provides $34.6 million to UNC system to meet projected needs of 8,000 additional students.
Community College Enrollment Growth: Provides $24 million to community colleges to fully fund enrollment growth in curriculum (4.1 percent increase, 6,119 FTE), continuing education (1.2 percent increase, 288) and basic skills programs (.3 percent increase, 48).
EDUCATION BUDGET: AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Class Size-Reduction: Transfers $19.7 million from Lottery Reserve Fund to maintain K-3 student/teacher ratio. North Carolina has spent hundreds of millions to reduce class size. There is no study that conclusively shows smaller class size improves academic performance.
More at Four: Provides an additional $30 million ($170 million total) to allow program expansion. Per student costs for More at Four have risen steadily since the program’s inception. The state now pays $4,450 per student, but the program lacks evidence of credible benefits.
ABC Bonuses: Includes $90 million in ABC bonuses for schools that meet or exceed expected growth targets on state tests. Tying teacher bonuses to school performance and not individual performance undermines the concept of merit pay. Also, the bonuses link millions in teacher awards to a testing system that the Blue Ribbon Commission on Testing and Accountability concluded had too many tests, was unreliable and not sufficiently rigorous.
Teacher Mentoring: Provides $6.2 million in additional funds for mentoring program for first and second year teachers. As top teachers will be recruited to serve as mentors, in many areas, the program may only exacerbate existing teacher shortages.
Dropout Prevention: Failed to pass meaningful legislation to address the dropout rates (SB 1322, HB 1790) or to develop new ninth grade transition programs aimed at keeping troubled teens in school (79 percent of N.C. voters support developing ninth grade transition programs to improve the dropout rate, Civitas Institute, DecsionMaker Poll, January 2008).
Certificates of Participation (COPs): Authorizes UNC to borrow $523 million in special indebtedness (COPs) financing for UNC building projects. COPs do not require voter-approval. Since 2000, UNC been authorized to issue $1.07 billion in capital projects using COPs.
- Teacher Salaries: Teachers and support personnel receive 3 percent salary increase ($200 million), with slightly higher increases going to beginning and new teachers.
- Teacher Leave: Approves $5 million for Teacher Leave. Provides teachers and media specialists with one personal leave day per year, without penalty. Previously, $50 was deducted from teachers’ wages to help cover the cost of hiring a substitute teacher. Leave days can not be requested on regular school or testing days and must be authorized by the teacher’s supervisor
- NCCCS and UNC Faculty: Provides 3 percent salary increases for community college and university faculty and staff.
EDUCATION APPROPRIATIONS: TRENDS 2000-2008
- General Fund appropriations for education (K-12, UNC and community colleges) have risen 46 percent.
- UNC enrollment has increased 32 percent, appropriations have risen 59 percent
- Community College enrollment has increased 29 percent, appropriations are up 58 percent
- K-12 appropriations increased 42 percent, K-12 ADM enrollment increased only 16 percent.
- Since 2000, K-12 enrollment has increased an average of 1.9 percent per year. K -12 state appropriations have increased an average of 4.8 percent per year.
Source: Department of Public Instruction and Overview: 2006 Legislative Session Fiscal and Budgetary Actions, Fiscal Research Division of North Carolina General Assembly. Note: State appropriations for K-12 education in
1UNC 2008 fall enrollment estimate provided by UNC Office of Institutional Research.
2North Carolina Community College 2008 fall enrollment estimate provided by the NCCCS Office of Public Affairs.