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Legislative Alert – Apr 13

Legislative Alert – Apr 13

EASTER RECESS

Lawmakers returned home to their districts after Tuesday’s session for a week-long Easter recess.  The next floor votes in the House and Senate will occur Wednesday, April 19.  After that the next major date on the legislative calendar is April 27, which is the crossover date.  Crossover is the date by which statewide bills outside of those touching on spending or money-raising must pass one chamber or the other in order to remain eligible for the remainder of the 2017-18 biennium.  With crossover approaching there will likely be a great deal of legislative activity when lawmakers return.

ACTION NEEDED – SCH BD LAWSUIT AUTHORITY

HB 305, the measure stripping school boards of the authority to file legal challenges to local funding, is scheduled for a committee hearing when lawmakers return from Easter recess.  HB 305 is on the calendar for 10:00 AM on Wednesday, April 19, in the House State and Local Government I Committee.

Please contact members of this committee (click here) and your local House members (click here) and ask them to OPPOSE HB 305.  Remind them how important it is that school boards keep this one mechanism that ensures checks and balances in the local education funding process.

Key Points to Communicate – School Board Lawsuit Authority/HB 305

1) NCSBA and the NC Association of County Commissioners agreed last year to have legislative staff study the local education funding dispute process and make some recommendations.  That study is still ongoing, so moving legislation right now would be premature.  The original agreement should be honored.

2) Eliminating local funding lawsuit authority raises the concern of how school boards are supposed to fulfill their Leandroobligation to provide an opportunity for a sound basic education on behalf of the State.  This is because school boards would no longer have a method to hold county commissioners accountable for insufficient funding levels.  Also, creating these roadblocks for school boards to advocate for sufficient funding could potentially invite student/parent lawsuits.

3) Only a small handful of education funding disputes have actually gone to trial.  Mediation has usually worked to resolve any funding disagreements. But it is the threat of legal action that creates the incentive for commissioners to come to the table. HB 305 removes this one check and balance on commissioners and says that if there is no agreement in mediation, the commissioners have the final word on funding.  This would make the mediation process essentially meaningless and there would be NO checks and balances between the two boards.

ACTION NEEDED – HOMESCHOOL ACCESS TO PUB SCHOOL SPORTS

There are indications that the Senate Education Committee could soon hold a hearing on SB 254, which requires LEAs to make its high school sports teams and extracurricular activities open to homeschooled students.

SB 254 also requires that if a public school student does not have a specific sport or extracurricular at his/her base high school, he/she must be allowed to participate in that sport/extracurricular at another public high school.

Please contact members of the Senate Education Committee (click here) as well as your own Senate members (click here) in opposition to SB 254.  Below are just some of the significant issues that could result from mandating public high school sports and extracurriculars be made open to non-enrolled students.  Make sure to communicate these points to your Senators.

Talking Points – Homeschool/Non-Enrolled Student Access to High School Sports

Residency accountability.  How can schools or school systems check into the “red flags” of residency for homeschooled students?  For example, a student assignment office might do “in home” visits if there are concerns about the student/parent/legal custodian living where they indicate is their residence.  Would the school system have the legal right to investigate or do an “in-home” visit if the student is homeschooled?

Competitive balance. Non-enrolled students playing on high school sports teams could dramatically alter and upset the competitive balance.  NCHSAA schools are classified into four different classes based on ADM at their school and play toward championships in those classifications.  But now a school may be drawing from a much larger base (students from other schools); would classifications have to be altered to accommodate that?

Insurance and liability.  It is unclear what the insurance/liability situation would be with SB 254. Would the student-athletes be covered even though they are not actually students at the given school?

Determining eligibility. In recent years the NCHSAA has tightened standards for checking eligibility, especially residency.  But the logistics of trying to do this for students not even enrolled at that school and are from a whole host of different high schools could be mind-boggling.  It is challenging enough for an athletic director to check eligibility for students at his or her school when the records are right there; this could mean trying to get attendance, academics and other information from a whole variety of other high schools and homeschools just for one athletic team’s eligibility.

School unity.  Students who playing sports at two different high schools would be playing AGAINST their school in one sport but playing FOR that school in another sport.  What effect would this have on school spirit?  What effect would it have on school spirit, team loyalty, etc., when students who do not attend the school are now part of one of the sports teams?

SCHOOL CALENDAR FLEXIBILITY

A second school calendar flexibility bill cleared the House on Monday.  Legislation giving authority to ALL LEAs to move their start date as early as August 15 to align with the start of their local community college- HB 375– passed 108-6.  Along with HB 389, which passed last week, the House has now sent the Senate two different kinds of calendar flexibility bills to consider.

Be sure to thank your House members who voted for the calendar flexibility bills.

HB 375 voting: click here
HB 389 voting: click here

To see which LEAs would be put into the HB 389 calendar pilot click here.

TEACHER BILLS PASS COMMITTEE

Several bills designed to help improve teacher recruitment and retention cleared the Senate Education Committee this week.  They have all been referred to other committees.  Among the bills the committee passed Tuesday were:

Senate Bill 448.  Authorizes school boards to contract with professors at universities and community colleges to teach core academic subjects in any grade.  The individual would not have to obtain a teaching license but would be subject to certain criteria established by the SBE.
Sponsors: Senators Chad Barefoot, R-Wake, Paul Newton, R-Cabarrus, Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth

Senate Bill 447.  Expands the teacher assistant tuition reimbursement pilot program to include 10 more LEAs.  This popular pilot reimburses TAs for up to $4,500 of the costs of tuition for pursing teacher licensure degrees.  This bill expands the pilot to Bertie, Duplin, Edenton-Chowan, Edgecombe, Halifax, Nash-Rocky Mount, Northampton, Tyrrell, Vance, Washington.  It also clarifies that TAs participating in this pilot can receive their salary and benefits while doing their student teaching.
Sponsors: Senators Chad Barefoot, R-Wake, Tom McInnis, R-Richmond, Erica Smith-Ingram, D-Northampton

SB 517 and SB 598 were also approved.  These are designed to improve the teacher preparation pipeline and encourage teacher ed graduates to stay in state.

NOTABLE BILLS FILED THIS WEEK

School Construction
HB 638.  This expands lottery advertising to generate additional lottery revenue.  Each LEA in Tier 1 and Tier 2 would be eligible for up to $10 million/year in additional school construction lottery funds through the increased revenue.
Sponsors:  Reps. Kevin Corbin, R-Cherokee, Terry Garrison D-Vance, Howard Hunter, D-Hertford, Larry Potts, R-Davidson

Low-Performing School Definition
HB 826.  This provides that if a D or F school/LEA is meeting expected growth, it cannot be considered “low-performing.”  This is an NCSBA legislative agenda priority.
Sponsors:  Reps. Dennis Riddell, R-Alamance, Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, Andy Dulin, R-Mecklenburg, John Fraley, R-Iredell

Opportunity Scholarship Accountability
HB 678.  Requires that a non-public school provide evidence of accreditation in order to be eligible to receive public funds through the state’s voucher program.  NCSBA’s legislative agenda suggests this as a method of putting additional accountability into the program.
Sponsor:  Rep. John Ager, D-Buncombe

School Bus Drivers
HB 641.  Sets aside funds to allow for school bus drivers to receive a raise of up to $2.00/hr.
Sponsor:  Rep. Beverly Boswell, R-Dare

MEDIA COVERAGE

K-3 Class Sizes: Phillip Price, former CFO of DPI, writes how any discussion about the K-3 class size issue needs to factor in how overall resources for public schools have declined.  Click here to read the editorial.

School Capital: Leanne Winner, NCSBA Director of Governmental Relations, and Kevin Leonard, NCACC Executive Director, were on the latest episode of Education Matters to talk about legislative proposals to help locals cope with the $8 billion in public school construction needs.  You can watch the conversation here.

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

Wednesday, April 19

10:00 AM
The House State and Local Government I Committee will meet and consider the following pertinent bill:
HB 305- School Boards Can’t Sue Counties

The House State and Local Government II Committee will meet and consider the following pertinent bill:
HB 482- County Comm. Role in School Bldg Acquisition

The Senate Health Care Committee will meet and consider the following pertinent bills:
SB 316- Suicide Prevention/Awareness School Personnel
SB 594- Family/Child Protection & Accountability Act

1:00 PM
The Senate Finance Committee will meet and consider the following pertinent bill:
SB 343- Increase Teacher Supplement/Electronic Notice

Thursday, April 20

9:00 AM
The House K-12 Education Committee will meet and consider the following bills:
HB 285- Suicide Prevention/Awareness School Personnel
HB 556- Office of Early Childhood Education
HB 634- Private Alternative Preparation

Ramona MillerLegislative Alert – Apr 13
read more
Legislative Alert – Apr 7

Legislative Alert – Apr 7

LEGISLATOR SPRING BREAK/K-3 CLASS SIZE

Lawmakers are planning to leave Raleigh after this coming Tuesday’s legislative session to take a “spring break” for the Easter holiday. They will return to town a week later. If they do not take action on the K-3 class size issue on Monday or Tuesday of next week there will not be another opportunity to get something passed until they reconvene on Wednesday, April 19.

Click here to read a letter NCSBA sent to all Senators encouraging them to address the K-3 class size issue prior to leaving for break next week.

STUDENT LETTERS/HB 13

It has come to our attention that some elementary school classes are having their students write letters to their legislators asking them to support HB 13. Concerns are being raised around Jones Street that such activity may not be an appropriate use of classroom time. We advise you to check with your elementary principals to make sure this is not occurring in your schools.

SCHOOL CALENDAR FLEXIBILITY PASSES HOUSE

There was a lot of important action on school calendar flexibility this week. Two bills- HB 375 to give authority to ALL LEAs to have a start date aligned with their local community college as early as August 15 and HB 389 to set a pilot program to allow20 LEAs to move the start date as early as the Monday closest to August 10- were discussed and given overwhelming supportThursday on the House floor. The calendar pilot bill moves on to the Senate. The community college calendar alignment bill received preliminary approval but won’t get a final vote until Monday. A House member objected to the bill on third reading.

To see which LEAs would be put into the HB 389 calendar pilot click here.

You can read more about the House debate on these bills here.

NOTABLE MEDIA COVERAGE/SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION

Financing NC’s $8 billion backlog of school construction and renovation needs is being talked about on notable political and education TV shows. The topic was discussed by a panel of political commentators on a recent episode of NC Spin. You can watch that here (the discussion begins at the 20:10 mark).

The next episode of Education Matters, the Public School Forum’s weekly TV show, will also have a segment on this issue that features Leanne Winner, NCSBA Director of Governmental Relations alongside Kevin Leonard, Executive Director of the NC Association of County Commissioners. See below for information on air times of this episode.

Broadcast Information

Saturdays at 7:30PM WRAL-TV (Raleigh/Durham)
Sundays at 6:30 AM and Mondays at 3:00 PM on UNC-TV’s statewide channel
Online at https://www.ncforum.org

NOTABLE LEGISLATIVE ACTIVITY

Charter Schools/Fund 8/Capital Funding
SB 658, legislation requiring LEAs to share additional monies with charter schools was filed in the Senate this week. The charter school fund sharing bill is sponsored by Senators Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) and Chad Barefoot (R-Wake). It is essentially the same fund sharing language as the HB 539 bill that NCSBA fought last session, except this bill ALSO contains a provision allowing charters to access school capital funding.

Education Savings Accounts
SB 603. This is a bill to set up Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) for students with disabilities in North Carolina. ESAs are part of the school voucher family except instead of having tax money go to a private school to cover tuition costs, ESAs allow parents to receive tax money directly (usually in the form of a debit card) that they can use to pay for various types of educational services. This ESA bill would only set up accounts for parents/guardians of students with disabilities, who would receive the average State per-pupil amount plus the exceptional children per-pupil funding amount.

Local Funding Disputes/Sch Bd Lawsuit Authority
The House version of legislation to strip school boards of their power to initiate lawsuits challenging local funding sufficiency (HB 305) was scheduled to be heard in a House committee Wednesday morning but it was later removed from the calendar prior to the start of the meeting. HB 305 could still emerge at any time.

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 10
5:00 PM
The Senate will convene for session.

6:00 PM
The House will convene for session. The following notable bills are on the House calendar:

HB 265- Partisan Elections/Certain School Boards
HB 293- Onslow/Pender Bd. Of Ed/Partisan Election
HB 520- Union Co. Bd. Of Ed/Partisan Election
HB 375- School Cl. Flex/CC

Tuesday, April 11
10:00 AM
The House K-12 Education Committee will meet and consider the following bills:
HB 149- Students W/Dyslexia and Dyscalculia
HB 360- Harnett Co. Schools/Exam Window

1:00 PM
The House University Education Committee will meet and consider the following bills:
HB 532- Modify UNC Laboratory Schools

Ramona MillerLegislative Alert – Apr 7
read more
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
read more
Legislative Alert – Mar 17

Legislative Alert – Mar 17

K-3 CLASS SIZES

House Bill 13 remains in the Senate Rules Committee.  Please continue to contact your Senator(s) in support of this measure.  Click hereto find your Senator(s).

PLEASE PROVIDE NCSBA WITH THE FOLLOWING PIECES OF INFORMATION:

1) 
When do you anticipate sending RIF notices to personnel for the 2017-18 school year?

2) How many (if any) permanent teacher positions were unfilled for at least the first 10 days of this school year in K-3 and in 4-5?

We would like to have the information ideally by the end of business on Tuesday.

Also as you develop your budgets please be sure to let us know what funding will be needed in your LEA to implement the scheduled K-3 class size changes. Remember that local budget requests should take into account 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.

Resolution

To find a sample resolution on K-3 class sizes click here.

As of today, we are aware of 37 school boards that have passed resolutions requesting lawmakers take action on the K-3 class size fix.  To find the list of school boards that we are aware have passed resolutions click here.

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.

SCHOOL CALENDAR BILL UPDATE

A bill was filed this week to put 20 LEAs into a school calendar flexibility pilot program.  The pilot would allow these LEAs to start school no earlier than August 10 for three school years.  The bill is HB 389 and it is sponsored by Reps. Harry Warren, R-Rowan, Craig Horn, R-Union, Linda Johnson, R-Cabarrus, and Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson.  Click here to see which LEAs the bill would currently allow in the pilot.  

A statewide calendar flexibility bill was also filed this week allowing LEAs to adjust the start of their school year to align with the start date of their local community college.  The earliest an LEA could start under this bill would be August 15.  This bill is HB 375 and is sponsored by Reps. Horn, McGrady, Johnson, and Jonathan Jordan, R-Ashe.

Below is the status of school calendar flexibility bills filed as of March 17.

Local Bills

45 local bills have been filed giving various types of calendar flexibility to 76 school systems.
Local calendar flexibility bills filed in the Senate:  13
Local calendar flexibility bills filed in the House:  32

Statewide Bills

HB 53 – allows all LEAs to begin school no earlier than August 10 (sponsored by Reps. Cody Henson, Kevin Corbin, Mitch Setzer, and Michele Presnell).

HB 375 – allows all LEAs to align their start date with the start date of their local community college, as long as it is no earlier than August 15.

Pilot Bill

HB 389 to create a pilot for 20 LEAs to begin school no earlier than August 10.

Click here to see if a calendar flexibility bill has been filed for your LEA.

EQUAL ACCESS TO SPORTS/TEBOW BILLS

Two bills have been filed to require that LEAs allow homeschooled students to play on sports teams and participate in extracurriculars at traditional high schools.  The bills would also require that public high school students without access to a particular sport or extracurricular be allowed to participate in that sport/activity at the closest public high school that offers it.

SB 254 (Sen. Norm Sanderson, R-Pamlico, Sen. Andrew Brock, R-Davie, are sponsors) was filed this week.  The other bill is SB 159(Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, Sen. Warren Daniel, R-Cleveland, Sen. Chad Barefoot, R-Wake, are sponsors).  SB 159 would go further and require that private and charter school students also be allowed to participate in traditional high school sports/extracurriculars.  These kinds of bills are generally referred to as “Equal Access Bills” or “Tebow Bills,” after the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback who was homeschooled but played football on his local high school team.  NCSBA   opposes  both these bills.  Below are some of the main concerns NCSBA has about these types of bills.

  •  How are homeschooled students or students from other non-public schools accountable for residency, and how can schools or school systems check into the “red flags” of residency?  For example, a student assignment office might actually do “in home” visits if there are concerns about the student/parent/legal custodian living where they indicate is their residence.  Would the school system have the legal right to investigate or do an “in-home” visit if the student is not attending one of its schools?
  •  In recent years the NCHSAA has tightened standards for checking eligibility, especially residency.  But the logistics of trying to determine eligibility for students not even enrolled at a school and are from a whole host of different schools could be mind-boggling.  It is challenging enough for an athletic director to check eligibility for students at his or her school when the records are right there; this could mean trying to get attendance, academics and other information from a whole variety of schools, including home schools, just for one athletic team’s eligibility.
  •  Provisions of the bills would create major issues within a school system just among its public schools that are members of the NCHSAA.  Those students at a school that doesn’t have a specific team could now go to another school to play a certain sport, but would stay at their “base school” for the teams that the school does have.  It would create the amazing scenario that “I play AGAINST a school in my county in one sport but play FOR that school in another sport.”
  •  What effect would this have on school spirit, team loyalty, etc., when for the first time students who do not attend the school are now part of the team, even though they are not there to participate in classes, pep rallies, and all other parts of the life of the school?
  •  This could dramatically alter and upset the competitive balance; NCHSAA schools are classified into four different classes based on ADM at their school and play toward championships in those classifications.  But now a school may be drawing from a much larger base (students from other schools); would classifications have to be altered to accommodate that?
  •  The insurance and liability situation is unclear; would the student-athletes be covered even though they are not actually students at the given school?

EDUCATION BILLS WITH MOVEMENT THIS WEEK

School Performance Grades
A measure to set a 50/50 performance/growth formula in the calculation of the A-F school performance grades passed the House this week.  HB 322 cleared the House K-12 Education Committee Tuesday and passed the House chamber with just two dissenting votes.  Increasing the growth component of the A-F school performance grades is one of the priorities outlined in NCSBA’s 2017-17 legislative agenda.  HB 322 is sponsored by Reps. Linda Johnson, R-Cabarrus, Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes, and Craig Horn, R-Union.

Third Grade Teacher Bonuses

The Senate Education Committee moved a bill to expand access to the 3rd grade teacher bonus payments.  In January bonuses were awarded to 3rd grade teachers in the top 25% of reading growth scores statewide and locally in the 2015-16 school year.  One of the original requirements in awarding this money was that the teacher had to still be teaching in the 3rd grade in the 2016-17 school year.  This meant that teachers who placed in the top 25% but were assigned to teach another grade level this school year were not eligible for the bonus money.  SB 169 would lift this restriction and ensure that those teachers who would have been eligible if not for being asked to move to another grade level will be able to get the bonus.  It has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee.

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 20

4:00 PM
The Senate will convene for session.

7:00 PM
The House will convene for session.

Tuesday, March 21

8:30 AM
A Joint meeting of the House and Senate Education Appropriations committees.

10:00 AM
The House K-12 Education Committee will meet and consider the following bills:
– HB90- Eliminate NC Final Exam
– HB155- Modify Educator Licensure Requirements
– HB302- DoDEA/Clinical Educators for Student Teaching

Ramona MillerLegislative Alert – Mar 17
read more
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
read more
Legislative Alert – Mar 3

Legislative Alert – Mar 3

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 bill 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.

SCHOOL CALENDAR BILLS

A few more local school calendar flexibility bills were introduced this week.  Below is an update on the status of school calendar flexibility bills in the General Assembly this session.

 

– 27 local bills giving various types of calendar flexibility to 53 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).

GOVERNOR’S BUDGET

Governor Roy Cooper released his budget proposal this week.  Highlights of the governor’s budget proposals for public schools are as follows:

– 10% average salary increase for teachers over two years.
– 6.5% average salary increase for school-based administrators.
– The greater of 2% or $800 salary increase for non-certified staff, plus a $500 non-recurring bonus.
– $20 million in lottery funds to allow LEAs to hire additional school personnel.
– 4,700 additional NC Pre-K slots over two years.
– $10 million for additional interventions in low-performing schools.

You can read the full budget proposal here.


EQUAL ACCESS/TEBOW BILL

A bill has been filed in the Senate requiring LEAs to allow private, homeschool, and charter school students to play on sports teams and participate in extracurriculars at traditional high schools.  There would also be a requirement that public high school students without access to a particular sport or extracurricular be allowed to participate in that sport/activity at the closest public high school that offers it.

These bills have popped up around the country in recent years and are referred to as “Tebow” bills, named after the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback Tim Tebow who was homeschooled in Florida but allowed to play football at his local high school.  There are currently 22 states that give homeschoolers a right to play on their local public school sports teams.

The Tebow bill that has been filed in the Senate is SB 159.  It is sponsored by Senators Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, Warren Daniel, R-Cleveland, and Chad Barefoot, R-Wake.  NCSBA opposes SB 159.

COMMUNITY COLLEGE TRUSTEE APPOINTMENTS

The House moved a local bill this week taking away two school boards’ authority to appoint community college Trustees.  These provisions were added into HB 12, which also strips the Governor of his authority to appoint certain community college Trustees.

HB 12 takes Trustee appointing authority away from the Cleveland and Davidson school boards.  The provision applying to Cleveland appeared in the bill when it came up in committee.  The Davidson provision was added via a House floor amendment from Rep. Larry Potts, R-Davidson.  This bill and another one dealing with community college Trustee appointments, HB 14, are now going to the Senate.  We will be keeping an eye on these bills in the Senate as it is possible additional school boards could be added and similarly stripped of their Trustee appointing power.  Up to 15 counties can be put into local bills.  If you are concerned about your board being added to either of these bills make sure to reach out to your Senator(s) and let them know.

OTHER ACTIVITY IN THE HOUSE THIS WEEK

Two notable education bills were approved this week by the House K-12 Education Committee and the House chamber.

HB 87 would ensure that the State Board of Education submit the State Plan for complying with the new federal education law (ESSA) no earlier than seven business days before the latest allowable submission date.  Currently the latest allowable submission date is September 18, 2017.

HB 97 creates a new graduation requirement directing students to earn at least one credit in an arts education course in grades 6-12.  This would go into effect with students entering sixth grade in 2020 (those who are 2nd graders this school year).    

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 6

Both chambers will convene at 7:00 PM.

Ramona MillerLegislative Alert – Mar 3
read more
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
read more
Legislative Alert – Feb 17, 17

Legislative Alert – Feb 17, 17

K-3 CLASS SIZE FIX UPDATE

HB 13 unanimously passed the House on Thursday 114-0.  The K-3 class size fix bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

While the House was fully supportive of HB 13, it is not clear to us how the measure will fare on the Senate side As your LEA develops your local budget request for 2017-18, you need to be prepared 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 additional funding needed to implement the class size changes in your LEA be broken out as a separate line-item in your local budget request.  This will put a public spotlight on the actual monetary impact of the K-3 class size changes.  Please also share with us what you estimate the financial impact of the class size changes will be.

Also note that the NC Association of School Administrators has sent a survey to superintendents on behalf of the Senate about how the money generated through the funded/average K-3 class size differential is used.  The purpose of this survey is to gather data on this issue for the Senate to examine before taking any action.  We know that not all LEAs have returned the survey and we have concerns about what the Senate’s reaction will be for those LEAs that do not return the survey.

Please contact your Senate members in support of HB 13.  Click here to find your Senate members.  Talking points on HB 13 are below.

Talking Points on HB 13

HB 13 would:

a) Provide substantial relief from the drastic K-3 class size changes that have passed and are scheduled to take effect in the 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 there is no legislative fix, teacher allotment flexibility will disappear and 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; (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.

If the Senate does not pass this bill soon, LEAs might have no choice but to begin developing their budgets under the assumption that they will not have this important flexibility.

Outside Coverage

There continue to be strong voices publicly opposing HB 13.  Click here and here for more recent example of this.

PARTISAN SCHOOL BOARD ELECTIONS

Senate Bill 94 was filed this week to require all elected local school boards to be partisan (along with city council and judicial races).  Please communicate any concerns you have with this bill to members of your local delegation, particularly if you serve on a board that is currently nonpartisan.  The bill has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee.

One of the significant concerns with making all elected school boards partisan is that, because of a federal law called the Hatch Act, school board members who are also federal employees may not be able to continue serving on their local board.  The Hatch Act restricts federal employees from engaging in partisan political activities.  There are also concerns that making all elected school boards partisan would dissuade individuals working in the non-profit sector from running and/or serving because they may not be comfortable making partisan public statements while under the employ of a tax-exempt organization.


SCHOOL CALENDAR

A report on the school calendar law was released by the General Assembly’s Program Evaluation Division (PED) on Monday.  The report surveyed school board members, superintendents, school personnel, parents, and others about their thoughts on various aspects of the current calendar law.  We were asked to express appreciation to all school districts for responding to this calendar survey.  You can read the report at this link.

The report shows that those who run school districts as well as parents are dissatisfied with several aspects of the calendar law.  It noted that both school personnel and parents complain about the same scheduling problems created by the restrictive parameters of the calendar law.  Eighty percent of LEA superintendents reported that the State mandated start and end dates make scheduling the start and end of the school year somewhat or very difficult.  Another notable finding was that over 60% of respondents in two citizen polls believed that school calendar design should be a local decision instead of following mandates from the State.

Despite these findings, the report makes no recommendation for changing the school calendar law because “the disagreement among stakeholders about when North Carolina should start and end the school year cannot be reconciled.”

The report does recommend that calendar flexibility be given to low-performing schools and low-performing LEAs.  It reviews the extensive documentation on how summer learning loss significantly impacts low-income children.

FUNDING FORMULA STUDY

A proposal to establish a special committee for examining alternative ways of funding public schools was discussed by the House K-12 Education Committee Tuesday.  Lawmakers spent most of the meeting debating who should sit on the special committee and whether the special committee should look at any alternative way of funding public schools or only look into a method called the “weighted student” formula.  A modified version of the bill is anticipated to come back up when the committee meets again next week.  A copy of the bill as filed is here.  If you want to watch a video of the meeting you can click here.

BILLS

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

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


UPCOMING LEGISLATIVE MEETINGS

Monday, February 20

4:00 PM

The House will convene for session

7:00 PM
The Senate will convene for session

Ramona MillerLegislative Alert – Feb 17, 17
read more
Legislative Alert – Feb 10, 17

Legislative Alert – Feb 10, 17

K-3 Class Size Fix Update

Two House committees voted to recommended HB 13 this week.  Both the House K-12 Education and House Appropriations Committees unanimously voted in favor of this bill to restore most of the flexibility on K-3 class size averages that is set to be eliminated next school year.  We anticipate the bill will hit the House floor on Tuesday.  Please be contacting your House members in support of HB 13.

You can click here to find your House delegation.

Talking Points

HB 13 would:

a) Provide substantial relief from the drastic K-3 class size changes that have passed and are scheduled to take effect in the 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, NCSBA believes it to be the solution that is most viable and most likely to pass at this time.  Remember that if there is no legislative fix, teacher allotment flexibility will disappear and 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; (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.

If the General Assembly does not take action on the K-3 class size issue soon, districts might have no choice but to begin developing their budgets under the assumption of not having this important flexibility.

Additional Coverage 

Outside groups are continuing to push the argument that school districts are the reason for the K-3 class size problem and that HB 13 would just be used for partisan political purposes.  Click here to read another example of this.

Resolution

Sample K-3 Class Size Resolution:  click here


School Calendar

A bill to give all LEAs additional calendar flexibility was filed this week.  HB 53- School Calendar Modification would move the earliest school start date to August 10.  The bill as filed also has a provision that would eliminate any requirement that calendars have a minimum number of instructional days (there would only be a requirement for a minimum number of hours).  NCSBA has had concerns about this provision and shared those concerns with one of the bill sponsors.

Meanwhile, the General Assembly’s Program Evaluation Division is scheduled to release a report on the school calendar law on Monday, February 13.  The report will be posted to the Division’s website at this link.


Crossover

April 27 is this year’s deadline for crossover, which is the date by which most statewide bills must pass one chamber in order to remain eligible for the remainder of the biennium.

Bills

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


Upcoming Legislative Meetings and Events

Monday, February 13

3:00 PM

The House will convene for session

4:00 PM
The Senate will convene for session

Tuesday, February 14

10:00 AM
The House K-12 Education Committee will meet and consider the following bills
HB 6 – Ed. Finance Reform Task Force/PED Report

Ramona MillerLegislative Alert – Feb 10, 17
read more
Legislative Alert – Feb 3, 17

Legislative Alert – Feb 3, 17

K-3 Class Size Fix

HB 13 is the K-3 class size fix legislation sponsored by Reps. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson), Jeffrey Elmore (R-Wilkes), and Chris Malone (R-Wake).  The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the House K-12 Education Committee on Tuesday, February 7 at 10 AM.  Please be contacting members of the committee in support of HB 13.  Click here to find the members of the House K- 12 Education Committee.

HB 13 would:

a) Provide substantial relief from the drastic K-3 class size changes that have passed and are scheduled to take effect in the 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, NCSBA believes it to be the solution that is most viable and most likely to pass at this time.  Remember that if there is no legislative fix, teacher allotment flexibility will disappear and 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; (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.

If the General Assembly does not take action on the K-3 class size issue soon, districts might have no choice but to begin developing their budgets under the assumption of not having this important flexibility.

Additional Coverage 

There are some groups making the argument that this problem was created by districts misusing money and that any change to the law would be used for partisan political purposes.  Click here and here to read examples.  Points raised in these blog posts are becoming a major concern for some legislators and could potentially present a hurdle to enacting a compromise.

Click here for a WRAL story on the issue, which includes some comments attributed to Sen. Jerry Tillman.

Resources on K-3 Class Size Issue

Sample K-3 Class Size Resolution:  click here
If your school board passes this resolution please send a copy to Sean Holmes at NCSBA at sholmes@ncsba.org.  Also send a copy to your local delegation, as well as:

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (Phil.Berger@ncleg.net)

House Speaker Tim Moore (Tim.Moore@ncleg.net)

Rep. Debra Conrad (Debra.Conrad@ncleg.net) – House K-12 Education Chair

Rep. Jeffrey Elmore (Jeffrey.Elmore@ncleg.net) – House K-12 Education Chair

Rep. Craig Horn (Craig.Horn@ncleg.net) – House K-12 Education Chair

Rep. Linda Johnson (Linda.Johnson2@ncleg.net) – House K-12 Education Chair

Sen. Chad Barefoot (Chad.Barefoot@ncleg.net) – Senate Education Co-Chair

Sen. David Curtis (David.Curtis@ncleg.net) – Senate Education Co-Chair

Sen. Michael Lee (Michael.Lee@ncleg.net) – Senate Education Co-Chair

DPI Turnover

Some significant changes are occurring at the top levels of the NC Department of Public Instruction.  There have been at least three announcements of resignations or retirements from top level DPI staff members in recent days.  Deputy State Superintendent of Public Instruction Rebecca Garland is retiring and was recognized at Thursday’s State Board of Education meeting for her long service to public education.  Chief Financial Officer Philip Price will be retiring effective March 1.  Legislative and Community Affairs Director Rachel Beaulieu is transitioning to private sector work and February 3 is her last day with DPI.

These changes come alongside the switch to the new Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson.  Click here to read more about DPI’s shift in leadership.

Bills

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


Upcoming Legislative Meetings and Events

Monday, February 6

The Senate will convene at 4:00 for a skeleton session (no votes taken)

The House will convene at 7:00 for a skeleton session  (no votes taken)


Tuesday, February 7

10:00 AM
The House K-12 Education Committee is scheduled to take up HB 13.

Ramona MillerLegislative Alert – Feb 3, 17
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