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Legislative Alert – Mar 31

Legislative Alert – Mar 31

K-3 CLASS SIZES

There remains no resolution on the K-3 class size issue at this time.  We urge that your school district begin making contingency plans to implement the changes as scheduled if you have not already done so.  Be sure to share your contingency plans with your Senators.  Give them an idea of some of the key decisions you are going to have to make and what the timeframe is going to be.

Various news stories have been popping up in recent weeks about how school districts are readying themselves for the K-3 class size changes.

  • Some Wake County year-round schools are shifting students to different tracks in anticipation of meeting the new requirements: click here to read more
  • Winston-Salem/Forsyth is discussing the possibility of cutting TA positions to meet the class size mandate: click here to read more
  • Dr. Terry Stoops of the John Locke Foundation writes that the K-3 class size changes are likely to result in more long-term substitutes in public school classrooms:  click here

In addition to HB 13, there is now a second bill that has been filed to try to give LEAs relief from the coming class size requirements.  Senator Rick Horner, R-Nash, filed SB 541 this week.  It sets a 21 average and 24 individual K-3 class size limit for 2017-18, with the individual class size max dropping to 23 the following school year.  Teachers in K-3 classrooms that exceed the individual class size max would have to be given an additional supplement for each child over the max – paid by the LEA using only local funds.

Along with contingency plans, it is important to continue communicating the below points to your Senators in talking about the K-3 class size issue.

1) Whether the uncertainty on the class size issue has caused any delays in issuing planning guides to principals in your district for the 2017-18 school year.

2) Whether the uncertainty on the class size issue has been creating any issues in your district in contracting with personnel for the 2017-18 school year.

3) Whether there are concerns in your district about the ability to find certified teachers to fill the additional classrooms from the class size changes.  Let them know that having long-term substitutes to fill these vacancies is not an educationally sound solution.

HOUSE BILL 2

State leaders reached a compromise on repealing and replacing House Bill 2.  The compromise bill moved through the General Assembly Thursday afternoon and was signed hours later by Gov. Cooper.  Click here to read the compromise.

The new law contains the following language pertaining to local governments:

No local government in this State may enact or amend an ordinance regulating private employment practices or regulating public accommodations.

If you have questions about this law please consult your local board attorney.

SCHOOL CALENDAR FLEXIBILITY

On Tuesday a pair of school calendar flexibility bills passed the House K-12 Education Committee.

1) HB 375 allows ALL LEAs to align the start of their school year with that of their local community college, but no earlier than August 15.  Reps. Jonathan Jordan, R-Ashe, Craig Horn, R-Union, Linda Johnson, R-Cabarrus, and Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, are the sponsors.  After it passed committee, HB 375 was put on the House calendar for the next day but then withdrawn.  It appears that leadership is going to wait until the Commerce Committee takes action on a calendar flexibility pilot bill (HB 389 see below) before taking up HB 375 on the House floor.  The intention is to bring the bills up on the House floor at the same time.

2) HB 389 creates a pilot program for 20 LEAs to set the beginning of their calendars no earlier than August 10.  It is sponsored by Reps. Harry Warren, R-Rowan, Craig Horn, R-Union, Linda Johnson, R-Cabarrus, and Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson.  HB 389 has been referred to the House Commerce Committee and is on the committee’s calendar for Wednesday, April 5 at 8:30 AM.

Click here to see which LEAs would be put into this pilot.

You can read about the committee hearing at which these bills were approved here.

Please be contacting House members this weekend in support of HB 375 and HB 389.  Remind them of the issues that LEAs struggle with under the current calendar start date, particularly the problem of high school exams administered after winter break and the burdens for students when high school fall and spring semesters are out of alignment with local community college fall and spring semesters.

Local Calendar Flexibility Bills

53 local calendar flexibility bills have been filed for over 90 LEAs.  Click here to see the flexibility bills that have been filed.

SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION/CAPITAL FUNDING

In conjunction with outside partners, NCSBA has worked with key legislators to get a number of bills filed giving LEAs a menu of options for addressing school capital needs.  Below is a list of bills that have been filed this session to assist LEAs with school capital needs.

Public School Bond Issue
SB 542 places a statewide bond on the ballot for public school construction.  If approved by the voters the bond would be $1.9 billion.  Funds would be distributed per the following formula:

$760 million (40%) allocated by ADM (local match required)

$570 million (30%) allocated by Low-Wealth status

$285 million (15%) allocated to High-Growth districts (local match required)

$285 million (15%) allocated to districts in small counties

The bond would provide a significant one-time infusion of school capital funding for the first time in over 20 years.  If SB 542 passes the bond would be placed on the November 2018 ballot.
Sponsors:  Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph; Sen. Valerie Foushee, D-Orange; Sen. Rick Gunn, R-Alamance

Local Option Revenues
HB 333, HB 437, SB 166 would authorize counties to levy an additional local sales tax of up to one-half cent to raise revenue for school construction needs or supplement teacher salaries.  The additional local sales tax would have to be approved by voters in the county via referendum.
HB 333 Sponsors: Rep. Susan Martin, R-Pitt; Rep. Howard Hunter, D-Hertford; Rep. Sam Watford, R-Davidson; Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln
HB 437 Sponsors: Rep. David Rogers, R-Rutherford
SB 166 Sponsors: Sen. Shirley Randleman, R-Wilkes

Lottery Funding
HB 481 restores statutory directives for how lottery funds are to be allocated, including the requirement that 40% go to school capital.  A provision in the 2013 budget removed all lottery allocation guidelines from statute and made the annual distribution purely a decision of the General Assembly.  Putting these directives back into statute would be a starting point for moving the school construction allocation back to the lottery’s original promise of 40%.
Sponsors:  Rep. James Boles, R-Moore; Rep. Allen McNeill, R-Randolph

SB 234 (Part 4) creates additional lottery revenue through expanded advertising and uses the additional revenue to fund school capital needs in Tier I and II counties (up to $10 million annually in any one county).  This is in addition to the regular allotment of capital funds that come from the lottery.
Sponsors:  Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph; Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow

SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY/A-F

Two weeks after passing legislation to equalize how performance and growth count towards a school’s A-F grade, the House on Thursday sent the Senate a separate, alternative option for revising NC’s accountability system.

HB 458 proposes an idea for restructuring the A-F grading system to have a school’s performance and growth results broken out separately and assigned their own separate A-F grades.  The sponsors argue that this could be a more transparent way of doing A-F grades instead of having performance and growth blended to produce one grade.  HB 458 does not impact the 50/50 bill the House passed two weeks ago but rather gives the Senate another option to consider in reforming the accountability system.  HB 458 also makes the necessary changes to the accountability system to ensure it is aligned with the Every Student Succeeds Act.

OTHER NOTABLE EDUCATION BILLS FILED THIS WEEK

Local Funding Disputes/Sch Bd Lawsuit Authority
SB 531 is the Senate’s version of legislation to strip school boards of their power to initiate lawsuits challenging local funding sufficiency.  The House version has already been filed (HB 305).  A report on the local education funding dispute resolution process is expected to be released by May 1.
Sponsors of SB 531:  Sen. Tommy Tucker, R-Union; Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick

Charter Schools/Local Funding
SB 562.  This bill would disentangle the local funding relationship between local school boards and charter schools.  County commissioners would appropriate local monies directly to charter schools with local students enrolled instead of the local school board having to cut a check to the charter.  This is an item on the NCSBA legislative agenda for 2017-18.
Sponsors of SB 562:  Sen. Tommy Tucker, R-Union; Sen. David Curtis, R-Lincoln; Sen. Tom McInnis, R-Richmond

Opportunity Scholarships
SB 483 attempts to put more accountability into the Opportunity Scholarship school voucher program by raising the standards of assessments that must be administered to students attending the school through a voucher and also ensuring more voucher schools publicize data about the performance of their voucher students.
Sponsors:  Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram, D-Northampton; Sen. David Curtis, R-Lincoln; Sen. Ben Clark, D-Hoke

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, April 3

1:30 PM
The Senate will convene for session.

7:00 PM
The House will convene for session.

Tuesday, April 4

10:00 AM
The House K-12 Education Committee will meet and consider the following bills:
HB 117- Protect Students in Schools
HB 149- Students W/Dyslexia and Dyscalculia
HB 132- High Achieving Tuition Scholarships

10:00 AM
The House State and Local Government Committee will meet and consider the following bills:
HB 447- Lexington City Bd. Of Ed./Change to Election

Ramona MillerLegislative Alert – Mar 31