North Carolina's Supreme Court is deciding whether to require expansion of a pre-kindergarten academic program designed to boost the classroom achievement of poor children.
The state's high court heard Tuesday from attorneys in the latest chapter in a 19-year-old dispute brought by five poor school districts.
A state attorney defending cutbacks by the Republican-led General Assembly said it's a goal to enroll needy 4-year-olds in the program to help them get ready for kindergarten, but it isn't legally binding. A lawyer for the State Board of Education says the program is the only solution officials have offered to fix a constitutional violation nine years after a previous Supreme Court ruling.
One estimate puts the cost of expanding the program to all eligible 4-year-old at up to $300 million a year.
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