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NC Budget Limbo Makes It Hard For Schools To Plan


The North Carolina House and Senate are far apart on their education budgets. State lawmakers have bought themselves another 45 days to come up with a state budget. But school districts have to start planning now for next school year and the uncertainty is making it hard. 

We’ve been here before. In 2013, lawmakers gave themselves a 30 day extension to settle on a budget. 

“Yeah, you’d think we would’ve figured this out by now, but we haven’t,” sighs

Representative Craig Horn of Union County. 

This time lawmakers gave themselves even more time. 

“We’ll certainly move within that 45 days and I would hope that we move within 30 days. We just need to sit down and work through this,” says Horn.

That won’t happen next week, since lawmakers are on break then.

Horn is a House Education committee chairman. He knows an extension that long is a tight deadline for school administrators planning the new school year.

“That would be 9 days before school starts,” says Jason Van Heukelum, Deputy Superintendent of Cabarrus County Schools.

The House budget wouldn’t mean big changes for the district, but the Senate budget would.

“If we’re asked to decrease class size for the 2015-16 school year, you’re going to have every district in the state scrambling to hire more teachers at the very last minute. To say that’s a challenge would be an understatement,” says Van Heukelum.   

Cabarrus County would have to hire another 120 teachers and come up with another 120 classrooms and supplies to fill them. Van Heukeleum says it would be great to have the extra teachers, but then the district would have to lay off a bunch of teacher assistants and do that all on very short notice.