STATE RESPONDS TO REQUEST FOR BUDGET REDUCTIONS
The Honorable Senator Walter Dalton, Senior Chair
The Honorable Senator Linda Garrou, Co-Chair
The Honorable Senator Jeanne Lucas, Co-Chair
The Honorable Representative Flossie Boyd-McIntyre, Co-Chair
The Honorable Representative Gene Rogers, Co-Chair
The Honorable Representative Doug Yongue, Co-Chair
North Carolina General Assembly
300 North Salisbury Street
Raleigh, North Carolina 27603-5925
Dear Education Appropriations Chairs:
In response to your requirement of last Wednesday to identify areas for budget reductions in the NC Public School budget, we are submitting several options for you to consider. However, we must preface these suggestions by saying that such reductions run counter to Governor Easley's promise that services to children would not suffer as the state went about the business of identifying sources to balance the budget. Cuts of this magnitude will stymie the educational progress the state has made since 1995.
At various points in our discussions about the budget shortfall, and when the possibility of budget cuts in the public school budget have been raised, we have repeatedly suggested that DPI and school systems be given the flexibility and the discretion to decide where cuts should be made and where they would least likely affect the classroom, school operations and consequently student achievement. With this in mind, we believe the best approach, if reductions in public school appropriations are necessary, is to provide a targeted amount for reduction and to let LEAs and DPI adjust their budgets appropriately to best suit their circumstances. We believe that superintendents and local boards of education are in the best position to make informed, responsible decisions about where such cuts might be tolerated.
It is particularly troublesome that this request comes at a time in school system budget cycles when school boards have submitted their budget projections for next school year to their county commissioners based on preliminary allotment figures and enrollment projections. County Commissioners are in the process of finalizing their budgets. In addition, school systems are already engaged in contract negotiations with teachers for the next school year. These severe cuts in the state budget will necessitate that commissioners find and commit large amounts of local funds to support school programs and positions or require local school systems to reduce or eliminate positions and/or programs.
In Attachment #1 to this letter we are including a second option for reductions by budget category description as you requested. These reductions will severely impact services to public school students. At a time when our schools are experiencing severe teacher shortages, such cuts will decrease opportunities for professional development for our work force and will have the potential of limiting access to quality leaders and support services that our teachers have told us is so critical to the teaching profession. We urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to please find other ways to fund the states' many needs and to thus continue to encourage and support the progress our students and schools have worked so hard to achieve. This attachment also includes our priorities for expansion that you asked for. Attachment #2 reflects the Alternative ADM Recalculation to the various programs in the State Public School Fund.
While we have made a conscientious effort to identify the specific budget cuts you requested, we do not endorse them, they are not our recommendations, nor are they prioritzed. Rather, the options we have put forth are an attempt to respond to your request. As you wrestle with these very difficult issues please let us know if we can provide additional information.
Michael E. Ward
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Phillip J. Kirk, Jr
Chair, NC State Board of Education
Cc Members of the State Board of Education
About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.
For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.