NCSBA Legislative Update
JUNE 23, 2017
**Note that lawmakers are wrapping up the legislative session. Session may end as soon as next week so this may be one of our last weekly legislative updates.**
A final compromise budget was made public late Monday night. It quickly moved through the House and Senate this week and was presented to the Governor late yesterday afternoon. The budget passed each chamber with veto-proof majorities (77-40 in the House, 39-11 in the Senate), with Republicans unified and a handful of Democrats crossing over to vote in favor. You can watch the House debate here. The Governor has 10 days to sign or veto. If the legislature adjourns before he takes action, he would have 30 days to sign or veto.
For K-12 public schools, the final budget contains pay raises for teachers, a restructuring of the school administrator pay system, an increase in NC Pre-K slots, new lottery funding for school construction, and new opportunities for school employee bonuses. However, it does not make investments in professional development (which remains zeroed out at the State level) or textbooks (there is an appropriation but it is just to replace a cut which was supposed to go into effect). These were some areas outlined in the NCSBA legislative agenda as needing additional funding.
There are also several concerning provisions, including Education Savings Accounts, restrictions on transfers between LEA allotments, cuts to Central Office, no retiree health benefits for new hires after 2020, and no funding nor language stating intent to fund K-5 specialty teachers for 2018-19.
NCSBA has put together materials showing all the major funding and policy provisions for the final budget. Attached please find the budget documents.
ANTI-PENSION SPIKING Bill
SB 117 was a hot topic this week. The bill was moved on and off the House calendar a few different times throughout the week. It now sits in the House Education K-12 Committee. There is expected to be an amendment put forth to remove the retroactive applicability of the language that says the Trustees don’t have to go through rule-making. This would preserve the favorable superior court ruling in the Cabarrus/Wilkes/Union/Johnston lawsuit as it applies to all the LEAs that have been assessed up to that ruling.
LOCAL OPTION SALES TAX
HB 333, legislation to expand the ability of localities to establish local option sales taxes for public education, remains parked in Senate Rules. The House passed it a few weeks ago but the Senate has not taken any action. With lawmakers wrapping up their business for 2017 the window for moving HB 333 this session is closing. This bill gives localities another tool to help address school construction backlogs and other pressing local education issues.
Please contact your Senator(s) and let them know that HB 333 is a priority item for school boards and tell them it is important to pass HB 333 before this session ends!
Local Education Funding Lawsuits
It appears that lawmakers are not going to take action on the issue of local education funding lawsuits this session. SB 531, which is the Senate’s bill to eliminate school boards’ local education funding lawsuit authority, remains eligible for the next session since it made crossover.
Omnibus Education Bill
HB 155 passed out of committee this week. A Senate Committee took a bill on another topic and revised it to make several changes to the 115C public education statutes. The most notable among these changes are:
– A provision that says if a high school has 1,500 students or more then assistant principals may conduct the annual performance evaluation of a teacher, provided that the principal does at least one of the teacher’s first three annual evaluations.
– A provision that delays implementation of the State Board’s recently passed school-based mental health policy.
The Senate dropped a House proposal to give preferential enrollment treatment to parents who work for an organization that donates land/money/resources to a charter school. The Senate Education Committee took this provision out of a multi-part charter school bill- HB 800. The major component of the revised bill now is a provision that makes it easier for charters not identified as low-performing to expand their student population without needing approval from the State Board of Education. The new threshold (25%) is a little less than what the House originally passed. HB 800 goes to the Senate floor next week.
3rd Grade Teacher Bonuses
SB 169 passed the House this week and has been sent to the Governor. This bill gives bonuses to teachers who taught 3rd grade last year and were in the 25% of state or local reading growth scores and then were moved to a different grade this year. Due to a quirk in the language of the original legislation setting up the 3rd grade reading bonus program, those teachers were initially ineligible. This bill will ensure that those teachers get the bonus. A provision in the new State budget ensures that 3rd grade top 25% reading growth score teachers who are moved to a different grade the next year are eligible for the bonuses going forward.
School Staffing Flexibility
SB 448- Professors in the Classroom, unanimously passed the House and is heading to the Governor’s desk. This bill would provide local boards of education with the flexibility to hire university/college professors to teach core academic subjects in any grade K-12.
Teacher Prep Reform
SB 599, the restructuring of the state’s teacher prep system, was revised by a House Committee this week and is going to the House floor. The House Education K-12 Committee made a number of changes to the language of the bill but kept the core in tact. SB 599 is scheduled to be heard on the House floor Monday. If you want to see the changes that the Committee made to this bill you can click here.
Leanne E. Winner
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919)747-6686 direct dial
Associate Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 606-3916 mobile
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919)747-6677 direct dial