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Lawyers: NC legislature should redo schools budget

Posted June 23, 2011
Updated June 24, 2011

— Lawyers for North Carolina school districts challenging the nearly $20 billion state budget approved last week want a judge to order the Legislature to redo the spending plan.

Superior Court Judge Howard Manning Jr. adjourned the two-day hearing Thursday without an immediate ruling. He declined to say when his decision would be ready, but the plaintiff's attorneys say they hope it is before the new state budget takes effect on July 1.

Manning is considering whether state officials are following the constitutional requirement that every North Carolina child have the opportunity to a sound, basic education.

Lawyers for school boards in the long-running lawsuit say the state budget taking effect next month fails to meet constitutional obligations. They want Manning to order the Legislature to rewrite parts of the budget.

They also want Manning to issue an immediate injunction to prevent slashing funds at the Pre-K More at Four program and moving it over to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Lawmakers who wrote and passed the budget were not called to testify. Instead, the state's attorney called two state Department of Public Instruction employees who seemed to support the plaintiff's claims.

However, in closing arguments Deputy Attorney General Tom Ziko said claims of targeting education are unfounded. He says the government is living up to its duties despite the worst recession since the 1930s.

The head of the North Carolina association representing school superintendents says the nearly $20 billion state budget approved last week will mean layoffs for thousands of teachers.

Education Lawyers: NC legislature should redo schools budget

North Carolina School Superintendents Association executive director Jim Causby testified Thursday that he agrees with an estimate that the reduced funding and other changes will result in the loss of about 3,500 teaching jobs.

Causby says superintendents are also worried about impending layoffs of assistant principals, which he says are needed to ensure schools are safe and that teacher performance is monitored.

WRAL News asked the state's Republican leaders for comment. Senate leader Phil Berger declined, saying it is not appropriate to comment on pending judicial cases.

House Speaker Thom Tillis released the following statement:

"If Judge Manning wants to vote on the budget, he should run for office as a legislator. While I respect his opinion on judicial matters, it appears that this is an attempt to literally legislate from the bench. I respectfully disagree with his conclusions; our education budget is only 0.5 percent different from the governor’s, and it protects classroom funding, including every teacher and teacher assistant position in the state."

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  • luvdemheels23 Jun 27, 2:10 p.m.

    It is amazing how many people think they are experts on education and have no idea how hard our teachers work and the barriers they have to overcome to teach kids. And just saying we need to hire better teachers or do this or do that with no practical knowledge of what we already have or what can be done shows where the problem may be. ; )

    1) Politicians create ridiculous rules and guidelines for education that do not consider the ramifications. Eg. Extending the school year when cutting a budget? Requiring state test after state test after state test? Teachers' pay not equal to what how valuable they are to society (caring for our kids) 2) Many parents (not all) not being parents and delegating/handing over that role to teachers. "It's your problem." 3) Many kids in this day and age filled with apathy, short attention spans, and numerous problems.

    We still have many great kids and parents But the critical mass is sinking and the rest of the world is passing us.

  • affirmativediversity Jun 24, 1:18 p.m.

    I think its long past time WE, the people, take a serious look at the POWER LAWYERS HAVE GIVEN THEMSELVES...what their role, if any, should be in our society...AND most important what CHECKS AND BALANCES should be put into place (URGENTLY) to stop their "AUTOCRATIC RULE OF OUR NATION FROM THE BENCH"!

  • Mustange Jun 24, 1:11 p.m.

    According to NCEA's own web site, NC teachers average 4,000.00 dollars more a year than their peers across the nation LOL LOL LOL Thats a big load of garbage. Dont believe that one!! They need to prove that lie!! 2009 report shows that when adjusted for pension contributions, teacher experience and cost of living, NC teacher salaries are about $4,000 above the national average and 14th highest in the nation. This was BASED ON A 2009 REPORT.

  • Rebelyell55 Jun 24, 12:18 p.m.

    It a sad state of afairs when Lawyers get involved in what is best for the children of NC. There will be no good come from this and at worse more money wasted.

  • hihuwatlu Jun 24, 11:28 a.m.

    Why shouldn't More at Four be cut. It has been proven that by 3rd or 4th grade, the children who participated in the program are no better off than those who did not. It was a good program to try but it didn't work, so it's time to quit funding it.

  • PanthersFan45 Jun 24, 11:14 a.m.

    This budget fight over education spending isn't going away quietly. Lawyers involved now too ? (another group heavily in the democrats back pocket). Just take it like a man and cut if thats the budget that was passed. I don't agree with all of it and for the first time in years a budget has been passed on time so get over it. Every aspect of government has been cut due to both lean times and the Republicans. Just vote the people out next time if you don't like it. Since it has passed learn to look for waste, I'm sure there is some in there.

  • heavye Jun 24, 10:42 a.m.

    I bet they slide a little teacher bonus in there....

  • too-obvious Jun 24, 10:11 a.m.

    is this for teachers or the children?

  • foghat005 Jun 24, 9:47 a.m.

    Yeah - this is the people (via the legislature) making this decision, not some judge legislating from the bench!

  • Bring on the 4 Dollar Gas Jun 24, 9:17 a.m.

    Doesn't matter what Judge Judy here says, they're not going to change anything just because she says so.

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