NC school funding impacts student success: 'All of our students are hurting'

Bianca Holman Image
Thursday, February 29, 2024
Local school funding impacts student success
The Public School Forum of North Carolina released a new finance report to shed light on how local counties compare to each other.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Many educational advocates believe preparation to solve future problems starts in the classroom.

The Public School Forum of North Carolina released it's local school finance study, which dives into how each county and district compare to each other when it comes to money for kids.

"We can't half do education at this particular point in human history," said William Jackson of Village of Wisdom. "And so the viable ability of the human race really does lie in our ability to educate our kids."

Jackson is a husband and father of two who sees the long-term impact of educational funding. He leads "Village of Wisdom" which helps create more educational opportunities for black and brown students.

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Jackson said school funding makes a big difference.

"All of our students are hurting," he said. "But I think it's really, really important that folks understand that this is going to be a cross race issue in our state, legislators not doing their job when it comes to funding our schools."

One takeaway from the report was that on average the ten wealthiest counties spent nearly $4,000 per student compared to the 10 poor counties that spent less than $1,000.

"This is actually despite the fact that those ten poorest counties are actually taxing themselves at almost double the rate," said Elizabeth Paul, Research Manager with Public School Forum of North Carolina. "However, because of the disparities in the like tax based on real estate wealth, the revenue that they're able to generate is still substantially lower than what the wealthier counties are able to generate."

Two other big points were teacher pay and teacher retention.

The organization says while the state provides a base salary, local counties provide additional money to attract and retain teachers. For example, during the 2021- 22 school year Wake County's local supplement was more than $8,000 but 60 miles east in Green County it was only $1,000.

"If I'm a teacher and I'm moving to this area or I'm just graduating from college in this area and I'm looking at where I want to teach, I'm probably going to be a lot more attracted to a county that's able to offer me an additional $8,000," said Paul.

Paul said all these factors impact students' ability to be successful.

"So a wealthier school district has the funding and they're able to offer more advanced coursework, whereas a lower... more rural districts, if they don't have a teacher in the classroom to teach the AP calculus, for example, then those students aren't being exposed to or don't have the opportunity to take that coursework," said Paul.

Paul and Jackson agree that local leaders are doing what they can with the decisions that are being made in the Capitol.

"But what I want you to think about is who is your state representative? And did they vote to put more money in your school district or not," said Jackson.