by Dr. Terry Stoops
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
I have read numerous social media posts by teachers who contend that the May 16 walkout is about more than just teacher pay. They argue that school facilities are in disrepair and want the N.C. General Assembly (NCGA) to do something about it.
Certainly, there are things that the NCGA can do. For example, they can authorize a bond referendum for a statewide school facilities bond. A coalition of groups has asked the legislature to put a $1.9 billion bond on the November ballot. Lawmakers could also tinker with lottery funds to ensure that more facilities dollars reach districts. Finally, the NCGA could strengthen public/private partnerships, which would permit more private resources to be used for school buildings.
But the responsibility for facilities falls to the county commissions, not the state. According to Highlights of the N.C. Public School Budget 2018,
Historically, the state of North Carolina has provided funding for salaries and operations to the local school systems and the local units have been responsible for providing facilities. The state had a School Facilities Appropriation in 1949 and has passed state school bonds in 1949, 1953, 1963, 1973, and 1996.
General Statute 115C-408 (b) specifies, “It is the policy of the State of North Carolina that the facilities requirements for a public education system will be met by county governments.”
Of the $764.3 million spent on capital outlays in 2017, 96 percent came from local funding sources (Highlights 2018, p. 27).
If you are coming to Raleigh on May 16 to complain about school facilities, you’ll be in the wrong place.