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Swain school leaders call for funding formula change in Raleigh

Swain County leaders said how Raleigh allocates money for local schools is unfair. A new report from the Public School Forum of North Carolina puts Swain at the bottom of all counties in its per pupil local spending. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Swain County leaders said how Raleigh allocates money for local schools is unfair. A new report from the Public School Forum of North Carolina puts Swain at the bottom of all counties in its per pupil local spending.

But Swain school leaders said Raleigh’s funding formula based on tax rates should be changed or eliminated. They said Swain's rate is pushed down because of high property values on vacation homes.

They also said impact money the county receives from much of its federal land should be part of lawmakers' calculation.

“Trying to convince them that that money should be counted in our formula, that is part of what is given locally, which would bring us up more to the state average and would allow us to get another couple hundred thousand dollars from them,” Swain County School Board Chairman Jerry McKinney said.

That is money McKinney said could pay for teachers or help renovate or replace aging school buildings.

“Our kids are not getting an equal education to the Mecklenburg counties, even Buncombe County with resources they have, because we're a rural county with limited resources,” McKinney said.

Kathryn Brown is student body president at Swain High. She sees what wealthier school districts have.

“They may have more AP programs and advance placement classes, and they have a lot of technology,” she said.

Brown, who will be off to the University of North Carolina after graduation, thinks of returning to Swain to teach, but she worries about the state's financial investment in the area.

“I would be wary of coming back just because I would be afraid there aren't as many opportunities,” she said.

School leaders said they'll continue the fight in Raleigh.

“The positive thing is they're listening to us,” McKinney said.

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