Source: CBS 17
Classrooms across the state, particularly in Wake County schools, are feeling the impact of inadequate investments. For years, state Republicans have failed to pass state budgets that include meaningful investments towards the public school infrastructure – leading to numerous school districts facing out of date facilities.
Just a few weeks into the latest school year, students from Wake County schools were sent home early due to air conditioning issues.
According to CBS 17, Apex Friendship High School, Knightdale High School and Willow Spring High School all have had HVAC issues – resulting in schools sending students home early.
Schools suffering from out-dated facilities and infrastructure is not new. For years, educators, students, and families have raised concerns over the state of public schools.
According to the NC Justice Center, rounds of tax cuts passed by the Republican-led General Assembly since 2013 have reduced state revenues by approximately $3.6 billion a year. The state has faced a massive backlog for school building investments for decades – ultimately increasing the number of school construction and repairs across the state.
A 2020-21 Five-Year K-12 Facility Needs Report found that HVAC upgrades were the single largest need for schools across the state.
CBS 17 reports that the survey identified total facility needs over a five-year period of nearly $12.8 billion. That total includes more than $5.6 billion in renovation needs, additional buildings, equipment, and land for new schools over the next five years.
In addition, schools have reported over $1.3 billion in plumbing, HVAC, and electrical needs, with Wake County Public schools citing the largest need out of other schools districts statewide.
The state’s largest school district estimates about $956 million for renovation projects over the next five years.
Advocates, state Democrats and Governor Roy Cooper has called for state Republicans to pass a state budget that will address many of these longstanding issues; urging the implementation of the Leandro Remedial Plan.
The Leandro plan lays out a blueprint for where adequate investments must be made such as improving infrastructure, teacher pay, expanding access to educational programs and services, early learning opportunities and more.
Despite educators, parents, advocates, and education experts sounding the alarm around the impact of long-term neglect of public schools, outdated facilities, teaching shortages and increased student mental health challenges, state Republicans have refused to fund the full plan.
“We should ask ourselves, why are they fighting this hard to keep those dollars away from our kids?” asked Angus Thompson, one of the original Leandro case plaintiffs. “We have the money, we have the comprehensive plan and every parent in our state will tell you that we also have the need. I call on every decent North Carolinian who still believes our children are worth fighting for to stand up against this latest attack against them.”