FRANKLINTON, N.C. — This week, $10 million was allocated to poor school districts in North Carolina. Now, administrators have to figure out how to spend the money and they do not have much time.
The money stems from the Leandro lawsuit. In 2002, Judge Howard Manning ruled that every child in North Carolina has the constitutional right to a sound and basic education. In July 2004, the state Supreme Court affirmed the ruling.
Franklin County is one of 16 counties included in the Leandro case pilot program. Franklinton Elementary principal Linda Frederickson said poorer schools like hers often receive a lot of federal money for materials, but she said the schools desperately need better strategies for keeping teachers.
"The biggest challenge is just our location. We're right on the U.S. 1 corridor. You can go six or seven miles south and make thousands of dollars more," Fredrickson said.
Teacher Kathy Brown said she has had offers and she has had colleagues take them.
"It is tempting to go to a county where the supplement is higher," she said.
Frederickson hopes the Leandro money will help retain teachers because she has to hire five to 10 new staff members every year. She has already fired off an e-mail to her superintendent with suggestions on how to make the settlement work for Franklin County schools.
Payments will vary from county to county. The Leandro case could ultimately result in $220 million for poorer districts.
Franklin County's superintendent said he does not have specifics for his plan yet, but officials will be working on them. Plans are due in November and money could reach the school districts by the first of the year.