House Education Committee Unanimously Approves $1.9B School Construction Bond

 Funding formula provides 40% weight for low-wealth schools and a minimum of $10 million for every county

No matching funds would be required for counties that receive an allocation for low wealth or $10 million minimum adjustment

Raleigh, N.C. – The state House Committee on K-12 Education unanimously approved legislation on Tuesday proposing a $1.9 billion school construction bond for North Carolina voters to consider on the ballot in the March 2020 primary.

House Bill 241 Education Bond Act of 2019 is sponsored by Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland), Senior House Appropriations Co-Chair Linda Johnson (R-Cabarrus), House Education Committee Co-Chair Craig Horn (R-Union), and House Education Committee Co-Chair Jeffrey Elmore (R-Wilkes).

The bill is co-sponsored by more than 50 members of the North Carolina House of Representatives.  It applies a funding formula to determine proposed appropriations to individual school systems that applies a 40% weight to counties with low-wealth status and an adjustment factor to ensure every county receives at least $10 million.

The legislation also provides funding based on each district’s average daily membership (ADM) and ADM growth.

“Traveling the state for input on this bond highlighted the construction needs in our education communities, particularly for the poorest counties in North Carolina,” Moore said.  “We need to help schools with the greatest need, the most.” 

Speaker Moore traveled to school systems in Harnett County, Columbus County, and Wilkes County, to gather support for the proposal.

Speaker Moore’s local school Superintendent Stephen Fisher of Cleveland County was also on-hand for the bond bill’s first committee hearing.

“This will build on the powerful investments and progress we’ve made in education the last several years,” Moore said.   

Rep. Kevin Corbin (R-Macon) noted the minimum $10 million appropriation for every county benefits rural regions in western North Carolina that he represents:

“Had we not had this minimum, it would really hurt my counties, and we have fixed costs no matter how large our school system is,” Corbin said.  “We have brick and mortar needs as much as other counties.”  

Rep. Charles Graham (D-Robeson) said the bond’s lack of a matching requirement for low-wealth appropriations offer a big benefit to eastern North Carolina regions hit hard by two recent hurricanes.

“I want to thank you that there’s not a match required for low-wealth counties,” Graham said, “after the devastation we had in Robeson County.” 

Speaker Moore said the weighting for low-wealth school systems at 40%, combined with the mandatory minimum of $10 million per county, were important to help every region make a difference with their capital construction funding.

“We want to make sure every school system can do something meaningful with this money,” Moore said.  “This is a sizable enough investment to make sure the counties with the greatest need see an immediate benefit. I think we owe as much to the kids in those counties as anywhere else.”