North Carolina Weighing Options

Last Updated: January 25, 2011

This article appeared in the January 2011 Rural Policy Matters.

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North Carolina is facing serious budget decisions when the legislature returns late this month. The state deficit is estimated to be $3.7 billion, and Governor Beverly Perdue asked education leaders to describe to the legislature the impact of 5% and 10% cuts.

The Department of Public Instruction has estimated that a 10% cut would eliminate 5300 classroom teachers. The state has already cut funding for a program targeted at small schools in low-income areas, and as a result, 20 schools will have no social worker or nurse. The state has also temporarily eliminated funding for teacher mentoring.

Schools are also seeing increases in the numbers of homeless students. In rural Nash-Rocky Mount School District, the number of homeless students increased 49% between the ’07–’08 and ’08–’09 school years and has remained constant since then. Under the federal McKinney-Vento Act, districts must have a homelessness liaison on staff to conduct outreach to homeless students and families, facilitate quick enrollment in school, and coordinate access to services students may need.

Rural homelessness can be more difficult to spot because families may be staying temporarily with relatives or friends or in uninhabitable housing. Federal law includes students in these unstable settings in the definition of homelessness and charges school districts with assisting them.

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Read more from the January 2011 Rural Policy Matters.