Commissioners consider Orange County education budget proposals

Published 9:33 pm Tuesday, May 31, 2016


The Orange County Board of Commissioners on May 5 called on the NC General Assembly to “fully fund public education in Local Education Agencies to reflect growth and student needs.”

The board also requested state lawmakers to reinstate K-12 enrollment growth as part of the continuation budget; to reject the trend toward shifting education spending to counties; and to raise additional state revenue in an “equitable fashion” in order to avoid regressive tax shifts to counties.

In the preamble to their resolution, the Orange County commissioners charged that “state and federal elected politicians have failed to follow constitutional and statutory mandates to fully fund public education and public school teachers and disregarded poverty among our public school children.”

They cited that per-pupil spending is below pre-recession levels, that spending in North Carolina in 2014-15 was $8,632 per student (up from $8,620 the year before) compared with $11,841 nationally.

They said teacher pay in North Carolina was 25th in the nation in 2008 but fell to 46th last year.

And they charged that the General Assembly has cut Pre-K services.

Approximately 60 percent of local school funding comes from state sources and the remainder from county and federal sources, the resolution states.

“As the state has abandoned its constitutional obligation to fund our public schools,” the resolution charges, it is “forcing many local government leaders to shoulder more of the burden by increasing property taxes or cutting important programs or services.”

The Orange County resolution was in the Tyrrell commissioners’ May 17 agenda package.

On the same day, county manager David Clegg announced he is recommending that the county provide an increase of $30,000 for school current expenses and $120,000 for school capital expenses in 2016-17 budget.

Tyrrell commissioners took no action on the Orange resolution. Budget workshops are ongoing to ensure a final spending plan is adopted by June 30.