More than 50 N.C. business, political figures back brief supporting Leandro plaintiffs | Eastern North Carolina Now | A group describing itself as "recognized leaders in the North Carolina business community" supports plaintiffs in the Leandro school funding legal dispute.

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    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the Carolina Journal. The author of this post is CJ Staff.

    Self-proclaimed "recognized leaders in the North Carolina business community" are jumping into the Leandro school funding debate. They filed paperwork Wednesday in the N.C. Supreme Court to support plaintiffs seeking court-ordered education funding.

    The list of more than 50 names includes: Erskine Bowles, former White House chief of staff and retired president of the University of North Carolina System; Thomas Bradshaw, former Raleigh mayor and N.C. transportation secretary; Ken Eudy, former top adviser to Gov. Roy Cooper; Jim Fain, former N.C. commerce secretary; Anthony Foxx, former Charlotte mayor and U.S. transportation secretary; Hannah Gage, former chair of the UNC System Board of Governors; James Goodmon, Capitol Broadcasting Company chairman and CEO; James Goodnight, co-founder and CEO of SAS Institute; Hugh McColl, former chairman and CEO of Bank of America; Orage Quarles, former president and publisher of the News and Observer; Thomas Ross, former UNC System president; Sherwood Smith, former CEO and chairman of Carolina Power and Light; Norris Tolson, former secretary of the N.C. departments of commerce, revenue, and transportation; Brad Wilson, former president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina; and Smedes York, former Raleigh mayor.

    The group is submitting a friend-of-the-court, or amicus, brief supporting plaintiffs. "The amici submitting this brief are recognized leaders in the North Carolina business community, all of whom have dedicated their professional efforts to building and serving enterprises that contribute to our state's economic progress and stability," according to the group's attorneys. "Amici are attentive to the impact of a sound basic education on the future of the North Carolina's youth and our state economy."

    "In particular, amici are concerned that failure to improve public schools will negatively affect our students' ability to thrive in the workplace - and by extension our collective economic condition," the court filing adds. "Amici also rely on quality education so that they can draw from a skilled and talented local work force to support their business efforts. Improving education in the state is vital for amici and businesses who seek to maintain and grow their business interests in North Carolina."

    The group touts "the undeniable link between improved educational opportunities and economic prosperity." The brief aims to "highlight the overwhelming consensus within our state government and among social scientists concerning the impact of quality education on improved economic outcomes."

    The N.C. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Aug. 31 in the latest stage of the Leandro suit, which started in 1994. The state's highest court has issued major Leandro rulings in 1997 and 2004. The case is known officially as Hoke County Board of Education v. State.

    The latest controversy in the case involves a trial judge's order this spring to boost state education spending by $785 million. That number dropped from a $1.75 billion figure ordered last November. The money would cover portions of a court-sanctioned remedial plan designed to resolve the Leandro dispute.

    In addition to the extra spending, Supreme Court justices will decide whether the judge had the authority to bypass the General Assembly. The original Nov. 10 order would have forced state officials to transfer money out of the state treasury without legislative authorization.

    "In light of the history and empirical data linking quality education with improved financial conditions, amici will argue that the remedy ordered by the trial court was the practical and constitutionally appropriate means for the State to guard and maintain the fundamental right to a sound basic education as interpreted by the Court's prior decisions and mandated by the Constitution," according to the court filing.

    Monday marks the deadline for the next set of briefs in the Leandro case. All parties must finish submitting paperwork to the state Supreme Court by Aug. 12.

    After the Aug. 31 oral arguments, the court will issue its opinion "upon a date to be chosen in the Court's discretion."

    Here's the full list of supporters of the friend-of-the-court brief, as identified in the paperwork:

    Adam Abram

    Chairman, James River Group Holdings, Ltd.

    Sepi Asefnia

    President & CEO, Sepi Engineering, Inc.

    Chair, NC Chamber

    James Babb

    Former President & CEO, Jefferson Pilot Communications

    Rye Barcott

    Managing Partner and Co-Founder, Double Time Capital

    Ronald J. Bernstein

    Retired CEO, Liggett Vector Brands

    Crandall Bowles

    Former Chair & CEO, Springs Industries

    Erskine Bowles

    Co-Founder, Carousel Capital

    President Emeritus, University of North Carolina

    Thomas W. Bradshaw, Jr.

    Retired Managing Director, Citigroup

    Former Chair, NC Citizens for Business & Industry (now NC Chamber)

    Former Chair, Raleigh Chamber of Commerce

    Former Chair, Public School Forum of North Carolina

    John R. Bratton

    Director, Wake Stone Corporation

    Samuel T. Bratton

    CEO and President, Wake Stone Corporation

    Theodore D. Bratton

    Chairman, Wake Stone Corporation

    Jack Clayton

    President of Business Strategy, TowneBank

    Sue W. Cole

    Managing Partner, Sage Leadership & Strategy, LLC

    Former Mid-Atlantic CEO, U.S. Trust Company

    Sandra Wilcox Conway

    Former Manager, Excellence in Education, The First Union Foundation

    Peter Conway

    Founder (Retired), Trinity Partners

    John Cooper

    Chair, Mast General Store

    Don Curtis

    Founder & CEO, Curtis Media Group

    Richard L. "Dick" Daugherty

    Former Vice President & Senior North Carolina Executive, IBM

    Former Chair, NC Citizens for Business & Industry (now NC Chamber)

    Emeritus Board of Directors, Research Triangle Park

    Charter Board of Directors, Public School Forum of North Carolina

    Bert Davis

    President, 95 Impact Capital, Inc.

    James M. Deal, Jr.

    Former Chair, Watauga County Board of Education

    Former Chair, Watauga Board of County Commissioners

    Former Chair, Board of Trustees, Appalachian State University

    Clay Dunnagan

    Founder and Manager, Anchor Capital

    John Ellison, Jr.

    President, The Ellison Company

    Frank E. Emory Jr.

    EVP, Chief Administrative Officer, Novant Health

    Ken Eudy

    Founder and Former CEO, Capstrat

    Jim Fain

    Retired Bank Executive

    Former Secretary, North Carolina Department of Commerce

    Anthony Foxx

    Former Mayor of Charlotte

    Former US Transportation Secretary

    Paul Fulton

    Former President, Sara Lee Corporation

    Former Dean, Kenan-Flagler Business School

    Chairman Emeritus, Bassett Furniture Industries

    Founder and Chair, Higher Education Works

    Hannah Gage

    Former Owner, Cape Fear Broadcasting Company

    Former Chair, UNC Board of Governors

    Alston Gardner

    Managing Director, DGI Capital, LLC

    Patti Gillenwater

    President and CEO, Elinvar Leadership Solutions

    James F. Goodmon

    Chair & CEO, Capitol Broadcasting Company

    James and Ann Goodnight

    SAS Institute

    Greg Hatem

    Founder & CEO, Empire Properties and Empire Eats

    Barnes Hauptfuhrer

    Former CEO, Chapter IV Investors, LLC

    Former Co-Head, Corporate & Investment Banking, Wachovia Corp.

    Melody Riley Johnson

    Director, Strategic Accounts, Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices

    Steven J. Levitas

    Senior Vice President, Pinegate Renewables

    Elizabeth Martin

    Producer, Wild Violet Media, LLC

    Easter A. Maynard

    Board Chair, Golden Corral Corporation

    James H. Maynard

    Board Chair/Founder, Investors Management Corporation

    Founder, Golden Corral Corporation

    Hugh L. McColl, Jr.

    Former Chair & CEO, Bank of America

    Dr. Bill McNeal

    Author (with Tom Oxholm): A School District's Journey to Excellence:

    Lessons From Business and Education

    Former Superintendent, Wake County Schools

    National Superintendent of the Year

    Carlton Midyette

    Venture Capital Investor

    Thomas B. Oxholm

    Executive Vice President, Wake Stone Corporation

    Former member, Wake County Board of Education

    Author (with Dr. Bill McNeal): A School District's Journey to Excellence:

    Lessons From Business and Education

    Roger Perry

    Chairman, East West Partners Club Management

    Orage Quarles, III

    Former President & Publisher, The News & Observer

    Co-Founder, Journalism Funding Project

    Thomas W. Ross

    Chairman of the Board, Bausch & Lomb Company

    Director, Bausch Health Companies

    President Emeritus, University of North Carolina

    Retired Superior Court Judge

    Thomas R. Sloan

    Founder, Sloan Capital Company

    Gordon Smith III

    Retired Investment Advisor

    Founder and CEO, Wood Pile LLC

    Sherwood Smith

    Former Chair, NC Citizens for Business & Industry (now NC Chamber)

    Former Chair, Triangle Universities Center for Advanced Studies, RTP

    Charter Board Member, Public School Forum of North Carolina

    Norris Tolson

    Retired Business Executive

    CEO & President, Carolinas Gateway Partnership

    Former CEO, North Carolina Biotechnology Center

    Former Secretary, NC Departments of Commerce, Revenue, and

    Transportation

    Richard Urquhart

    Retired Vice President, Investors Management Corporation

    J. Bradley Wilson

    President & CEO Emeritus, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of North Carolina

    Former Chair, UNC Board of Governors

    David Woronoff

    President, The (Southern Pines) Pilot and Business North Carolina

    Magazine

    Smedes York

    Chair, York Properties

    Former Mayor, City of Raleigh
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