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Legislative Alert – Feb 24, 17

Legislative Alert – Feb 24, 17

K-3 CLASS SIZE FIX UPDATE/COMMITTEE HEARING

The K-3 class size issue was a major topic of discussion during a joint hearing of the House and Senate Education Appropriations Committees this week.  Outgoing DPI Chief Financial Officer Phillip Price explained to the committee that LEAs have had the flexibility to generate funds for specialty teachers since 1985.  Senator Jerry Tillman, R-Moore, explained that it frustrates him to see State funds intended for class size reductions used for program enhancement teachers and “others.”

“It’s sort of a running joke that we can go ahead and exceed that by five or six.  What is the punishment? Nothing.  So what holds you to doing exactly what the legislation says you will do and reduce those class sizes,” Sen. Tillman said.

Senator Chad Barefoot, R-Wake, one of the Co-Chairs of the Senate’s Education Committee, asked Mr. Price what guidance DPI or the State Board had given to school districts about how the K-3 class size funds could be used.

“The funding that goes to the school districts is funded in total…..it is the school district and local board’s responsibility to make sure they adhere to the state guidelines and the state laws and the State Board policies.  But they place the teachers and hire the combination of teachers that are necessary to meet the needs of their particular school system,” Mr. Price said.

This hearing served as a reminder of HB 13’s uncertain fate in the Senate.  As we advised last week, you need to be prepared in your 2017-18 local budget requests to ask for both the current expense and capital funding necessary to implement the scheduled changes to K-3 class size averages.  We suggest that the needed funds be broken out and shown as a separate line-item in your local budget request.  This will put a public spotlight on what the changes to K-3 class size averages are costing LEAs.  Please also share with us the monetary impact of the K-3 class size changes in your district.

HB 13 remains in the Senate Rules Committee.  Please continue to contact your Senator(s) in support of HB 13.  Click here to find your Senator(s). 

Talking Points on HB 13

HB 13 bill would:

a) Provide substantial relief from the drastic K-3 class size changes that would otherwise take effect this upcoming school year.

b) Give LEAs the flexibility to have a differential of 3 between the funded and average classroom teacher ratios starting in 2017-18 for K-3, which has been the historical practice.  The differential of 3 for average class sizes returns 75% of what is allowed (not necessarily used) this school year.

While understanding that HB 13 is not a perfect solution to the K-3 class size issue, remember that if nothing passes on this districts will be forced to equalize the funded and average ratios in 2017-18 which could lead to (i) drastic cuts in art, music, and physical education teaching positions in K-3; (ii) an increase in class sizes in grades 4-12; or (iii) a funding hole that would need to be filled by an infusion of local dollars.

SCHOOL CALENDAR

Several school calendar flexibility bills have already been filed a month into this 2017 legislative session.

  • 19 local bills giving various types of calendar flexibility to 41 school systems.
  •  1 statewide bill-allows all LEAs to begin school no earlier than August 10 (HB 53 sponsored by Reps. Cody Henson, Kevin Corbin, Mitch Setzer, and Michele Presnell).
  •  Click here to see if a calendar flexibility bill has been filed for your LEA.

*Action Needed/Draft Local Calendar Bill*

If NO local calendar flexibility bills have yet been filed for your LEA:
Please ask members of your local delegation, particularly on the Senate side, to introduce a local bill giving your LEA calendar flexibility.  Use this draft local bill:  click here for the draft bill.

If a local calendar flexibility bill has been filed for your LEA only in the House:
(1) Be sure to thank the bill sponsor(s).
AND
(2) Ask your Senate members to introduce a similar local calendar flexibility bill for your LEA in the Senate.
Use this draft local bill:  click here for the draft bill.

If a local calendar flexibility bill has been filed for your LEA in the Senate:
Be sure to thank the bill sponsor(s).


FUNDING FORMULA STUDY BILL PASSES HOUSE

Legislation creating a special committee to examine a restructuring of the State’s method for funding public schools passed the House this week.  HB 6 authorizes a special committee made up of lawmakers to study and develop a way to restructure the State’s K-12 funding system using the “weighted-student formula.”



BILLS

Action Bills:  Click here for the NCSBA-tracked bills that had action this week.

New Bills: Click here for a list of bills filed this week that NCSBA is tracking.


UPCOMING LEGISLATIVE MEETINGS AND EVENTS

Monday, February 27

The Senate will convene at 4:00.

The House will convene at 7:00.

Tuesday, February 28

 

8:30 AM
The House Finance Committee will meet.

10:00 AM
The House K-12 Education Committee will meet.

Ramona MillerLegislative Alert – Feb 24, 17