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.


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

North Carolina School Boards AssociationJune 17 Legislative Alert