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August 17, 2011

The North Carolina legislature cut pre-K funding in its recently passed budget. At the request of plaintiffs in Hoke County v. State, the Wake County Superior Court ordered that the state (1) "shall not implement or enforce that portion of the 2011 Budget Bill" and (2) "shall not deny any eligible at-risk four year old admission ... and shall provide ... quality [pre-K] services ... ."

In response, the Governor issued an Executive Order (EO No. 100), requiring NC Pre-K to maintain and strengthen "current academic standards and operation" and continue "the critical infrastructure and sufficient per child funding to ensure that current standards" are maintained. North Carolina's "More at Four" pre-K program was a long-standing and high quality program for four year olds until the legislature cut funding and renamed it.

The Superior Court issued its order after a three-day hearing and was well-positioned to hear plaintiffs' motion because it is the remand court from a 2004 North Carolina Supreme Court Hoke County ruling that declared the then-current state school funding system violated the NC Constitution. The supreme court remanded the case to the superior court to monitor the state's compliance.

To date, North Carolina is one of only three states in which plaintiffs have challenged state school funding budget cuts. Plaintiffs in New Jersey successfully challenged school funding cuts, and plaintiffs in Kansas are preparing for trial on their claims that recent funding cuts violate the Kansas Constitution and that Kansas children are being deprived of their fundamental right to an education. The Kansas petition asks the court to require the state to provide sufficient moneys to allow the current school finance system to work.

Education Justice Press Contact:
Molly A. Hunter, Esq.
Director, Education Justice
email: mhunter@edlawcenter.org
voice: 973 624-1815 x19

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