News: Quick Takes

New website provides deeper dive on N.C. school finances

N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson, pictured here in his office. (CJ photo by Don Carrington)
N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson, pictured here in his office. (CJ photo by Don Carrington)

The Department of Public Instruction has unveiled a new tool for shedding light on state education funding.

State Superintendent Mark Johnson announced Thursday, April 25, the launch of North Carolina School Finance, a website offering data on how public education money spent across school districts.

“As the elected leader of North Carolina’s public schools, I want to encourage constructive discussions about our education system,” Johnson said in a news release. “A subject as important as our public schools deserves all the transparency we can provide.”

The N.C. School Finance site was developed in partnership with Government Data Analytics Center of the N.C. Department of Information Technology and Cary-based SAS.

People can find numbers on large scale school finances, such as the total amount spent for public schools from federal, state and local sources — $15.8 billion — or smaller numbers, such as how much the annual average pay is for a teacher in various school districts.

Perusers of the database can find information for each school district on average teacher salaries — with and without benefits added — class sizes, and textbook funding. The website delineates spending between traditional public schools and charter schools.

The homepage of N.C. School Finances features several finance highlights:

  • Annual average projected compensation for teachers for the 2018-19 year: $53,975
  • Annual median N.C. household income for 2017: $50,320
  • Annual median wage in N.C. for a person with a bachelor’s degree for 2017: $47,258
  • Average instructional supplies funding per teacher in 2017-18: $511
  • Average textbook funding per student in 2017-18: $42

The arrival of the online toolkit comes a week before thousands of teachers plan to descend on the General Assembly to demand more public education funding and Medicare expansion. At least 28 school districts plan to close May 1 to allow teachers to participate. The N.C. Association of Educators, which is sponsoring the rally, has long criticized the General Assembly for failing to fund public schools and pay teachers at levels they find acceptable.

The Republican-led General Assembly has countered the NCAE’s assertions and have pointed to recent teacher pay raises as proof of their dedication to education.

“After five consecutive pay raises the average teacher salary in North Carolina is higher than the state’s median wage for college graduates and a beginning teacher’s salary is higher than average starting salary for other college graduates,” Speaker of the House Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, tweeted.