In the Raleigh News and Observer this morning, North Carolina education policy experts Helen Ladd and Edward Fiske review a significant change the General Assembly made to education funding and school growth. 

In a last-minute change that was taken with no hearings and no prior publicity, the Republican-controlled General Assembly has undermined the fundamental building block of school finance in North Carolina.

Ever since the state took over responsibility from the local districts for funding public schools during the Great Depression, state funding in North Carolina has been based on the number of students served. When a local district’s school rolls increased or decreased, the state would adjust the funding up or down accordingly, using a variety of formulas, all of them driven by the number of students.

Under legislation enacted last month, the legislature has scrapped this system. From now on, every spring the state will make an initial commitment of state funds to districts for the following year based on the number of students currently enrolled rather than, as in the past, on their projected enrollments. In other words, districts with growing enrollments will no longer be guaranteed an increase in per pupil funds to cover the costs of educating the additional students.

Any additional funds will have to be negotiated as part of the legislature’s more general budgetary process later in the year.

Click here to read the full op-ed. 

Click here to read Think's recent interview with Helen Ladd.