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Senate budget proposal cuts core services in public education

Funding for teachers, textbooks and school buses are just some of the areas that Senate lawmakers are choosing to cut from public education in North Carolina, according to the Senate budget proposal submitted Sunday night.

SB 402, the Appropriations Act of 2013, would appropriate $7,849,691,842 for 2013-14 and $8,032,588,328 for 2014-15.

While these amounts reflect an increase over what is currently spent on public education, they fall short of what would be necessary to fund current levels of programming. The budget would appropriate roughly $135 million less than what is necessary to provide current services in 2013-14 and $79 million less in 2014-15. The Senate budget also includes more than $700 million in tax cuts.

These cuts come on top of the previous biennium’s $1 billion in spending reductions to public education.

The Senate proposal does eliminate the $376 million “LEA adjustment,” also known as discretionary cuts, which require school districts to make hard funding decisions and then send money back to the state. However, that elimination is substantially offset by more specific cuts to classroom teacher allotments, instructional support personnel and instructional supplies. Those cuts amount to $310,342,910 for 2013-14 and $270,456,519 for 2014-15.

Student-teacher funding ratios go up from kindergarten through 12th grade as a result, and the cuts to instructional supplies are in addition to massive cuts to textbooks and supplies over the past several years.

Other reductions in spending include:

  • Teacher assistants: cuts total $142,329,582 in 2013-14 and $149,188,180 in 2014-15, amounting to 6,800 lost teaching assistant positions in 2013-14 and 7,100 lost positions in 2014-15
  • Pre-kindergarten: cuts 2,500 slots in 2013-14 and 5,000 slots in 2014-15 in addition to the 5,000 slots that will be lost due to the expiration of Governor Perdue’s executive order, totaling 17,500 lost Pre-K slots over two years.
  • School bus replacement: changes current policy to require school buses to be replaced after 250,000 miles of service, instead of 200,000 miles. Funding is cut 42% this year, on top of huge cuts in the 2011 budget.
  • Funding for limited English proficiency (LEP) students: reduced by $6,000,000.
  • Average salaries for certified personnel: cut by $11,873,083 because actual salaries are less than projected. The reason? Mass exodus of experienced teachers.

Credit for analysis of the Senate budget proposal goes to the Matt Ellinwood, policy analyst for the N.C. Justice Center’s Education and Law project.

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