by Dr. Terry Stoops
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
In his latest fundraising solicitation, NC Sen. Sam Searcy (D-Wake) writes,
Republicans have created an unfair and unequal system for financing public education, forcing counties to raise property taxes to pay for schools. As a result, education funding varies significantly between rural and suburban counties.
First, the Republicans did not “create” our system for financing public education. It is mostly the product of tinkering by Democratic lawmakers and state education leaders.
Second, the state has compelled counties to cover capital expenses for schools long before the election of a Republican majority in the legislature. On the other hand, much of the operating funds come from the General Assembly. The state pays for around two-thirds of the cost of public education. That is a significantly higher share than other states, which rely much more on property taxes than North Carolina does.
Third, our school finance system, while flawed, distributes additional education dollars to counties that have a weak property and sales tax base. Thus, education funding varies significantly between rural and suburban counties, usually in favor of rural counties.
Here is the list of the 10 school districts with the highest per-student expenditures in 2019:
|District||Total Per Pupil Expenditure|
|Hyde County Schools||$19,409.45|
|Weldon City Schools||15,655.32|
|Northampton County Schools||15,335.21|
|Tyrrell County Schools||15,093.55|
|Pamlico County Schools||14,957.27|
|Jones County Schools||14,914.28|
|Halifax County Schools||14,882.95|
|Washington County Schools||14,363.49|
|Warren County Schools||13,951.90|
|Graham County Schools||13,490.92|