State should provide equal funding for school districts, Elon University Poll finds

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The latest Elon University Poll finds a large majority of North Carolinians believe the state should provide money to ensure equal funding of school districts, but less than half believe the state should take control of schools based on their performance.

The poll, conducted April 2-6 by the Elon University Institute for Politics and Public Affairs, surveyed 677 North Carolina residents. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent.

Eighty-three percent of North Carolinians said the state should provide funding to ensure that all school districts spend about the same amount per student. Sixty-two percent said the state should be involved in determining how local school districts manage their affairs. But 46 percent said the state should not take over schools based on their performance, while 44 percent said the state should be involved. A majority of respondents, 56 percent, said state courts should not be involved in determining how local school districts manage their affairs; 37 percent favored court involvement.

“Clearly, citizens of North Carolina want the state involved in local school districts, but not too involved,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll. “They look to the state to address funding inequities across districts, but are a bit more tepid about the state taking over underperforming schools.”

The poll also surveyed citizens about gas prices, with 83 percent saying recent prices have affected them or someone in their household, compared with 79 percent in an October 2005 Elon University Poll. Citizens were split on whether Gov. Mike Easley can do anything to reduce gas prices, with 45 percent saying the governor can do something, while 49 percent said the prices are beyond the governor’s control. Fifty-one percent said the state legislature can reduce the prices; 42 percent said the prices are beyond the legislature’s control.

“Although split, it appears North Carolinians see the legislature as the more appropriate body for addressing gas prices,” Bacot said. “Citizens may be relating increased gas prices to the state’s gas tax. It will be interesting to see if the tax issue is dealt with in the upcoming legislative session.”

The Elon University Poll has conducted several polls annually since 2000. The non-partisan Elon University Poll conducts frequent scientific telephone polls on issues of importance citizens. The poll results are shared with media, citizens and researchers to facilitate representative democracy and public policy making through the better understanding of the opinions and needs of citizens in the state and region.