Local News

Judge Wants More Money To Go To Poor School Districts

Posted March 30, 2004 5:07 a.m. EST

— A Wake County judge believes the state should give more money to smaller, poorer school districts.

Superior Court Judge Howard Manning ordered that the state should help Hoke County schools to help reverse high turnover rates among teachers and teaching quality. Hoke County schools is one of five poor school systems that sued the state in 1994 over inadequate financing.

"Hoke County was the test county for this case, but the reason that it had so many of the problems common to low-wealth counties all over North Carolina," attorney Bob Spearman, who represents Hoke County and the four other school districts in this case.

Hancock, who represents 70 low-income school districts across the state, believed the decision should apply to the entire state. As a lobbyist, he said he will urge the General Assembly to come up with the money to help all poor counties.

"The quality of a child's school and the chance they have in life should not depend upon where they grow up," attorney Gerry Hancock said. "We can find a way in North Carolina to find the resources that all children need."

School Board Chairman Howard Lee said the state School Board will first need to come up with a plan to offer lawmakers.

"We have an obligation to ensure that every child in this state has access to quality education," he said. "I think the state board will accept this challenge seriously and will work hard to try to get it done as quickly as we can."

The state School Board will meet later in the week to discuss specific ways to help the counties. Lee said it is something they have anticipated and have been talking about for awhile now.

In 2001, North Carolina spent an average of $6,700 on each student. Wake County spent about $6,800. Durham County spent about $8,300 and Orange County and Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools spent between $8,000 and $8,900. In each case, it includes local, state and federal money combined.