WAKE COUNTY, N.C. — Many North Carolina public schools, parents and advocates are happy after the Supreme Court's decision on the Leandro plan.
On November 4, the court ruled the state must pay so every student will receive a comprehensive education. The ruling calls for $5.6 billion in new annual education funds to be spent by 2028.
What You Need To Know
The North Carolina Supreme Court has ruled that the state must fund the Leandro plan
It calls for every student to receive a fair, comprehensive basic education
The ruling calls for $5.6 billion in new annual education funds to be spent by 2028
The long-lasting lawsuit started in 1994, when five North Carolina counties said they didn’t have enough money to give their students a proper basic education. And soon other counties joined the effort.
"The court said, ‘you know you’re right … not everyone is getting that sound, basic education,'" said Susan Book, a parent advocate with Every Child NC. "The problem is no one did anything for many, many, many years. It (the case) just sat there. No one got the funding that they deserved. And in fact in subsequent years, our North Carolina General Assembly cut resources in spending on education. And so that things actually got worse than they were in the '90s."
Now, 28 years later — after a lot of back and forth, a new judge, a comprehensive report and a court case — the N.C. Supreme Court approved the plan Friday.
It's a big deal for advocates and parents like Book. The organization she works for, Every Child NC, fights for equitable funding for public education. She started working remotely with them in 2019, and part of her motivation comes from her son, who has autism.
“I've had to advocate on a very personal level for him to get a one-on-one aide, for him get into the right programs so that he can succeed," Book said.
She hopes the money from the Leandro plan will add more instructional assistants to the classroom, because they can make a big difference for students with disabilities and other learning barriers.
"For our students, especially our students of poverty, our English learners, our disability students ... they have been an afterthought when it comes to funding, when it comes to how our school functions," Book said. "And I hope that, because Leandro is all about equity, it makes them a forethought."
Leandro is an eight-year plan that the court has already decided on, but the money has only been released for the first couple of years. It's ultimately up to local agencies, like county commissioners and school boards, to choose how the money is spent.
If you want to see how money from the Leandro plan will be spent in your county, you can check the budget analysis tool on the Every Child NC website.