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NC School Budget Cuts: Parent Groups Could Be Left Holding the Bag

Photo: Kelly Langston with son at a school event. Courtesy: Langston
Photo: Kelly Langston with son at a school event. Courtesy: Langston
August 20, 2013

GREENSBORO, N.C. - Many North Carolina children are returning to school this week, but it's their parents and teachers who may be left with more "homework." This year's reduction in state funding for teacher assistants and increased class sizes is generating concern that the additional burden may fall on parent groups such as PTOs and PTAs.

According to Debra Horton, executive director of the North Carolina PTA, her 1,000 groups in the state are bracing for the impact.

"We're very concerned about the potential for classroom cuts, for schools having to do more with less, and certainly then the PTAs begin to take on a different role," she said.

Horton pointed out that PTAs are not meant to become "fundraising machines" for the schools, and should focus on creating programs to help support pupils. K-through-12 education funding in North Carolina falls $180 million short of the amount that is needed to maintain it at last year's service levels, according to the Office of State Budget and Management.

Kelly Langston, President-Elect for the North Carolina PTA, has had children in the Greensboro public schools for the last 12 years, and said the additional expectations will weigh heavily on parents, many of whom already are struggling with their own financial stress.

"Schools are asking their parent groups to do more, and they're desperate," she said. "I mean that's the unfortunate reality. Principals are looking everywhere for any additional dollars that they can find. "

According to their data, the North Carolina PTA contributes at least $5 million every year to programs that affect 600,000 pupils daily.

Reporting for this story by North Carolina News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest. Media in the Public Interest is funded in part by Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.

Stephanie Carson/Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC