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It’s that time of year!  The NC Department of Public Instruction has released their annual "Highlights of the North Carolina Public School Budget" publication.  "Highlights" is a compilation of public education finance statistics with a particular focus on state and federal spending.  This week’s CommenTerry includes highlights from the "Highlights," mostly for your convenience and enjoyment.

Bulletin Board

  • Attend. A list of upcoming events sponsored by the John Locke Foundation can be found at the bottom of this newsletter, as well as here.  We look forward to seeing you!
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  • Share. The North Carolina History Project seeks contributors to the North Carolina History Project Encyclopedia. Please contact Dr. Troy Kickler for additional information.
  • Discuss. I would like to invite all readers to submit brief announcements, personal insights, anecdotes, concerns, and observations about the state of education in North Carolina.  I will publish selected submissions in future editions of the newsletter. Requests for anonymity will be honored. For additional information or to send a submission, email Terry at [email protected].
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Every February, the NC Department of Public Instruction publishes "Highlights of the North Carolina Public School Budget."  According to the introduction,

Funding public education in North Carolina is a complex and integrated process. This booklet presents charts and tables which describe how state and federal funds are distributed to North Carolina’s Public Schools. It also reviews the growth in average daily membership (ADM), school personnel, and the effect of Charter Schools.

As the introduction suggests, the document focuses on educational inputs and descriptive statistics.  Test scores, graduation rates, and other outcome measures are not included.  Further, the document has limited information on the use of local funding and school capital expenditures.  Despite these limitations, "Highlights" remains a useful resource for examining trends in education spending.  So here we go.

State School Spending

  • Elementary and secondary school spending consumes 37.3 percent of North Carolina’s General Fund.
  • The NC General Assembly set aside $7.74 billion in state (General Fund) money for public schools this year.  Two years ago, the state spent $7.15 billion.
  • State public school spending has increased for the third consecutive year.

Per Pupil Funding

  • State funding is not distributed to all public school children equally.  State and federal agencies allocate funds based on the needs, circumstances, and grade level of each student. 
  • For example, the state provides $5,919.70 per intellectually and academically gifted student in grades K-3. 
  • On the other hand, a special needs elementary school student with limited English proficiency from a low-income family in a small, low-wealth county will receive $11,720.10 in state funds.
  • Federal funding may add up to $9,884.38 per elementary school student.
  • If you combine state and federal funds, the school of a Limited English Proficient, special needs student from a low-income family living in a small, low-wealth county will receive a total of $21,600 for this child.  This total includes state and federal, but not local, funds.

Compensation of Public School Personnel

  • Approximately 90 percent of state education funding pays the salary and benefits of public school personnel. 
  • For the current school year, teachers on the typical 10-month contract have a base salary range of $30,800 – $68,050. 
  • The average base salary for a teacher is $40,716.  This does not include local salary supplements ($3,726 average), benefits (see below), and other sources of income (e.g., longevity pay or annual leave pay).
  • Base salary ranges for administrators are as follows: assistant principals ($38,280 – $65,170), principals ($51,540 – $110,364), supervisors ($40,188 – $104,268), and superintendents ($57,324 – $138,996).  Again, this does not include local salary supplements, benefits, and other sources of income.
  • Benefits add 7.65 percent for social security, 14.23 percent for retirement, and $5,192 for hospitalization to the base salary for each employee.

Full-Time Personnel

  • Our district schools have 177,149 employees.  Just over half (95,146) of them are teachers.
  • Last year, our district schools employed 175,630 men and women.

Charter Schools

  • Charter school students make up only 3.3 percent of the students (based on Average Daily Membership or ADM) in the state.
  • North Carolina’s 49,000 charter school students and 107 schools receive approximately $255 million in funds from the state budget.
  • Charter schools employ just over 5,000 men and women.  Of those employees, 76 percent are teachers.

Facts and Stats

This week’s CommenTerry contains many facts and stats.  That’s a fact.

Education Acronym of the Week

ADM — Average Daily Membership

Quote of the Week

"In 2012, NC ranked 11th in the Nation and 2nd in the Southeast for the highest percentage of funds from State revenue. The national average was 45.5%. Most other state school systems are primarily funded by locally driven initiatives such as property taxes and local bond issues."

— NC Department of Public Instruction, "Highlights of the North Carolina Public School Budget," February 2013, p. 3.

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