There’s no denying that schools in North Carolina are woefully underfunded; in the past few months, the news in North Carolina has been dominated by stories of crumbling schools, underpaid and overworked teachers, bus driver shortages, and limited classroom supplies.
With such glaring signs that our public schools need more funding, it’s understandably been hard for many of us in North Carolina to watch the Leandro court decision be drawn out, delayed, and debated, when it is the solution to so many of the problems currently wreaking havoc on our schools.
The most recent update in the case issued by Judge Michael Robinson affirmed that North Carolina is underfunded; in fact, Robinson found that the state of North Carolina still owes its public schools roughly $785 million. He said that the state must fund the rest of the Leandro plan, however the Republican Judge offered no way to do so.
Implementing and fully funding the Leandro plan would no doubt help solve some of the most pressing issues in NC public schools. Every County in the state would receive additional funding in order to provide all NC public school students with a sound, basic education.
In Vance County, implementing the Leandro plan would bring drastic improvements to the funding the county receives. Currently, Vance County receives $4.3 million for children with disabilities – under the Leandro plan, that amount would increase to $5.2 million. For at-risk and disadvantaged children, Vance County currently only receives $3.6 million, but with Leandro would increase to $10.3 million. The Leandro plan would also provide additional funding for supplies and resources, additional personnel, and much more; in total, Vance County alone would receive $16.3 million more than they are now.
Jameel Williams, an instructional assistant and bus driver in Vance County has spent 34 years in the public education system, and has witnessed first-hand just how much his county needs the funding that would come with Leandro. Williams has cited the need for better high-speed internet, books and technology, and a need for a variety of more workers; counselors, social workers, school psychologists, teachers, custodians, food service workers, and bus drivers. All, Williams said, are in great demand and could be easily provided if Republican lawmakers would invest more in public schools.
Williams stated that, “Our state has the money to ensure that every student has a quality public education. The economy is strong, so there is no excuse for all schools not to be on an equal footing.” He went on to point out that, “North Carolina has billions of dollars in unused revenue, but Republican legislators refuse to prioritize our children. Poll after poll shows that the citizens of this state support public education, and it’s time we put our money where our mouth is!”
Put simply, Williams is right. Which means the question needs to be asked, why are our Republican legislators neglecting our public schools? When will the parents, students, teachers, and school staff receive the funding they need?
Four seats on the Vance County Board of Education will be up for election on Nov. 8. For more information on how and where to vote, visit the Vance County Board of Elections website.