The State Board of Education plans to go its own way in crafting a budget request for North Carolinas public schools for the next two years.
State budget officials directed the Department of Public Instruction, like other state agencies, to come up with a couple of budget scenarios for the states public schools for the next biennium one with a 2 percent increase, one with a 2 percent decrease.
On Thursday, the State Board of Education expressed its distaste for either scenario. The board is likely to put forth a third option, its preference, when it votes on a budget later this fall.
Members said they couldnt figure out how to cut $150 million, the equivalent of 2 percent, after several years of sizable reductions.
What part of this vision do I not want? asked the boards vice chairman, Wayne McDevitt. I cant find it yet. What part of this vision do our kids not deserve? I cant find it.
He suggested the board figure out what it takes to address the real needs of the schools, and present that to the legislature next year.
The board held a two-day planning session this week, where they heard from local school leaders worried about growing class sizes and the loss of federal dollars in 2014 from the Race to the Top grant, which has funded professional development for teachers learning the new Common Core curriculum.
The board may present the two options requested by state budget officials, plus the preferred, more expensive plan. There are legal obligations, and there are moral obligations, said Bill Harrison, state board chairman. I think the moral outweighs the legal.
Also on Thursday, the State Board passed a vision statement for public education in North Carolina. It said in part that charter schools, innovative high schools and virtual schools have a legitimate claim on public funds because they advance the overall education system, but must be accessible to all students and held to the same high standards of academic, fiscal and other forms of accountability as traditional public schools.
It further says if public funds are to be made available to private education in the form of vouchers and tax credits, then private and religious schools receiving that money would need to be incorporated far more explicitly into the public school system.
Dalton happy with debate
Democratic candidate Walter Dalton said Thursday that he felt good about his first televised debate with Republican Pat McCrory.
People know his name, but I dont think they know his policies, Dalton said at a news conference to unveil his education plan at Wake Medical center. Last night I think I was able to put him on the defensive. I think I was able to expose his record.
Dalton, who is lieutenant governor, said he still had time to make up a double-digit deficit in the polls.
A new Rasmussen Poll released Thursday found McCrory leading by 54 percent to 38 percent.
Ervin gets Sierra Club nod
The N.C. chapter of the Sierra Club has waded into unusual territory with its endorsement of state appellate court Judge Sam Ervin IV for N.C. Supreme Court.
Its the first time the environmental organization has endorsed a candidate running for the states highest court.
The nod is based on his decisions on the bench and while serving for 10 years on the N.C. Utilities Commission. The Sierra Club lauds him for his role in implementing the Clean Smokestacks Act and the states Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, while on the commission.
The group singled out one opinion he wrote as a judge on the Court of Appeals: Ervin dissented in a ruling that held that the states sedimentation-control law didnt apply because sediment didnt reach nearby water. A golf course owner had sued a construction company over its work that altered the landscape.
Judge Ervin has a record of giving appropriate consideration to environmental impacts when making decisions, Sierra Club political chairman Ken Brame said in a statement released Thursday. Judge Ervin consistently demonstrated an appreciation of the impact his rulings have on the states natural resources.
Ervin is running against incumbent Justice Paul Newby.
Staff writers Jane Stancill, Rob Christensen and Craig Jarvis
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