Higher taxes could save classrooms

June 4, 2009 9:00:07 AM PDT
Bill Harrison, Chair/CEO NC Board of Education says children in grades K-12 are in jeopardy due to proposed budget cuts in schools."Cuts that are potentially damaging to our state and possibly take us back 20-25 years," Harrison said.

According to Harrison, a big increase in class sizes among the youngest students would be especially damaging.

In NC, classrooms in grades kindergarten through third grade can have no more than 24 students, 29 students in grades four through nine and 32 students in grades ten through twelve.

Harrison admits some class size increases are inevitable, but believes classrooms for the youngest students should be spared.

He suggests lawmakers follow Governor Beverly Perdue's budget plan and raise taxes on tobacco and alcohol.

"I think they need to look seriously at the sin tax," Harrison said.

Budget writers in the NC State House of Representatives may be listening. They have not opened the door to any tax hike until now.

"I'm not sure that we're going to be able to stick to that no tax increase, due to the fact that we don't have any reserves at all," Rep. Mickey Michaux, D-Durham said.

Some parents, like Noelle Thomas, a mother of five, agree with higher sin taxes to spare schools.

"I would raise a tobacco tax before I would raise education," Thomas said.

But Harrison even suggests a sales tax increase for a limited period of time. Without the tax increase, Harrison said student learning will suffer.

Even with his pleas, there is still a push to increase class sizes. Some estimate adding one child to every classroom saves about $160 million a year.


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