County Schools could receive $4 million

Published 5:45 pm Saturday, December 15, 2007

By Staff
Schools may benefit from court ruling
By DAN PARSONS, Staff Writer
A recent Wake County Superior Court ruling could end up benefiting local schools to the tune of millions of dollars.
Superior Court Judge Howard Manning Jr. on Thursday ruled that the state had illegally withheld about $768 million in civil fines and forfeitures that, according to the state constitution, are earmarked for schools.
The money in question was collected by the state from Jan. 1996 until the present and Judge Manning has promised to release it to the schools, according to an article in the Raleigh News and Observer.
The fines owed the schools included those for overweight trucks, penalties for failure to pay taxes and parking tickets issued at state universities, according to the News and Observer.
Manning stopped short of ruling just how and to which schools the money would be allocated, according to Beaufort County Schools Superintendent Jeff Moss.
Moss said he expects the court to further debate the issue in January. If Manning then decides to distribute the money to all of the state’s 117 school districts on a per-student basis, Beaufort County could net about $4 million, based on an average daily enrollment of about 7,250 students. Based on the same calculation, Washington County Schools could get almost $1.3 million and Martin County could get $2.26 million. Hyde County, with about 700 students could get $392,000.
The money would have to be spent on technology, such as new computers and classroom projection systems, according to state law.
The money would be spent on things like installing SMARTboards — electronic, interactive whiteboard — in more classrooms and increasing the schools’ capacity for Internet bandwidth, according to Moss.
The school system tries to update its technology incrementally, usually one at a time for things like SMARTboards and classrooms projectors.
Washington County Schools Superintendent Julius Walker Jr. said the schools under his supervision “could definitely use the funds.”
Walker said with technology constantly changing, the funds would give the school system the ability to “bring our technology up to date and allow us to move forward.”