Note: Updated April 30th, 4:37 PM, to reflect additional school closures.
On May 1st, the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) will host a protest at the state legislative building. Branded as rally for public education, the event has all the indicators of a socialist-tied labor movement strike. At least 33 traditional school districts and 2 charter schools have announced school closures for the day. Forty-two school districts closed their doors for last year’s similar rally.
The actions of public employees have consequences for all North Carolina taxpayers. So, what is the cost of closing down school districts for an instructional day?
Because of all the revenue and spending streams, exact estimates are difficult to come by. However, a ball park estimate of the costs can be derived by dividing the total cost of operation by the number of instructional days (180). This will give us the cost of one day of instruction.
For the 33 school districts that have closed so far, the approximate cost is over $43 million.
While this is not a perfect estimation, it serves as a reminder that there is a significant cost to taxpayers for schools closing due to the NCAE protest. But there are other costs of the school closures, as well – financial and otherwise.
Some hourly school employees may lose pay due to the shutdown. Parents or caretakers may be forced to miss work to provide unanticipated childcare.
Students lose a day of instructional time in the classroom. Mere weeks before many end-of-grade or semester tests, the closures will cost students and teachers much-needed review time. Holding the rally on a Wednesday, the middle of the school week, nearly ensures that the rest of the week will be more difficult for teachers and students, thrown off of their routines. This date was decided even after many school districts in the eastern part of the state lost days or weeks of classes due to Hurricane Florence last fall. State Superintendent Mark Johnson called for the event to held on a non-school day, but his requests were ignored.
While some costs of school closures fall on all North Carolina taxpayers, many costs fall squarely on the shoulders of students, families, and teachers – the very populations that the rally’s organizers should be working to support.
Teachers, as individual public employees, have the right to lobby the legislature (or their local school boards) for changes that they would like to see in their classrooms. In fact, they should be encouraged to do so. As the boots-on-the-ground workers in our publicly funded education system, teachers are some of the best equipped to inform the policymaking process.
But if you ask the average teacher what his or her policy priority list would be, it is probably a lot different than the progressive agenda being pushed by the ever-Left-moving NCAE. Although we all know that a vast majority of teachers prioritize their students’ success, the NCAE’s policy proposals are directed more on increasing staff and building budgets and less so on provisions that would directly benefit students.
Students, families, teachers, and taxpayers are left to pay the cost.
 NC Department of Public Instruction Statistical Profile online; table A7, year 2018, source total. Total expenditures divided by the number of instructional days (180) to derive approximate cost per day.