*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.
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
The House will convene for session.
The Senate will convene for session.
Tuesday, May 17
The House Appropriations Committee will meet to take up the House budget.
Wednesday, May 18
Thursday, May 19