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
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.
New Bills: Click here to see NCSBA-tracked bills that were filed this week.
Upcoming Legislative Meetings and Events
Monday, May 9
The Senate will convene.
The House will convene.
Tuesday, May 10
Wednesday, May 11
Thursday, May 12