School Cuts Have Hit Rural North Carolina Hardest
The thousands of public school positions eliminated over the past four years were far from evenly distributed across North Carolina’s 115 school districts.
Cuts hit some school districts especially hard: eight districts eliminated more than one in five local school positions compared to 2008 staffing levels, 24 eliminated more than one in ten teacher positions, and 31 eliminated more than a quarter of teacher-assistant positions.
Although almost all districts report eliminated staff positions, losses were highly concentrated in rural eastern, western, and south-central North Carolina (see map).
Wealthy, middle-income, and poor school districts were all represented among the school districts suffering the largest position losses. In fact, the three districts with the biggest position losses as a share of 2008 levels – Avery, Anson, and Jones – rank among the top, bottom, and middle, respectively, in NC DPI’s Low-Wealth Supplemental Funding formula (see table). What all ten of the hardest-hit school districts have in common, however, is that they are all rural districts.
These findings seem to confirm what we at the NC Budget and Tax Center found in our regional economic analysis of the state budget: state budget cuts have been especially harmful to the rural areas of the state.