NCSBA Legislative Update – May 19, 2023

NCSBA Legislative Update – May 19, 2023

The Senate passed its version of the State budget this week on a 36-13 vote. The Senate budget appropriates $11.5 billion to K-12 education items in 2023-24. In 2024-25, the Senate spends $11.7 billion on K-12 education items. This is in direct contrast to the House budget which spends at least $800 million more on K-12 education over the biennium including much higher proposed raises for teachers and other school district staff.
The following are K-12 education highlights of the Senate budget:

  • Beginning teacher pay is set to increase from $37,000 to $41,000 over the next two years – an increase of 10.8%.
  • For teachers, the budget allocates $99.4 million in recurring funds the first year to implement a new teacher salary schedule for fiscal year 2023-24 and $152.7 million in recurring funds for fiscal year 2024-25. Click here to see a comparison chart on the Senate’s new teacher salary schedule and the House’s proposal.
  • Assistant principals are also to be paid on the new salary schedule, plus 19%. The budget allocates $1.3 million in the first year and $1.9 million the second year to implement those changes.
  • Outlines a new salary schedule and bonuses for principals, noting that principals can only receive one bonus, paid at the highest amount for which the principal qualifies.
  • Most other school employees (including non-certified school employees such as teacher assistants, cafeteria staff, bus drivers, and custodial workers) will receive an across-the-board salary increase of 2.5% in the first year, or a 4.5% increase if the employee is paid on an experience-based salary schedule. There is an additional across-the-board salary increase of 2.5% the second year.
  • $10 million recurring increase in funding to add about 120 nurses, counselors, social workers, and psychologists across the state.
  • Significantly expands eligibility and increases funding for the Opportunity Scholarship Program
  • $35 million in recurring funds both fiscal years for school safety grants (similar to last year’s allocation)
  • The proposal does not include anything about reinstating master’s pay, teacher supplement assistance, or paid parental leave, which was included in the House’s budget proposal.

Click here for NCSBA’s summary of Senate education budget provisions. Click here for NCSBA’s comparison chart on the education budget provisions of both the House and Senate.
Click here for the Senate budget bill and click here for the Senate budget money report.
Click here for an article on the Senate budget.

Next steps in the budget process:  The House and Senate will now work together to reach a compromise budget that we anticipate will be rolled out by the middle of June.

With passage of the Senate budget and the unofficial break after the crossover deadline behind us, we’ve moved into the latter part of the session where the two chambers work out their budget differences and start to work on other stand-alone bills. There wasn’t a flurry of activity this week, but the bills that did move are noteworthy.

Choose Your School, Choose Your Future

The largest expansion of private school vouchers in state history, HB823: Choose Your School, Choose Your Future (primary sponsors Representatives Tricia Cotham R-Mecklenburg, David Willis R-Union, Donnie Loftis R-Gaston, Tim Moore R-Cleveland) passed the House by a 65-45 vote on Wednesday.

HB 823 provides vouchers for every family in the State by expanding the Opportunity Scholarship program. It replaces opportunity income requirements with a sliding scale based on household income as follows.

  • A family of four with a household income of up to $55,500 (qualifying amount for free/reduced lunch) is eligible for a maximum voucher award of $7,213 in FY 2023-24 (100% of the average state per pupil allocation)
  • A family of four with a household income of up to $111,000 is eligible for a maximum voucher award of $6,492 in FY 2023-24
  • A family of four with a household income of up to $249,750 is eligible for a maximum voucher award of $4,328 in FY 2023-24
  • A family of four with a household income of more than $249,750 is eligible for a maximum voucher award of $3,246 in FY 2023-24

HB 823 does not include stabilization funds for local school districts that will lose significant funding due to a reduction in average daily membership. This is important because as the number of students decreases in a school, a larger percentage of the per-pupil funding goes towards fixed costs with less going towards educating students. Several Democratic-sponsored amendments to the bill that would have curtailed eligibility and provided accountability were defeated.

The bill now goes to the Senate where there is already a similar bill, SB406: Choose Your School Choose Your Future (primary sponsors Senators Michael Lee R-New Hanover, Lisa Barnes R-Nash, Amy Galey R-Alamance) that is waiting to be heard in the Senate Committee On Appropriations/Base Budget. The Senate version differs from the House slightly in that it prohibits local boards of education from requiring more credits to graduate high school than what is required by the State Board of Education (currently, 22 credits).The K-12 Education Committee removed this language from the House bill.  It’s worth noting that both the House and the Senate included the expanded Opportunity Scholarships in their respective budgets. Neither bill is subject to the crossover deadline because they both appropriate monies.

Education Bills Passed by Senate Committees

Local Bills

The following bills passed the Committee on Rules & Operations of the Senate. The next stop is the Senate floor.

SB248: Change Number of Members On Nash County Board of Education (primary sponsors: Senators Lisa Barnes, R-Nash; Buck Newton, R-Wilson)

  • Reduces number of seats on the Nash County Board of Education from 11 to seven
  • Redraws school district maps to align with County Commission maps
  • Makes the filing period two weeks long and changes the date new board members take office to the first Monday in December
  • Staggers school board elections to match County Commission elections
  • Click here for an official bill summary

HB66: Partisan Boards of Education  (primary sponsors: Representatives Jay Adams, R-Catawba; Mitchell Setzer, R-Catawba)

  • Changes the method of election for the Catawba County, Hickory City, and Newton-Conover City boards of education from nonpartisan to partisan
  • Amended in Senate Redistricting and Elections committee to also make the Pamlico County Board of Elections partisan
  • Click here for an official bill summary

HB 452: Franklin County Board of Education Election Method (primary sponsor: Representative Matthew Winslow, R-Franklin)

  • Changes the date and method of election of the Franklin County Board of Education to a nonpartisan primary and election method
  • Click here for an official bill summary

Education Bills Passed By House Committees
SB17: Stanly Board of Commissioners/Board of Education (primary sponsor Senator Carl Ford R-Rowan) passed in both House Local Government Committee, and the House Rules Committee.  The next stop is the House floor.

  • Staggers terms for both the Stanly County Board of Commissioners and the Board of Education.
The following is the Consortium of State School Boards Association’s (COSSBA) most recent federal education report.

May 15, 2023, Weekly Report
Headlines for this edition include:

Congressional Support for Free School Lunches:  House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee Ranking Member Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) sent a joint letter to the Department of Agriculture (USDA) in support of its proposal to expand children’s access to free school meals by strengthening the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). The proposal recommends expanding access to the CEP by lowering the minimum identified student percentage participation threshold from 40 percent to 25 percent, which would give states and schools greater flexibility to choose to invest non-federal funds to offer no-cost meals to all enrolled students. COSSBA submitted comments to the USDA in support of the proposal.

It is worth pointing out that the budget passed by the NC Senate this week includes a provision which requires DPI to establish a pilot to expand public school participation in the federal CEP program in order to increase student access to free school breakfast and lunch.

Currently, no schedules have been released for education-related committees next week. Check the NC General Assembly calendar page for updates.
Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
NC School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.orgMadison Skeens
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
NC School Boards Association

Rob Black
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
NC School Boards Association

Christina DavoileNCSBA Legislative Update – May 19, 2023