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Reentry bill offers choices to families

Posted on February 15, 2021


Lisa Barnes

Lisa Barnes

An editorial published online by WRAL-TV claims that the General Assembly is withholding education funding from children while forcing schools to reopen — which is untrue.

The truth is that the legislation, Senate Bill 37, “In-Person Learning Choice for Families,” provides a much-needed choice for families to attend in-person school. In addition, funding for in-person school needs has already passed unanimously in a bill that included $1.6 billion in federal aid for K-12 schools to help the reopening process for things like additional transportation resources; appropriate space and facilities for safe preparation, distribution and consumption of school meals; regular on-site COVID-19 testing; adequate nurse support and more. 

This $1.6 billion federal aid bill provides for more discretionary funds for school principals to address the needs of their individual schools — because they know best what is needed to keep their schools operating safely right now. The legislature also provided schools with a “hold harmless” budget provision last year, meaning schools will receive the same level of funding despite serving fewer students due to the pandemic.

Gov. Roy Cooper signed that bill into law last week, so school districts will soon have that funding to continue on a clear path to reopen for in-person instruction, especially now that Senate Bill 37 guarantees that option for families.

Also notable: Since 2011, the North Carolina General Assembly has intentionally and methodically increased K-12 education funding by a total of $9.2 billion. The K-12 education budget in North Carolina increased by an average of 3.3% per year from 2011-18. 

While listening to my constituents back in my district, one thing remains clear — students need to have the option to go to school. Many of our students have been out of the classroom for nearly a year. Studies, including one done right here in North Carolina, have shown that with proper safety protocols in place, like what we’re providing in the aid package, schools can reopen.

I voted for Senate Bill 37 because we need to prioritize students’ needs, and the aid package we just passed will support that effort.  I am proud that the General Assembly is taking steps to make that happen instead of finding more excuses. 

We need to get our kids back in school, safely, and we’ve provided a pathway to do just that.

Lisa Barnes, R-Nash, represents Senate District 11 in the N.C. General Assembly.  

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