The Wake County school board Tuesday added their voice to the chorus of support for the Leandro plan, unanimously passing a resolution imploring state lawmakers to provide students in North Carolina with a sound basic education. 

“I think it’s clear the state has failed to do its job,” said board member Christine Kushner. “We don’t need more opportunity scholarships. We don’t need more privatization of charter schools. The innovation, the excellence is happening in Wake County schools, and we could be doing even more if we were fully funded from the state.” 

The Leandro school improvement plan calls for at least $5.6 billion in new K-12 funding over the next seven years. The currently proposed budgets from the state House and Senate, however, are still millions of dollars short of the money needed to meet that goal. 

Wake County school board members argued the state has the means to help schools without raising taxes. Several asked the state to make a true investment in public education by exceeding the minimum requirements of the Leandro plan. 

“[The state] can fully fund Leandro and still have several billion dollars left over in the general revenue fund,” said board member Jim Martin. 

The state legislature is facing a looming deadline since Superior Court Judge David Lee’s decision last month that gave lawmakers until October 15 to fully fund the plan. Lee said he’s giving state lawmakers “one more last chance” to meet their constitutional obligation before he orders them to comply. 

Also Tuesday, the debate over the Wake County school district’s mask mandate continued, with parents accusing the board of abuse, discrimination, and totalitarianism for requiring children to wear masks. Rhetoric from public commenters was extreme, with some people citing religion, patriotism, and Nazi Germany in their arguments. 

Several other parents praised the board for continuing the mandate, saying it keeps students and teachers safe from the coronavirus pandemic. In a vote required by the state legislature, the board resolved to continue the mask mandate, including the requirement that athletes wear masks outdoors. 

Also Tuesday, the board approved:

— an agreement with Wake Technical Community College to open an early college high school on its Morrisville campus. The school—with specialized programs in computer programming, network management, cybersecurity, and biotech—is expected to open in 2022.

— a resolution requesting the state legislature pass a law allowing the school board to return to four-year staggered terms with elections in odd-numbered years.

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