As the school year begins, we’ve paused to reflect on state budget actions taken on K-12 education this year that will affect what children across North Carolina find – and don’t find – when they return to their classrooms next week. To a large extent, many of the key elements that will shape these children’s educational experience over the next 9 months will be a result of what was provided by the state’s public education budget – and what was taken away.
First and foremost, all remaining federal EduJobs money must be expended by the end of next month. These funds employed 5,449 school personnel as of December 2011, as reported by the Department of Public Instruction here. DPI’s Recovery Act funding tracker shows approximately $34 million remaining as of June 29th, but since these numbers are both unaudited and missing data for the months of July and August, it’s likely the state’s $297 total award has been almost entirely expended on schedule. State lawmakers did not “fill in” the schools’ funding gap resulting from the expiration of these funds. However, they did reduce the large, recurring state cut to public education called the LEA Adjustment by $143.3 million in this year’s budget, to about $360 million – down from its budgeted increase to $503 million. The total “flexibility” cut now stands at about $55 million deeper it was three years ago, in FY2010-11. DPI has helpfully provided an estimate of what this particular cut means on a district-by-district basis, which is available here. Read more