Local News

Coalition Claims Lawmakers Aren't Meeting Needs Of Low-Income Schools

Posted June 20, 2006 8:47 a.m. EDT

— The North Carolina constitution requires the state to provide every child with access to a sound basic education. That was the ruling handed down by Superior Court Judge Howard Manning in the Leandro court case.

But a coalition of at least six community organizations claims funding for that education cannot be found in the latest version of the state budget.

"Our legislators could not find it in their hearts to fully invest in our disadvantaged youth," said Zulayka Santiago of El Pueblo.

"We pull out all the stops when we want to save a military base," said North Carolina NAACP president Rev. William Barber. "We pull out all the stops when we want to recruit a business to create jobs. We ought to want to pull out all the stops to ensure we don't fail a generation."

Budget negotiators say they have only a matter of a few days to finalize the state budget and insist there is some funding to address the Leandro ruling.

"There are other things other than low-wealth and the disadvantaged school fund that addresses Leandro also," said Sen. Walter Dalton, D-Rutherford. "I mean, I think the reading coaches is something that will help Leandro schools."

"I realize that there is a need in our low-wealth schools that has needs that Judge Manning has spoken to clearly," said Sen. A.B. Swindell, D-Nash.

But the education coalition believes state lawmakers have yet to address how they are going to fund those improvements. On Tuesday, the coalition filed a briefing with Manning, claiming poor schools don't receive enough funding in next year's budget. The group wants to bring it to his attention.