The national economy continues to slow and North Carolina is not exempt from the impacts. On October 24th the Office of State Budget and Management issued a revised budget management plan that recommended $1.2 billion in “holdbacks” to ensure the budget is balanced on June 30, 2009. As part of the plan, K-12 schools in North Carolina are being asked to “voluntarily” holdback” $117 million, or 1.5 percent of the $7.8 billion public schools budget. I don’t know what “voluntary” means and I’d be interested in knowing how schools respond to the directive. None of the holdbacks for other state agencies are listed as voluntary.
As might be expected some grousing has begun. While belt tightening is never pleasant, a tour of the country shows many states have it much worse. The current edition of Education Week chronicled the growing list of education and state budget woes from California ($2.5 billion in education cuts) to New York(aid to school districts would be reduced 3 to 10 percent) to Mississippi (twenty school districts face insolvency if forced to make additional cuts). Incredulously, some lawmakers continue to prod Washington to include aid to education as part of an “economic stimulus package.” That's right. Let's tell the schools to line up. Right behind the banks and Detroit.