Local News

Person County Schools React To Low-Wealth Ruling

Posted April 5, 2002

— On Thursday, a judge criticized the state for not paying enough attention to problems in rural, poor school districts. WRAL went to one of those districts in Person County to see how a school there compares to its bigger city neighbors.

South Elementary School in Person County looks good. It just got air conditoning last year and a new wing, but upon further inspection, it still need major renovations.

Person County, like many rural areas, is considered a low-wealth school district. At South Elementary School, 76 percent of the students are at or below the poverty level, but in terms of the money spent per student, rural Person County is not much different than urban Wake County.

Out of 117 school districts in the state, Wake County ranks 71st in terms of the money it spends per student at $6,224. Person County ranks 76th and spends $5,775 per student.

"You can't always compare education dollars and cents. It's what goes on in the building," principal Cindy Zook said.

Person County is being forced to cut its school budget almost $800,000. The local economy is not helping either. The county has an 8 percent unemployment rate and five major businesses have closed in the past three years.

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