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Legislative Alert – Mar 10

Legislative Alert – Mar 10

SCHOOL BOARD LOCAL FUNDING LAWSUIT AUTHORITY

Four House members filed legislation on Thursday eliminating school boards’ ability to file litigation challenging local funding sufficiency.  HB 305 is identical to the bill that the House voted down in 2015.  It is sponsored by Reps. Debra Conrad, R-Forsyth, Larry Potts, R-Davidson, Carl Ford, R-Rowan, and Michael Wray, D-Northampton.  Three of the four sponsors are former county commissioners.

Last session, NCSBA and the NC Association of County Commissioners agreed to have the General Assembly study the current process for resolving education funding disputes between school boards and county commissioners.  This study is currently underway and the final report is due by May 1.  NCSBA is asking lawmakers to hold off on hearing HB 305 until this report’s findings and recommendations are released.


SCHOOL CALENDAR BILL UPDATE

As of March 10:

– 41 local bills have been filed giving various types of calendar flexibility to 74 school systems.
Local calendar flexibility bills filed in the Senate:  12
Local calendar flexibility bills filed in the House:  29

– 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.


FUNDING/SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION & SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS 

A Senate bill filed this week would put new lottery dollars towards two of the most pressing challenges facing LEAs- school capital and salaries for school-based administrators.  SB 234 is sponsored by Senators Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, Harry Brown, R-Onslow, and Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell.  The bill’s two components are as follows.

SB 234 School Construction Monies

Up to $100 million in new school capital lottery dollars would be put into a special fund each fiscal year, to be distributed ONLY to Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties (all but 20 of the counties in the state).  Individual counties would be eligible for no more than $10 million each fiscal year.  This would be in addition to the regular school construction lottery allocation.

The bill would give the State Superintendent a great deal of power to determine who gets the new funding.  While Tier 1 counties would have to receive first priority, the other criteria for distributing the funding would include things like total need compared to tax base, high debt-to-tax ratio, and type of individual construction projects.

Counties that are awarded these monies would also have to put up a local match.

To see which counties are considered Tier 1, 2, and 3 click here.

SB 234 School- Based Administrator Funding

Lottery Block Grants for Principal Pay
LEAs would receive lottery dollars for principal salaries in 2017-18 in the form of a block grant of that district’s average 16-17 principal salary plus 7%.  Local superintendents would determine each principal’s salary, except that no principal could make less than they earned in 2016-17.

Lottery Principal Bonus Program
There would be $6.7 million in lottery funds set aside for principal bonuses.  All principals would get a one-time $2,600 bonus in 2017-18 and then principals selected by superintendents would receive an additional $1,000 performance-based bonus.

Assistant Principal Pay
The assistant principal salary schedule would track the “A” teacher salary schedule plus an additional 13%.

Click here to read more about the bill and to watch a press conference from the bill sponsors.

SCHOOL GRADES/GROWTH

A House bill has been filed to give growth more credit in the calculation of school A-F grades.  The bill is HB 322, sponsored by Reps. Linda Johnson, R-Cabarrus, Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes, and Craig Horn, R-Union.  HB 322 would make the growth and performance county 50/50 in the calculation of A-F grades.


K-3 CLASS SIZE FIX

Please continue to contact your Senator(s) in support of HB 13.  Click here to find your Senator(s).

As you are talking about HB 13 with your Senator(s) an important point to remember is that the General Assembly has invested nearly $200 million since 2011 with the intent of lowering early grade class sizes.  HB 13 recognizes this investment while preserving flexibility to generate dollars for specialty teachers.

Remember 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.

Talking Points on HB 13

HB 13 would:

a) Provide substantial relief from the drastic K-3 class size changes that are set to take effect this coming 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 the flexibility that 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.

 

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, March 13

7:00 PM
Governor Roy Cooper will deliver the State of the State address to a joint session of the General Assembly.

Ramona MillerLegislative Alert – Mar 10