NC superintendents unite to call on legislature to spend more on students

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The heads of multiple public school systems are coming together to ask the North Carolina legislature to do better.

Superintendents from 10 different counties held a news conference Monday afternoon to call attention to what they say are glaring issues in public education. The superintendents say the issues are costing North Carolina teachers and students. Funding was at the top of their list.

“Many of our teachers are forced to supplement income by spending evenings, weekends and holidays working in department stores, grocery stores and restaurants,” said Darrin Hartness, Davie County Schools superintendent.

The superintendents also said spending per pupil is lower than it was in 2008 before the recession.

And on top of some of the lowest teacher pay in the country, they complain the process of qualifying to teach in North Carolina is too strict.

“Why would you come to North Carolina if you have to take more tests and pay big funds out of your pocket?” posed Frank Till, Cumberland County Schools Superintendent.

But beyond funding and licensing, is how the schools themselves are rated.

“It’s a misrepresentation of our schools,” said Carmen Graf, principal of East Garner Elementary School.

Graf says it just adds more obstacles to an already uphill battle.

“The A-F label system does not really show the work that the students are doing, or the teachers are doing. Nor does it support where we’re going as a school system,” said Graf.

Wake County Schools Superintendent Jim Merrill agrees.

“I’ve often said that our parents and our business leaders and our community are much sharper much more able to understand more than a single grade for a school,” said Merrill.

School system leaders are also calling on lawmakers to stop the expansion of the state’s private school voucher system, which they say sends public tax dollars to schools that are held to a different standard.

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