The issue of county school construction needs is getting some necessary attention from the legislature this session. Recently, the Department of Public Instruction conducted a facility needs survey to assess school building and infrastructure demands over the five-year and 10-year horizons. DPI reports that school systems will need $8 billion over the next five years and $13.4 billion over the next 10 years to build new schools and to renovate or add on to existing schools. The department further attests that local funding is inadequate to meet these needs, and that additional state funding is necessary to fulfill the “highest facility needs in relation to the capacity to raise revenue.”
Sens. Harry Brown, Brent Jackson, Jim Davis, and Louis Pate introduced a bill this week to address these concerns. S811
(Lottery Funds for School Construction) would create a Critical Public School Building Needs Fund to provide grant assistance to counties for school construction needs based on the counties’ ability to generate revenue through sales and property taxes. The bill would appropriate $25 million in lottery revenues to the critical needs fund, which would be in addition to the amount, $100 million in recent years, appropriated to the Public School Building Capital Fund.
The bill provides for an additional $25 million to the critical needs fund upon the passage of S728
(Lottery – JLOC Recommendations), which was referred out of the Lottery Oversight Committee and would increase the cap on lottery advertising expenses from 1% to 2%. N.C. Education Lottery Executive Director Alice Garland estimates that this increase will generate an additional $48.4 million in lottery revenues.
We extend our sincere thanks to Sens. Brown, Jackson, former Macon County Commissioner and 2013 Friend of the Counties Award winner Davis and Pate for their leadership and support on the issue of increasing lottery dollars for school construction needs, which has been a priority of the counties for several sessions.