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By EMERY P. DALESIO
Associated Press

KNIGHTDALE, NC (AP) — Changes in the state budget about to take effect are at the heart of a court fight challenging whether North Carolina is living up to its constitutional duty to give every child the opportunity for a good education.

The budget going into effect Friday changes a classroom program helping four-year-olds at risk of falling behind their peers before they even get to kindergarten.

Lawyers representing poor school districts in a long-running education-rights lawsuit say the budget changes will undermine a program that is essential to state efforts to help children from disadvantaged families. They asked Superior Court Judge Howard Manning Jr. last week to freeze the changes in the More At Four program before they take effect.

Manning did not say whether he would issue a ruling, or when.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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