Local News

Despite Leandro Ruling, Schools Say Funding Not Enough

Posted August 6, 2004

— The state is spending $12 million in Vance, Warren and nine other school districts to narrow the achievement gap. The money will help supplement teacher pay to keep better teachers as well as provide more learning resources for students, but those school systems say the money is not nearly enough.

Janet Lloyd teaches seventh-grade science at Vance County's Eaton-Johnson Middle School. She has made a career of helping students in one of the state's poorest school districts. For the past 24 years, she's seen the gap widen between the haves and the have nots.

"I went to one school and all the children had PalmPilots. Now, that's something we couldn't even dream to have here because we are a low-wealth county," she said.

Vance County is in line to receive more than $2 million from the $12 million slated for low-wealth school districts. Superintendent Norman Shearin plans to use most of the money on teacher pay. He also wants to hire more teachers, so students get more one-on-one help, but there may be a potential snag.

"Right now, our buildings are filed. We've got to go to almost to a tutorial model because we don't have any more classrooms to put them in," Shearin said.

The county school system includes 75-year-old Clark Street Elementary School, which is in serious need of repair, renovation or replacement. That will take money that a poor county will find difficult to raise.

"The Leandro case wants to make sure we abide by the constitutional requirement that every child has a sound, basic education. It's not concerned on when the schools are equal," Shearin said.

Shearin hopes quality teachers will help narrow the gap, but knows this one time supplement will only help for so long.

There is plenty of reaction from newly released

ABC test scores

, especially in low-wealth counties that are getting some help from the state.

Eleven out of Wake County's 25 schools are schools of excellence because 90 percent of their students are at or above grade level. In Vance County, only one out of 15 schools is on that honors list. In Warren County, one of six schools is on the list.

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