Legislative Alerts

May 20 Legislative Update

May 20 Legislative Update

Charter Advocates Continue to Push HB 539

The charter school community is continuing to push strongly for the House to concur with HB 539.  While it remains important that you maintain contact with your House member(s) in opposition, it is also critical to be making local contacts to develop grassroots opposition to HB 539 within your communities.  Reach out to local PTAs and other community groups that support public education, make sure they understand what is at stake with HB 539, and get them involved in spreading the word to parents and concerned citizens.  These types of efforts are happening on the charter side.  For example, proponents of HB 539 are spreading their message of “fair funding” on social media using the hashtag #fairfundsnc.  Charter schools are also sending to their parents call to action messages such as this (click here).  School districts need to be countering these efforts.  Remember that HB 539 could come up at any time.

Resources & Points to Remember

Below are materials and informational items to circulate in your communities.

*A one-page sheet with talking points on HB 539 can be found here.

*A short video on this issue can be found here.  Make sure to continue sharing this video on social media and encourage others to do so.

*A longer Myth/Fact sheet on the issue can be found here.

*Legislators and others need to understand the pots of monies that school districts would have to transfer if HB 539 becomes law (reimbursements, gifts, federal grants, etc.).  A review of the types of monies at risk can be found here. 

*Charter schools can already seek out many of the monies at issue in HB 539 without having to take them from school districts.  For example, school districts would have to transfer E-rate reimbursements under HB 539 but charters already have the ability to seek out E-Rate reimbursements if they so choose.

*There are policies and laws that limit how federal grants and reimbursements are used and which students may be served.  Charters continue to claim that despite these policies and laws, they should be entitled to a share of federal grants and reimbursements that a school district receives.

*Charters continue to claim that charter students receive only 75 cents for every dollar provided to LEAs.  This is a flawed calculation based on factors unrelated to per-pupil funding and reflects an apples-to-oranges comparison of district and charter funding.

Budget News

House Budget Approved-Senate Moves Next

The House passed its version of the 2016-17 budget this week.  Including compensation increases, the House budget increases appropriations for K-12 public schools by 4.4% above the original spending target for 2016-17.  Teachers with 5-25 years of experience receive an average 4.1% salary increase, with the largest increases going to mid-career teachers.  Other teachers will get a one-time $1,000 bonus.  Most school administrators will get an average 2% increase (with some receiving a $500 bonus).  Non-certified and central office staff will get a 2% raise and a one-time $500 bonus.  Click here to read the Money Report.  See below for more details on the House budget and what happened as it moved through the chamber this week.

On the Senate side, budget writers have said that their budget is not likely to be very different from that of the House except on salaries.  The biggest difference between the House and Senate budgets is expected to be on salaries for teachers, school employees, and State employees.  It is expected that the Senate will turn its budget around within two weeks.  One thing to watch for in the Senate budgetis whether it includes the language from SB 862- Opp. Scholarships Forward Funding, a bill filed by Sen. Chad Barefoot (R-Wake).  It would significantly increase funding for the Opportunity Scholarship voucher program.  A reserve fund would be created and there would be an automatic transfer of funds from the General Fund to this reserve fund to be used to award new vouchers.  Funding for the program would be increased from $17.6 million to $44.8 million for the 2018-19 school year.  This number would rise by $10 million each year thereafter until it reaches $134.8 million in the 2027-28 school year.

House Budget Process

Several amendments were offered and passed in both the House Appropriations Committee and on the House floor throughout the week as the budget was developed.  The most notable amendments for K-12 public schools dealt with virtual charters and the Opportunity Scholarship school voucher program.

Virtual Charters

Rep. James Langdon (R-Johnston) ran an amendment touching on the virtual charter pilot language.  A provision had been included in the K-12 education section that allowed the two virtual charter pilot schools to have a higher withdrawal rate than the original virtual charter legislation allowed.  The same provision would also legislatively mandate that several types of students are to be excluded from the withdrawal rate, making it easier for the virtual charters to stay below the higher withdrawal rate caps.  Rep. Langdon’s amendment attempted to remove this provision and return to the original virtual charter language, which set a 25% cap and allowed the State Board of Education to determine what types of students should and should not be counted  in the withdrawal rate.  This amendment passed 59-56.

About an hour later, Rep. Rob Bryan (R-Mecklenburg) successfully ran an amendment that undid most of the Langdon amendment.  Under the Bryan amendment, the rate cap stays at 25% (the existing level) but the State Board would still be directed to exclude five categories of students from the calculation of the withdrawal rate.  The State Board, not the General Assembly, should determine how to calculate a fair withdrawal rate for these schools, as they are the body in charge of overseeing these programs and receiving periodic updates on how they are doing.  Another troubling provision in the virtual charter language would increase the portion of virtual charter teachers who can be non-NC residents from 10% to 20%.

Opportunity Scholarships

An amendment from  Rep. Jeffrey Elmore (R-Wilkes) in the House Appropriations Committee modified the proposed changes to the school voucher program.  The current law allows vouchers to be awarded to kindergarten and grade 1 students even if they have not previously been enrolled in a public school, but caps the portion of newly awarded vouchers they can receive at 35%.  Under the original House budget language, Grade 1 students would have been removed from this cap, meaning that there would be no limit on how many new vouchers they could receive.  Rep. Elmore’s amendment changed this so that grade 1 students go back to being subject to the cap, but the cap itself would go up from 35% to 40%.


Other Notable House Budget Provisions

Vouchers.  There is an increase of $5.8  million to the special education voucher program.

ADM Growth.  Public school ADM growth is fully funded ($46.8 million).

Literacy Coaches.  There is an appropriation of $25 million to put K-3 Literacy Coaches in the lowest performing 20% of elementary schools across the state.  This would be the first State appropriation for literacy coaches in any public schools since the line-item was zeroed out in 2009.

Advanced Teaching Roles/Elevating Educators Act.  Modified language from last session’s Elevating Educators Act is included in the subcommittee’s approved budget.  This provision establishes a three-year pilot program where 10 LEAs would experiment with models of differentiated pay for teachers linked to advanced teaching roles (new or additional roles and responsibilities).  There would be a $1 million set aside for this pilot.

A-F School Performance Grades.  The formula for calculating A-F letter grades for schools is changed from 80% assessment scores 20% growth to a 50-50 split between the two components.  The 15-point scale is also made permanent (it is scheduled to end with this year’s set of grades).

Read to Achieve.  Like last year’s House budget, this year’s House budgets contains several provisions to improve the Read to Achieve program.  Among these would be a requirement for the SBE to expand the types of diagnostic and formative assessments school districts could use to measure reading progress in grades K-3.

Other Funding Increases.  Digital Learning Plan ($9.4 million); Textbooks/Digital Resources ($11.7 million)

Achievement School District

There are lots of conversations happening on House side about the Achievement School District issue and bill.  Be sure to watch your email closely for updates and notable developments on this.

Click here for the NCSBA issue brief on this.

Union School Boards/County Comm Funding Lawsuit Moratorium

A bill was filed this week by Sen. Tommy Tucker (R-Union) to prohibit the Union school board from initiating a legal challenge over the sufficiency of local funding from their county commissioners in the 2016-17 school year.  The bill is SB 881.


Bills

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

Upcoming Legislative Meetings and Events

Monday, May 23

4:00 PM
The Senate will convene for session.

5:00 PM
The House will convene for session.

Tuesday, May 24

 

Wednesday, May 25

 

Thursday, May 26

North Carolina School Boards AssociationMay 20 Legislative Update
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May 6 Legislative Update

May 6 Legislative Update

Friday, May 6, 2016 3:00 pm

 

State Budget Update

The Senate and House have agreed on a $22.225 billion spending target for the 2016-17 fiscal year State budget.  This is approximately 0.5% smaller than the total State spending proposal put forward by Gov. McCrory.  It also exceeds the 2% spending increase over the 2015-16 budget that the Senate leader has publicly mentioned.  Agreeing on a total State spending target up front should significantly speed up the budgeting process.

On Thursday, the House Education Appropriations Committee, along with the other House appropriation committees, were given their spending targets.  The chairs indicated that they would be working over the weekend and would have something for the Committee’s consideration on Tuesday or no later than Wednesday.  If this schedule is adhered to the House version of the budget could be completed within the next two weeks.

The House Education Appropriations Committee met three times this week to review the current budgets of and listen to expansion requests from each of the three public education sectors: K-12, Community Colleges, and Universities.  The SBE’s expansion requests for 2016-17 include: teacher pay, digital learning enhancements, professional development, funding for school turnaround efforts, leadership programs for administrators, instructional supplies, assistant principals, nurses, child nutrition, and Cooperative Innovative High Schools.  State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. June Atkinson and State Board Chair Bill Cobey appeared at Tuesday’s House Ed Appropriations Committee hearing to talk about those SBE budget priorities.  You can watch a video of those remarks here and here.  A video of legislators posing questions to Dr. Atkinson and Chairman Cobey is here.

On Thursday, the Committee took public comments including from NCSBA.

LEA/Charter Fund Sharing Issue

HB 539
It is important that you continue to communicate with your House member(s) in opposition to HB 539, the legislation to shift funds from LEAs to charter schools
.  Make sure legislators understand the pots of monies that are at risk if the bill becomes law.  Click here to learn more about the pots of monies that HB 539 would obligate school districts to share.  Remember that HB 539 can come up at any moment and would receive only an up or down vote (not amendable) on the House floor. There was some indication earlier this week that the bill might move as early as yesterday.  That was later averted when a meeting was set up for groups representing LEAs and charter schools this upcoming Monday.

Video and Grassroots Advocacy 
Also be sure to continue sharing the video that touches on the LEA/charter school funding sharing issue.  The link to the video is: https://youtu.be/Ai1al22B3DU

Also use this fact sheet on the issue at this link: http://www.ncsbac.org/charter-school-funding-issues

Alternative Charter School Funding Model

During the break between legislative sessions, NCSBA and NCASA convened a group of school board members, superintendents, finance officers, and board attorneys to see if we could develop another way to provide funding for charter schools.

The proposed new funding model, which is described here, provides charter schools with their own funding streams at both the State and local levels.  It is based upon charter schools being treated like a city LEA.  This proposal was approved by the NCSBA Board of Directors contingent upon approval of School Superintendents Association and a statewide convening of board chairs, superintendents, finance officers, and board attorneys.  In light of the meeting being set for Monday (see above story) this proposal was presented to a representative of the NC Public Charter Schools Association on Thursday so that it could be part of the discussions.

School Board Local Funding Lawsuit Authority

One of the top three legislative goals of the NC County Commissioners Associations is:

“Seek legislation to repeal the statutory authority under NCGS 115C-431(c) that allows local school boards to file suit against a county board of commissioners over county appropriations for education.

  • The current version of HB561 includes a five-year moratorium on such lawsuits. The bill is in conference and is eligible for short session consideration.
  • With more counties experiencing threats of lawsuits, more legislators are interested in the issue. Those from counties that have experienced more extreme conflict between commissioners and school boards have grown more adamant that the issue be addressed.
  • Please continue communicating with your House member(s) in opposition to the provision in HB 561 that would put a moratorium on school board legal challenges to local funding.

Talking Points on HB 561 to Communicate to House Members

  • If passed, HB 561 has the potential to significantly alter the balance between school boards and county commissions.
  • The threat of school boards utilizing the legal action option gives county commissioners incentive to negotiate and take school board concerns seriously both during the normal budget development process and mediation.
  • Without the legal action option, county commissioners would have no reason to move away from their position on local funding, making the mediation process essentially meaningless.
  • There is also the question of how local boards of education will fulfill the constitutional obligation to provide an opportunity for a sound, basic education if this option is not available. The only other option would be the State.
  • The House has already spoken on this issue last session when it voted down a bill to permanently revoke this authority.

Bills

New Bills: Click here to see NCSBA-tracked bills that were filed this week.

Upcoming Legislative Meetings and Events

Monday, May 9

11:30 AM
The Senate will convene.

3:00
The House will convene.

Tuesday, May 10

Wednesday, May 11

Thursday, May 12

North Carolina School Boards AssociationMay 6 Legislative Update
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May 13 Legislative Update

May 13 Legislative Update

Friday, May 13, 2016

 

*LEAs in Grave Danger of Losing Funds to Charters*

HB 539 Update

We know that HB 539– Charter School Funding, was discussed in the House Republican caucus this week.  The charter community is continuing to make a hard push in the House to have this bill moved to the floor for a vote.  It is critically important that you communicate with your House member(s) throughout the weekend to express how harmful this legislation would be for your school district and ask them to oppose it.  Remember that if HB 539 goes to the House floor it would only need to receive an up or down vote (not amendable).

When communicating about HB 539 make sure to focus on these points:

(1) Specify the pots of program specific monies that your district would have to transfer if this bill becomes law (reimbursements, gifts, federal grants, etc.).  Click here to learn more about what program specific funds would have to be transferred to charters.

(2) Emphasize that charter schools can already seek out their own gifts, federal grants, reimbursements etc. without having to take them from school districts.  For example, school districts would have to transfer E-Rate reimbursements under HB 539 but charters already have the ability to seek out E-Rate reimbursements if they so choose.

Video and Grassroots Advocacy

Be sure to continue sharing the video that touches on the LEA/charter school funding sharing issue.  The link to the video is: https://youtu.be/Ai1al22B3DU

Also use this fact sheet on the issue at this link: http://www.ncsbac.org/charter-school-funding-issues

HB 1111 – Alternative Charter School Funding Bill

As we reported to you last week, NCSBA and NCASA brought together a group of school board members, superintendents, finance officers, and board attorneys to see if we could develop another way to structure the charter school funding system.  What this group came up with was a compromise that disentangles LEA and charter school funding altogether by providing charter schools with their own funding streams at both the State and local levels.  Legislation to accomplish this was filed this week as HB 1111.  The bill is sponsored by Reps. Charles Jeter (R-Mecklenburg), Leo Daughtry (R-Johnston), Linda Johnson (R-Cabarrus), and Robert Reives (D-Chatham).  You can read more about what HB 1111 does here.

The goals of HB 1111 are to:

(1) Disentangle any financial relationship between LEAs and charter schools.

(2) Provide additional funding for charters (approximately $48 million) that does not come at the expense of LEAs.

(3) Create a system that does not foster lawsuits.

Some in the charter community are already circulating claims that HB 1111 would take money away from and harm charter schools.  The fact is that HB 1111 would generate approximately $48 million in additional funding for charter schools in addition to allowing them to ask county commissioners for capital funding.  To read the details about what HB 1111 does click here.

Budget News

House Education Budget Approved

Budget subcommittees in the House met Thursday to unveil, review, and advance their sections of the House’s 2016-17 budget adjustments.  On the K-12 public education side, the House Ed Appropriations Subcommittee started with a $8.419 billion total spending plan for this fiscal year as established by the biennium budget enacted last session.  The subcommittee proposed an increase of $12.9 million, or 0.2%.  Salaries and benefits for teachers and educators were not part of these adjustments as those items are handled by the full appropriations chairs.  Click here to see the money report and here to see the special provisions.

Below are the notable components of the education budget approved by the subcommittee.

Virtual Charter Pilots.  The approved budget would loosen requirements for the two virtual charter school pilots.

(1) It would allow the virtual charters to have a higher withdrawal rate than the original legislation.  Currently, neither virtual charter can have a student withdrawal rate higher than 24% in any school year.  The approved education budget would raise that to 34%.

(2) It would exclude additional types of students from the withdrawal rate, making it easier for the virtual charters to stay below the withdrawal rate caps.

(3) It would increase the portion of virtual charter teachers who can be non-NC residents from 10% to 20%.

School Voucher Programs.  No new money would be appropriated for the Opportunity Scholarship school voucher program but there would be a statutory change to expand the portion of vouchers that can be awarded to 1st grade students who have not attended a public school.  The current law allows vouchers to be awarded to kindergarten and grade 1 students even if they have not previously been enrolled in a public school, but caps the portion of newly awarded vouchers they can receive at 35%. Under the House budget language, Grade 1 students would be removed from this cap, meaning that there is no limit on how many new vouchers they can receive whether or not they have previously attended a public school.

There is also an increase of $5.8  million to the special education voucher program.

ADM Growth.  Public school ADM growth is fully funded ($46.8 million).

Literacy Coaches.  There is an appropriation of $25 million to put K-3 Literacy Coaches in the lowest performing 20% of elementary schools across the state.  This would be the first State appropriation for literacy coaches in any public schools since the line-item was zeroed out in 2009.

Advanced Teaching Roles/Elevating Educators Act.  Modified language from last session’s Elevating Educators Act is included in the subcommittee’s approved budget.  This provision establishes a three-year pilot program where 10 LEAs would experiment with models of differentiated pay for teachers linked to advanced teaching roles (new or additional roles and responsibilities).  There would be a $1 million set aside for this pilot.

A-F School Performance Grades.  The formula for calculating A-F letter grades for schools is changed from 80% assessment scores 20% growth to a 50-50 split between the two components.  The 15-point scale is also made permanent (it is scheduled to end with this year’s set of grades).

Read to Achieve.  Like last year’s House budget, this year’s House budgets contains several provisions to improve the Read to Achieve program.  Among these would be a requirement for the SBE to expand the types of diagnostic and formative assessments school districts could use to measure reading progress in grades K-3.

Other Funding Increases.  Digital Learning Plan ($9.4 million); Textbooks/Digital Resources ($11.7 million)


House Budget Timeline

The full House budget, including details of employee compensation, is expected to be released Monday morning.  An all-day meeting of the full House Appropriations Committee is set for Tuesday to take up and amend the budget proposal.  From there, the budget is expected to move to the House floor on Wednesday and be approved Thursday.  We also know that the bill number for the budget bill will be HB 1030.

Notable Bills Filed This Week

HB 1080- Achievement School District.  Rep. Rob Bryan’s legislation to mandate that certain low-performing schools be turned over to charter operators via an Achievement School District was officially filed this week.  The bill is HB 1080.  NCSBA opposes this bill because of the significant mechanical and structural problems with dividing school operation responsibility in addition to the lack of evidence of success with this model in other states with this model.  Click here to read more via NCSBA’s Issue Brief.

SB 862- Opp. Scholarships Forward Funding.  This bill was filed by Sen. Chad Barefoot (R-Wake).  It would significantly increase funding for the Opportunity Scholarship voucher program.  A reserve fund would be created for voucher awards and there would be an automatic transfer of funds from the General Fund to this reserve fund that would automatically increase each year.  Funding for the program would be increased from $17.6 million to $44.8 million for the 2018-19 school year.  This number would rise by $10 million each year thereafter until it reaches $134.8 million in the 2027-28 school year.

New Bills: Click here to see all NCSBA-tracked bills that were filed this week.

Upcoming Legislative Meetings and Events

Monday, May 16

10:00 AM
The House will convene for session.

11:30 AM
The Senate will convene for session.

Tuesday, May 17

9:30 AM
The House Appropriations Committee will meet to take up the House budget.

Wednesday, May 18

Thursday, May 19

 

North Carolina School Boards AssociationMay 13 Legislative Update
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June 3 Legislative Update

ASD Bill Passes House

HB 1080- Achievement School District, passed the House Thursday by a vote of 60-49 (click here to see the final vote tally).  There was a good deal of debate on the floor about the wisdom of transferring some of the lowest performing public schools to for-profit charter operators.  A number of members crossed party lines in the vote.  Notably, 10 members were not present for the vote and one did not vote at all.

The ASD bill now moves to the Senate.  The Senate has put forth what appears to be an alternative idea for dealing with low-performing schools (see the Senate budget review below).  Please start communicating with your Senator(s) in opposition to HB 1080.

One of the noteworthy aspects of the ASD bill is that much of its backing is coming from out-of-state groups and money.  Click here to read a more in-depth investigative report on this.

HB 1080 Talking Points

  • HB 1080 requires local school districts to maintain school buildings despite the fact the State has taken control of the campuses.If the State is going to take control of a school, then it should be responsible for the maintenance of the building.
  • The local school district will also continue to provide transportation for students to the school.Again, this is another responsibility the school district should not be required to maintain if the state assumes control of a school.
  • This framework could cause a number of staffing issues for school districts.
  • The ASD model has not shown to be successful in other states that have experimented with similar measures, including Tennessee and Michigan.
  • A school’s identification of low-performing and eligibility to be put into the ASD is based on a school grading system with which the North Carolina House has openly not agreed.Many schools that could be considered perennially low-performing could be improving in growth but remaining stagnant in achievement.
  • Four actions were made permissible to North Carolina school districts for low-performing schools per the Race to The Top Grant provisions, of which one was to operate a low performing school like a charter. School districts have not implemented all of these available procedures.
  • There is a new reform model created called the Principal Turnaround Model, which would allow for increased compensation packages for new principals in select low-performing schools. However, the number of schools around the state that can use this model would be capped at 5.
  • The bill attempts to essentially reward districts that transfer schools to the ASD by allowing them to create “Innovation Zones,” areas where they can operate schools with charter-like flexibility. But this provision is a red herring because school districts already have the authority to apply to the SBE to operate some schools with charter-like flexibility and some have already utilized this option.

Senate Budget Approved

The Senate completed its budget work this week, releasing the full document late Tuesday night, moving it through the appropriations committee the following day, and then taking it up on the Senate floor Thursday/Friday.  Final approval was given early this morning.

Like the House, the Senate’s budget increases K-12 education spending above what had been budgeted for fiscal year 2016-17.  The Senate’s K-12 spending expansion is 1.2% smaller than that proposed by the House (3.2% vs. 4.4%).  However, the Senate proposes a larger teacher pay package with teachers receiving salary increases averaging 6.2% (compared to 4.1% average increases in the House budget).  The Senate budget also restores yearly step increases to the teacher salary schedule.  School administrators receive step increases and bonuses ($2,000 bonuses for principals and $500 bonuses for assistant principals).  For noncertified personnel, $15 million is budgeted for increases and bonuses based upon local policies (no across-the-board increase).

The major K-12 policy provision in the budget is a dramatic expansion of the Opportunity Scholarship voucher program.  Spending on vouchers would double in 2016-17 and a reserve fund would be created to forward fund the program.  Language would be put into statute creating an automatic $10 million increase in appropriations each fiscal year to be directed to the reserve fund over the next decade, topping out at $134.8 million in 2027-28.

Other notable Senate budget provisions:

Year-Round School Definition.  Districts that have year-round schools would have to follow a new definition of year-round school.  The new definition would be:

“a multi-track school that remains in session for the entire calendar year by utilizing at least one of the following plans:

(1) A plan that divides students into four groups and requires each to be in school for three assigned and staggered quarters each school year.

(2) A plan that provides that students shall be scheduled to attend 45 days of classes followed by 15 days of vacation repeated throughout the school year.

(3) A plan that divides the school year into five nine-week sessions of classes and requires each student to attend four of the five nine-week sessions to complete the school year.”

          *If this new definition will cause problems for your school district please let us know immediately.*

Virtual Charter Schools.  There would be identical language to the House provision requiring the SBE to exclude four categories of students when calculating the withdrawal rate for the virtual charter pilots.

ADM Growth.  Public school ADM growth is fully funded ($46.8 million).

Performance Pay for Grade 3 Teachers.  $10 million is set aside for a pilot program where third grade teachers are given salary supplements for achieving high growth scores on student reading assessments.  Half of the total set-aside would go to the teachers in the top 25% of statewide grade 3 reading growth scores and the other half would go to each LEA’s top 25% of grade 3 reading growth achievers.

Teacher Assistant Scholarship Pilots.  A pilot program would be set up for Anson, Franklin, Moore, Richmond, and Scotland to provide tuition assistance payments to TAs seeking the academic requirements for full teaching licensure.

Lab Schools.  Each UNC school of education would be required to establish a laboratory school.  The purpose of the lab schools would be to “improve student performance in local school administrative units with low-performing schools by providing an enhanced education program for students residing in those units and to provide exposure and training for teachers and principals to successfully address challenges existing in high needs school settings.”  These lab schools would operate similar to and be funded like charter schools.

Click here for a comparison chart of the line-item adjustments in the House and Senate budgets prepared by DPI.

Click here for a comparison of the teacher pay plans in the House and Senate budgets.

House Budget Information

Click here for a summary of the House-passed budget.

Click here to read the House budget money report.


Common Core/High School Math

The Senate and the State Board of Education appear to be on a collision course over the issue of High School Mathematics content standards and course sequencing.  A series of revisions to the High School Math standards approved by the State Board this week retain the controversial Integrated Math courses that high schools have been using for the past five years.  But just a day before the vote, the Senate Education Committee brought a bill up for discussion (HB 657) to require the State Board to scrap what they have developed for revisions and go back to the traditional Algebra I/Geometry/Algebra II courses that were used prior to 2011.  The Board would have to implement the Algebra I/Geometry/Algebra II standards for the school year that begins Fall of 2016.  It is expected that Senate Ed will take action on the bill next Wednesday.  Click here for a summary of the bill.

HB 539

The charter school community is continuing to push strongly for the House to concur with HB 539.  Continue contacting your House member(s) in opposition.  Also continue communicating locally to develop grassroots opposition to HB 539 within your communities.  Remember that HB 539 could come up at any time.

Resources & Points to Remember

Below are materials and informational items to circulate in your communities.

*A one-page sheet with talking points on HB 539 can be found here.

*A short video on this issue can be found here.  Make sure to continue sharing this video on social media and encourage others to do so.

*A longer Myth/Fact sheet on the issue can be found here.

*Legislators and others need to understand the pots of monies that school districts would have to transfer if HB 539 becomes law (reimbursements, gifts, federal grants, etc.).  A review of the types of monies at risk can be found here. 

*Charter schools can already seek out many of the monies at issue in HB 539 without having to take them from school districts.  For example, school districts would have to transfer E-rate reimbursements under HB 539 but charters already have the ability to seek out E-Rate reimbursements if they so choose.

*There are policies and laws that limit how federal grants and reimbursements are used and which students may be served.  Charters continue to claim that despite these policies and laws, they should be entitled to a share of federal grants and reimbursements that a school district receives.

*Charters continue to claim that charter students receive only 75 cents for every dollar provided to LEAs.  This is a flawed calculation based on factors unrelated to per-pupil funding and reflects an apples-to-oranges comparison of district and charter funding.

Bills

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

Upcoming Legislative Meetings and Events

Monday, June 6

7:00 PM
The House and Senate will convene for session.

Tuesday, June 7

1:00 PM
The House Elections Committee will meet and take up the following bills: HB 1133-Partisan Election/Transylvania Bd. of Ed.

Wednesday, June 8

Thursday, June 9

North Carolina School Boards AssociationJune 3 Legislative Update
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June 10 Legislative Alert

HB 539/Charter Fund Sharing Hearing

The House K-12 Education Committee this week discussed but took no action on HB 539, legislation to require LEAs to transfer additional moneys to charter schools.  Lawmakers shared their thoughts on the bill and then took public comment.  The public comment period involved remarks from 13 individuals, including Guilford County school board member Linda Welborn.

HB 539’s future is unclear at this point.  The committee has three choices: do nothing, make a recommendation to not concur, or make a recommendation to concur.  Please continue to stay in communication with your House member(s) in opposition to HB 539.  Click here for member contact information.

Resources & Points to Remember

Below are materials and informational items to circulate in your communities.

*A one-page sheet with talking points on HB 539 can be found here.

*A short video on this issue can be found here.  Make sure to continue sharing this video on social media and encourage others to do so.

*A longer Myth/Fact sheet on the issue can be found here.

*Legislators and others need to understand the pots of monies that school districts would have to transfer if HB 539 becomes law (reimbursements, gifts, federal grants, etc.).  A review of the types of monies at risk can be found here. 

*Charter schools can already seek out many of the monies at issue in HB 539 without having to take them from school districts.  For example, school districts would have to transfer E-rate reimbursements under HB 539 but charters already have the ability to seek out E-Rate reimbursements if they so choose.

*There are policies and laws that limit how federal grants and reimbursements are used and which students may be served.  Charters continue to claim that despite these policies and laws, they should be entitled to a share of federal grants and reimbursements that a school district receives.

*Charters continue to claim that charter students receive only 75 cents for every dollar provided to LEAs.  This is a flawed calculation based on factors unrelated to per-pupil funding and reflects an apples-to-oranges comparison of district and charter funding.

Budget News

As expected, the House did not concur with the Senate budget this week.  Leaders of both chambers are negotiating a final budget deal.  Now is the time to voice any concerns you have about particular provisions in either or both budgets.  In particular, those of you who have year-round schools and are concerned about the definition established in the Senate’s budget need to be communicating your concerns.  Click here to read more on the year-round provision and other major items in the Senate budget.  Click here for a summary of the House-passed budget.

Click here to see the line-item adjustments made by each budget, as prepared by DPI.

High School Math Standards

A bill requiring school districts to offer two separate high school Math tracks passed a Senate Committee this week and has been placed on the Senate’s calendar for Monday, June 13.  HB 657, which passed the Senate Education Committee, would mandate that all school districts offer BOTH the current Math I, II, III AND the old Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II high school course sequences. Students/parents would be able to choose which high school Math track they want.  This has the potential to cause significant issues for small high schools and small school districts.  If you believe this bill is going to cause staffing or other issues in your district please communicate with your Senator(s) over the weekend.  Also please share with us any examples of staffing or other issues you are using to demonstrate how this bill could be detrimental.  Click here to find Senator contact information.

Achievement School District

HB 1080- Achievement School District, has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee.  Please continue to be in contact with Senator(s) in opposition to this bill.

Click here for the NCSBA issue brief on this.

Bills

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

Upcoming Legislative Meetings and Events

Monday, June 13

7:00 PM
The House and Senate will convene for session.  The Senate will consider HB 657- Math Standard Course of Study Revisions and HB 242 to make various changes to charter school laws.

Tuesday, June 14

1:00 PM
The Senate Finance Committee will meet and consider the following pertinent bills:
SB888- Buncombe School Capital Fund Commission

Wednesday, June 15

Thursday, June 16

North Carolina School Boards AssociationJune 10 Legislative Alert
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2016 Legislative Summary and Narrative

NCSBA has assembled the following documents to give you an overview of how the 2016 legislative session affected local school boards and public schools.

2016 legislative summary: summaries of all the relevant bills and budget provisions enacted in the 2016 session that impact local school boards and public schools. Note that some bills on the list have not been signed into law as of today, July 22. We will send out an updated summary once all the bills have received final action.

2016 session narrative: this document describes the highlights of NCSBA’s activities representing local boards of education at the General Assembly this session.

North Carolina School Boards Association2016 Legislative Summary and Narrative
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July 1 Legislative Alert

NCSBA Legislative Update
July 1, 2016


Adjournment

Lawmakers are wrapping up the 2016 session. They are finalizing legislative work and are expected to end the 2016 session today.

2016-17 Budget

A compromise budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year was released to the public on Monday. The Senate has passed the budget. The House gave final approval today and will be sending the budget to the Governor.

The biggest provision in the budget for public schools is an average 4.7% salary increase for teachers. This is closer to the House proposal than the Senate’s (6.7%). In addition, the teacher salary schedule will restore annual step increases for teachers in years 0-14. Once a teacher reaches year 15, he/she will be locked into the same salary for the next 10 years. The provision will raise average teacher salaries to over $50,000 in 2016-17 and $55,000 over the next three years. School administrators will receive a step increase and a 1.5% increase to base salaries at each step. Noncertified school personnel will also receive a 1.5% salary increase. School administrators and noncertified personnel will also receive a one-time 0.5% bonus. Below are the notable items that were included and not included in the compromise budget.

NOT Included in the Compromise Budget:

The provision to restrict the definition of year-round schools was NOT included in the compromise budget. In its place is a requirement for all local boards of education to report to the legislature about the start and end times for their schools.

No funding was appropriated for the Early College High Schools that requested State funding for the 2016-17 school year.

Included in the Compromise Budget:

Opportunity Scholarship Voucher Program.  Doubles funding in 2016-17. Establishes a reserve fund to forward fund the program. Creates an automatic $10 million increase in appropriations each fiscal year after 2016-17 to be directed to the reserve fund over the next decade, topping out at $134.8 million in 2027-28.

Non-Teacher Merit Pay.  LEAs will be required to enact policies to award merit pay to non-educator employees. Non-educator employees would be school administrators, central office staff, and noncertified personnel other than teacher assistants. LEAs are to receive $17 million to distribute for the merit pay but it is unclear how the money is to be allocated.

Virtual Charter Pilots

  • Increases the percentage of teachers who can reside out of NC from 10% to 20%.
  • Retains 25% withdrawal rate cap.
  • Requires additional categories of students to not be included in the withdrawal rate calculation: any student enrolled less than 30 days; students who move out of state; students who withdraw for a family, personal or medical reason.

ADM Growth.  $46.8 million to fully fund ADM growth.

Performance Pay for Grade 3 Teachers.  $10 million is set aside for a pilot program where third grade teachers are given salary supplements for achieving high growth scores on student reading assessments.  Half of the total set-aside would go to the teachers in the top 25% of statewide grade 3 reading growth scores and the other half would go to each LEA’s top 25% of grade 3 reading growth achievers.

Advanced Teaching Roles/Elevating Educators Act.  Establishes a three-year pilot program where 10 LEAs would experiment with models of differentiated pay for teachers linked to advanced teaching roles (new or additional roles and responsibilities). Supplements could be up to 30% above what is set for the teacher on the State salary schedule. The appropriation for this pilot is $1 million.

A-F School Performance Grades.  The 15-point grading scale is extended for another three years (it is scheduled to end with this year’s set of grades).

Lab Schools.  Each UNC school of education will be required to establish a laboratory school. The purpose of the lab schools would be to “improve student performance in local school administrative units with low-performing schools by providing an enhanced education program for students residing in those units and to provide exposure and training for teachers and principals to successfully address challenges existing in high needs school settings.”  These lab schools will operate similar to and be funded like charter schools.

Click here for the text of the compromise budget. Click here for the money report.

Achievement School District Bill Passes

HB 1080- Achievement School Districtpassed the Senate after a few amendments from the floor. The House then concurred in those changes and the bill is now on its way to the Governor for his signature. One amendment to the bill tightened the criteria for selecting a charter management organization to take over a school in the Achievement School District. Another amendment allows Charlotte-Mecklenburg to create an Innovation Zone among its Project LIFT schools and also include five low-performing schools. A few Senators tried to run amendments to prohibit their LEAs from having any schools transferred to the ASD but those amendments all failed.

The Governor has 30 days to sign or veto the bill. Please contact the Governor’s office and ask that he veto HB 1080.

Talking Points on HB 1080

  • The ASD framework has not shown to be successful in other states that have experimented with similar measures, including Tennessee and Michigan.
  • HB 1080 creates more bureaucracy and big government, yet another example of big brother knows best. The assumption at the heart of HB 1080 is that the low-performing school problem lies almost primarily with local administrators and staff when actually many times the problems run much deeper.
  • Four actions were made permissible to North Carolina school districts for low-performing schools per the Race to The Top Grant provisions, of which one was to operate a low performing school like a charter. School districts have not implemented all of these available procedures.
  • HB 1080 requires local school districts to maintain school buildings despite the fact the State has taken control of the campuses. Also the State Board would be making the final decision in a number of situations where the local board and the charter operator disagree over the need for a renovation or repair. This would put Raleigh in the position of dictating how local officials prioritize capital needs, almost certainly leading to conflict.
  • The local school district will also continue to provide transportation for students to the school. Again, this is another responsibility the school district should not be required to maintain if the state assumes control of a school.
  • This framework could cause a school districts to deal with challenging staffing issues.
  • The criteria for putting a school into the ASD is based on a flawed grading system that only counts school growth as 20% of the grade.
  • The bill tries to entice districts to transfer schools to the ASD by allowing them to create “Innovation Zones,” areas where they can operate schools with charter-like flexibility. This provision is a red herring because school districts already have the authority to apply to the SBE to operate some schools with charter-like flexibility and some have already utilized this option.

School Board Lawsuit Moratorium Removed

A measure to prohibit school boards from taking legal actions against county commissioners was removed from HB 561 by a conference committee. In its place, the conference committee agreed to language establishing a study to look at the process for settling local funding disputes. The study is to be conducted by the legislature’s Program Evaluation Division. Among the issues to be studied as part of this review are: examining school board and county commissioner fund balances; how school boards and county commissioners have used fund balances; historical use of the funding dispute process; an analysis of alternative ways for local school boards to get local funds.

The results of this study are due no later than May 1, 2017. Click here to read the compromise bill, which is on its way to the Governor.

Other Notable Bills

HB 100, which would cut off school capital funds for counties found to be noncompliant with immigration laws, and HB 3, which includes a constitutional amendment to reduce the income tax cap to 5.5%, both passed the Senate this week and were sent to House Rules.

SB 867 is a bill to require criminal background checks for teachers and other school personnel. It has gone through several changes and the most recent version was approved by the Senate Finance Committee this morning. Many of the concerns voiced by LEAs have been addressed in this latest version, which you can find here.

SB330 is a bill filed by Sen. Tom McInnis (R-Richmond) to require all local boards of education to adopt a policy governing change orders to any construction and repair work contracts. The bill outlines criteria that must be addressed in the policy. SB 330 has been signed into law.

HB 657, legislation to create two separate High School Math course tracks, is still in conference as of this morning. Click here to see the conferees.

HB 1074. This bill would require all LEAs to test drinking water in schools older than 30 years for the presence of lead. This bill has passed the House and has been sent to the Senate Health Committee.

North Carolina School Boards AssociationJuly 1 Legislative Alert
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June 24 Legislative Alert

Achievement School District Bill Passes Committee

Legislation to require 5 of the lowest performing elementary schools to be transferred from their local school boards to for-profit charter management groups passed the Senate Education Committee this morning.  HB 1080- Achievement School District as passed by the committee eliminates the Principal Turnaround Model and the Project LIFT pilots but retains the problematic provisions that were contained in the House-passed version.

“We’re talking about a situation in the state that is so bad, where the results are so bad, how can you argue for doing the same thing?” Sen. Chad Barefoot (R-Wake), who is leading the bill in the Senate, said to the committee.  Sen. Angela Bryant (D-Halifax) pointed out that schools could be forced into an ASD without any buy-in or support from the local community and that this would make it difficult for an ASD concept to work.

HB 1080 could come up on the Senate floor as early as Monday afternoon.  NCSBA continues to have both mechanical and conceptual concerns with HB 1080.  Please contact your Senator(s) in opposition throughout the weekend.  Click here to find your Senator(s) and contact information.  Click here for the NCSBA issue brief on this.  See below for short talking points.

Talking Points on HB 1080

  • HB 1080 requires local school districts to maintain school buildings despite the fact the State has taken control of the campuses. Also the State Board would be making the final decision in a number of situations where the local board and the charter operator disagree over the need for a renovation or repair.This would put Raleigh in the position of dictating how local officials prioritize capital needs, almost certainly leading to conflict.
  • The local school district will also continue to provide transportation for students to the school. Again, this is another responsibility the school district should not be required to maintain if the state assumes control of a school.
  • This framework could cause a school districts to deal with challenging staffing issues.
  • The ASD framework has not shown to be successful in other states that have experimented with similar measures, including Tennessee and Michigan.
  • Four actions were made permissible to North Carolina school districts for low-performing schools per the Race to The Top Grant provisions, of which one was to operate a low performing school like a charter. School districts have not implemented all of these available procedures.
  • The bill tries to entice districts to transfer schools to the ASD by allowing them to create “Innovation Zones,” areas where they can operate schools with charter-like flexibility. This provision is a red herring because school districts already have the authority to apply to the SBE to operate some schools with charter-like flexibility and some have already utilized this option.


Tax Cap Const. Amdt.

A constitutional amendment to drop NC’s constitutional income tax rate cap from 10% down to 5.5% passed out of a Senate committee today.  The Senate Rules Committee passed the amendment as part of a larger package of proposed constitutional amendments in HB 3.  The amendments could hit the Senate floor on Monday.  A reduction of the tax cap in this way could be of concern to local school districts for a few reasons:

  • If the State is hamstrung in its ability to raise revenue to keep up with growing student populations at the K-12 level, the burden would likely be further shifted to the local level, creating greater challenges for local communities.
  • It will be more difficult for future lawmakers to effectively respond to unexpected fiscal/economic circumstances.
  • It will also be more difficult for future lawmakers to address teacher salaries and other items needed to keep NC’s public education system competitive regionally.
  • Since there are certain sectors of the budget that grow automatically by statute or federal law (Medicaid, corrections, etc.), lawmakers will be more inclined to respond to a slow-down in revenue by cutting things such as education spending.
  • If lawmakers find themselves needing to raise more revenue, they could potentially turn to the sales tax, which is a more volatile revenue source.

If you wish to voice concerns about the tax cap provision of HB 3 please communicate with your Senator(s) immediately.  Click here to find your Senator(s) and contact information.

Immigration Bill Ties School Capital Funds to Immigration Enforcement

A bill to establish penalties for local governments that fail to follow immigration laws was unveiled in a Senate Committee this week (HB 100) and passed two committees.  The bill would cut off distributions from the Public School Building Capital Fund for a county if either the county government or the county law enforcement agency is found by the State to not be complying with immigration laws or E-Verify.

Since school capital dollars end up with the local school system, this type of enforcement mechanism ultimately punishes school children and the local school district for the actions of a county government or local law enforcement agency.  One entity should not be punished for the actions/inactions of an entirely separate entity.  HB 100 could come up on the Senate floor as soon as Monday.

Let Senator(s) know that withholding school capital funding for the local school system is not the right way to punish counties and law enforcement agencies for failing to follow immigration laws.  Ask them to find another pot of money to use for an enforcement mechanism.  Click here to find your Senator(s) and contact information.

High School Math Standards

The House did not concur with the Senate’s proposal to require school districts to offer two separate high school math tracks.  HB 657 will now go to conference.  The House has appointed its conferees but the Senate has not yet named theirs.  Click here to see the conferees announced so far.

Budget News

Lawmakers are closing in on a final budget deal for 2016-17.

House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) and Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) both stated this week that a budget agreement would likely be finalized by Monday at the latest, paving the way for final passage by the end of next week.  It appears that the two sides have reached a general agreement on teacher salaries but that differences still need to be resolved on raises for other employees.

“There will be pay raises. It’s just a matter of how much,” Speaker Moore said.

Click here to read more on the year-round provision and other major items in the Senate budget.

Click here for a summary of the House-passed budget.

Click here to see the line-item adjustments made by each budget, as prepared by DPI.

Bills

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

North Carolina School Boards AssociationJune 24 Legislative Alert
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June 17 Legislative Alert

High School Math Standards

The Senate approved a measure this week directing school districts to offer two separate high school math tracks beginning in the 2018-19 school year.  HB 657- Math Standard Course of Study Revisions establishes that students/parents in traditional public schools must have two options for high school/grade 8 math course sequencing: the current Integrated Math I/II/III track OR the Algebra I/Geometry/Algebra II track that was used prior to 2012.

Debate on the Senate floor became testy at times.  Supporters argued that parents uncomfortable with the Integrated Math curriculum need to have options. “At the very essence of this bill is giving parents and students a choice over not what they learn, but how they learn it, and that is something we should strive for,” said Senator Chad Barefoot (R-Wake).  Opponents noted how difficult it would be for school districts to implement two different high school math tracks, particularly for small districts with just a few math teachers.

Several amendments were approved during the floor debate.  One amendment from Sen. Don Davis (D-Greene) requires local school boards to notify parents of the two high school math track options.  Sen. Jim Davis (R-Macon) successfully passed an amendment clarifying that the requirements do not apply to Cooperative Innovative High Schools.  Another amendment from Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram (D-Northampton) establishes that local boards are to be provided with recommended student-teacher ratios for each of the tracks.  The vote for final approval was 33-13.  HB 657 now goes to the House for a concurrence vote.  If you believe this bill is going to cause staffing or other issues in your LEA, please communicate with your House members.  Please share with us any examples of staffing or other issues you are using to demonstrate how this bill could be detrimental.  Click hereto find House member contact information.

Tax Cap

SB 817, a measure to drop NC’s constitutional income tax rate cap from 10% down to 5.5% (the current rate), passed the Senate Finance Committee this week.  It is now on the calendar for June 25

SB 817, that would SB 817 is on the Senate’s calendar for June 25.  While the amendment does not address annual spending levels by State government, a reduction of the tax rate cap in this manner could potentially be problematic for K-12 public education in future years.  This bill could be of concern to local school districts for a few reasons:

  • If the State is hamstrung in its ability to raise revenue to keep up with growing student populations at the K-12 level, the burden would likely be further shifted to the local level, creating greater challenges for local communities.
  • It will be more difficult for future lawmakers to effectively respond to unexpected fiscal/economic circumstances.
  • It will also be more difficult for future lawmakers to address teacher salaries and other items needed to keep NC’s public education system competitive regionally.
  • Since there are certain sectors of the budget that grow automatically by statute or federal law (Medicaid, corrections, etc.), lawmakers will be more inclined to respond to a slow-down in revenue by cutting things such as education spending.
  • If lawmakers find themselves needing to raise more revenue, they could potentially turn to the sales tax, which is a more volatile revenue source.

If you wish to voice concerns about SB 817, please be in communication with your Senators.  Click here to find Senate members.

Budget News

House and Senate leaders are continuing their negotiations on a final budget deal.  It is expected that a final budget will be enacted before the start of the 2016-17 fiscal year.

Those of you who have year-round schools and are concerned about the definition established in the Senate budget that eliminates the single-track year-round option need to continue to communicate your concerns.  Direct your concerns to the Chairs of the House and Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittees, as they will likely be the lawmakers who make a final decision on whether to keep that provision.  You can find their contact info here.

Click here to read more on the year-round provision and other major items in the Senate budget.

Click here for a summary of the House-passed budget.

Click here to see the line-item adjustments made by each budget, as prepared by DPI.

Charter/LEA Funding Relationship

HB 539 remains in the House K-12 Education Committee.  The committee has three choices on the bill: do nothing, make a recommendation to not concur, or make a recommendation to concur.  Please continue to stay in communication with your House member(s) in opposition to HB 539.  Click here for member contact information.

Resources & Points to Remember

Below are materials and informational items to circulate in your communities.

*A one-page sheet with talking points on HB 539 can be found here.

*A short video on this issue can be found here.  Make sure to continue sharing this video on social media and encourage others to do so.

*A longer Myth/Fact sheet on the issue can be found here.

*Legislators and others need to understand the pots of monies that school districts would have to transfer if HB 539 becomes law (reimbursements, gifts, federal grants, etc.).  A review of the types of monies at risk can be found here. 

*Charter schools can already seek out many of the monies at issue in HB 539 without having to take them from school districts.  For example, school districts would have to transfer E-rate reimbursements under HB 539 but charters already have the ability to seek out E-Rate reimbursements if they so choose.

*There are policies and laws that limit how federal grants and reimbursements are used and which students may be served.  Charters continue to claim that despite these policies and laws, they should be entitled to a share of federal grants and reimbursements that a school district receives.

*Charters continue to claim that charter students receive only 75 cents for every dollar provided to LEAs.  This is a flawed calculation based on factors unrelated to per-pupil funding and reflects an apples-to-oranges comparison of district and charter funding.

Achievement School District

HB 1080- Achievement School District, has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee.  Please continue to be in contact with Senator(s) in opposition to this bill.

Click here for the NCSBA issue brief on this.

Bills

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

North Carolina School Boards AssociationJune 17 Legislative Alert
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May 27 Legislative Update

ASD Bill Passes Committee-House Vote Possible Next Week 

HB 1080- Achievement School District, passed out of the House K-12 Education Committee this week. The 18-11 vote came after a good deal of discussion about the wisdom of allowing for-profit charter management groups to take control of some low-performing public elementary schools. “Every year a kid stays in one of these failing schools is a year lost. You can’t get them back,” bill sponsor Rep. Rob Bryan (R-Mecklenburg), told the committee.

Rep. Kyle Hall (R-Stokes) attempted to add an amendment establishing that the State would be responsible for repair and renovation costs of schools that are taken over by the charter management groups through the ASD.  Opponents of the amendment argued that it would set a bad precedent since school capital costs have historically been a local responsibility.  The amendment did not pass.

Some committee members asked Rep. Bryan about the mixed results of ASD programs in other states such as Tennessee.  Rep. Bryan responded that the program in HB 1080 is different because it puts prerequisites on any group applying to manage a school in the ASD. “The guardrail we put on this is that you’ve got to be a successful operation,” he said.

HB 1080 is extremely likely to come up on the House floor next week, potentially as early as Tuesday.  Please be contacting House member(s) in opposition (click here for contact info).  As soon as it is scheduled we will send you an Alert so please watch your email closely.

Click here for the NCSBA issue brief on this.

Charter Advocates Continue Push for HB 539

The charter school community is continuing to push strongly for the House to concur with HB 539.  While it remains important that you maintain contact with your House member(s) in opposition, it is also critical to be communicating locally to develop grassroots opposition to HB 539 within your communities.  Reach out to local PTAs and other community groups that support public education, make sure they understand what is at stake with HB 539, and get them involved in spreading the word to parents and concerned citizens.  These types of efforts are happening on the charter side.  For example, proponents of HB 539 are spreading their message of “fair funding” on social media using the hashtag #fairfundsnc.  Charter schools are also sending to their parents call to action messages such as this (click here).  School districts need to be countering these efforts.  Remember that HB 539 could come up at any time.

Resources & Points to Remember

Below are materials and informational items to circulate in your communities.

*A one-page sheet with talking points on HB 539 can be found here.

*A short video on this issue can be found here.  Make sure to continue sharing this video on social media and encourage others to do so.

*A longer Myth/Fact sheet on the issue can be found here.

*Legislators and others need to understand the pots of monies that school districts would have to transfer if HB 539 becomes law (reimbursements, gifts, federal grants, etc.).  A review of the types of monies at risk can be found here. 

*Charter schools can already seek out many of the monies at issue in HB 539 without having to take them from school districts.  For example, school districts would have to transfer E-rate reimbursements under HB 539 but charters already have the ability to seek out E-Rate reimbursements if they so choose.

*There are policies and laws that limit how federal grants and reimbursements are used and which students may be served.  Charters continue to claim that despite these policies and laws, they should be entitled to a share of federal grants and reimbursements that a school district receives.

*Charters continue to claim that charter students receive only 75 cents for every dollar provided to LEAs.  This is a flawed calculation based on factors unrelated to per-pupil funding and reflects an apples-to-oranges comparison of district and charter funding.


Budget News

Senate budget writers are expecting to finish their budget over Memorial Day weekend, possibly making it publicly available as soon as Tuesday.  The budget would move through the Senate’s finance and appropriations committees Tuesday or Wednesday with the full chamber taking a final vote by the end of next week.  “We’re going to be heavy with the budget over here,” said Sen. Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson).

This week Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) held a press conference to provide an overview of what the Senate will be doing with teacher pay in its budget.  The Senate’s plan adds $538 million to base pay over the next two years to bring the average annual teacher salary to approximately $54,000. Senator Berger explained that this would make North Carolina the regional leader in teacher pay.  “If everything else remains stagnant, teachers will receive almost $200,000 in additional pay over the course of their career under this plan,” Sen. Berger said.  It was also explained that the Senate’s plan allows teachers to get max out at the top of the pay scale year 15 (currently 25).  “We think this is the right plan for teachers in North Carolina at this time,” Sen. Berger said.  The proposal as outlined is bigger than the average 4.1% teacher pay raises the House included in its budget.  Sen. Berger also announced that raises for other school and state employees would be disclosed when the Senate budget is made public.

Click here for a video of Senator Berger’s press conference.

Another K-12 item to watch in the Senate budget is whether it includes the language from SB 862- Opp. Scholarships Forward Funding, a bill filed by Sen. Chad Barefoot (R-Wake).  This language would significantly increase funding for the Opportunity Scholarship school voucher program.  A reserve fund would be created and there would be an automatic transfer of funds from the General Fund to this reserve fund to be used to award new vouchers.  Funding for the program would be increased from $17.6 million to $44.8 million for the 2018-19 school year.  This number would rise by $10 million each year thereafter until it reaches $134.8 million in the 2027-28 school year.

House Budget Information

Click here for a summary of the House-passed budget.

Click here to see the line-item adjustments made by the House budget, as prepared by DPI.

Click here to read the budget money report.


Teacher Criminal Background Checks

A Senate committee advanced legislation this week to require all individuals seeking an NC teaching license to undergo a criminal background check.  The bill is SB 867 and it would put the State Board of Education in charge of setting up a criminal background check program for prospective teachers and reviewing the results of those checks.  Prospective teachers would have to pay a fee for the background check but that fee could be paid by the local school board at its discretion.  The legislation lays out dozens of crimes that would disqualify candidates thought to pose a threat to school safety.  Local school boards would continue to decide whether to conduct criminal background checks for other school employees.


Bill Dealing with Anti-Pension Spiking

On Tuesday, the House Pensions and Retirement Committee will take up HB 1134.  Section 6 of HB 1134 makes the Treasurer’s Office exempt from the APA (rule-making process) as it relates to the anti-pension spiking cap (retroactive to January 1, 2015).  This language would negate lawsuits that a couple of local school boards have filed against the Retirement System on the anti-pension spiking issue.


Bills

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


Upcoming Legislative Meetings and Events

Monday, May 30

The House will hold a skeleton session (no votes).

Tuesday, May 31

9:00 AM
The Senate will convene.

10:00 AM
The House Pensions and Retirement Committee will meet and consider the following pertinent bills:
HB 1134- Admin. Changes Retirement System/Treasurer
HB 1137- Treasurer’s 2016 Investment Admin. Changes- AB

10:00 AM
The Senate Finance Committee will meet and consider the following local bill: SB 727-Moore Cty Local Sales Tax Use Restriction

Wednesday, June 1

Thursday, June 2

North Carolina School Boards AssociationMay 27 Legislative Update
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