Education in North Carolina is seriously underfunded according to a report by an independent consulting group that was hired as part of the 25-year-old Leandro lawsuit.
In 1994, a number of rural school districts sued the state arguing that the state didn’t provide adequate funding to educate their students on par with students from wealthier counties. In 1997, the state Supreme Court ruled that according to the North Carolina Constitution every child in the state had a right to a “sound basic education.”
The report from WestEnd, a nonprofit education consulting firm, is a result of an agreement by the parties involved in the lawsuit to hire an independent third party to determine whether the current state funding was adequate.
According to the report from WestEnd released to the public on Tuesday, Dec. 10, the state needs to increase funding by $8 billion over the next eight years to meet the goal of providing “sound basic education” for every child in North Carolina.
It’s a 300-page report that doesn’t lack for details on current spending and what future spending is necessary. The report states that North Carolina spends $8.6 billion a year on early childhood and K-12 education, and counties kick in another $3.9 billion a year. So according to the report the state needs to increase its education funding by about 12 percent or $1 billion a year. The state budget is about $24 billion, so adding $1 billion for education funding each year would be no small feat.
The WestEnd report recommends that the state invest an additional $1.2 billion in early childhood education and $3.7 billion in K-12 education over the next eight years.
One of the multitude of recommendations is that by 2026 the state have universal full-day, full-year pre-K classes.