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Legislative Alert – Jan 27, 17

Legislative Alert – Jan 27, 17

Federal Secretary of Education Nomination and Hearings

Newly elected President Donald Trump has nominated Betsy DeVos to be the federal Secretary of the Department of Education.  Mrs. DeVos, a Republican from Michigan, had her confirmation hearing last Tuesday and the US Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pension (HELP) Committee is scheduled to vote on her nomination on Tuesday, January 31 (originally had been scheduled for this week).

NCSBA takes no position on the nomination.  Senator Richard Burr is a member of the HELP committee that will be voting on her nomination.  If you wish to share any comments about the nomination with Senator Burr you can email him at this link: https://www.burr.senate.gov/contact/email or you can call his DC office at 202.224.3154.

Below are some additional resources about the DeVos nomination and confirmation hearing.

Watch the entire hearing here.

Read about the hearing here.

Read a background profile of Ms. DeVos here

2017 Session Begins/K-3 Class Size Fix Re-filed

Lawmakers returned to Raleigh on Wednesday to begin official legislative business for the 2017 session. The first set of bills were filed and standing committee members were named this week.  Both chambers held a couple of skeleton sessions with no votes before adjourning for the week.  Lawmakers will reconvene Monday at 4:00.

Among the first bills to be filed this week was the K-3 class size fix bill NCSBA tried to advance during the December special session.  The bill number is again HB 13 but it is a separate bill from the bill filed last session.  This one is sponsored by Reps. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson), Jeffrey Elmore (R-Wilkes), and Craig Horn (R-Union).  Even though it is a separate bill it is identical in language to the version filed last session.  HB 13 would:

1) Provide substantial relief from the drastic K-3 class size changes that would otherwise take effect this upcoming school year.

2) Give LEAs the flexibility to have a differential of 3 between the funded and average classroom teacher ratios starting in 2017-18 for K-3, which has been the historical practice.  The differential of 3 for average class sizes returns 75% of what is allowed (not necessarily used) this school year.

While understanding that HB 13 is not a perfect solution to the K-3 class size issue, NCSBA believes it to be the solution that is most viable and most likely to pass at this time.  Remember that if nothing passes on this districts will be forced to equalize the funded and average ratios in 2017-18 which could lead to (i) drastic cuts in art, music, and physical education teaching positions in K-3; (ii) an increase in class sizes in grades 4-12; or (iii) a funding hole that would need to be filled by an infusion of local dollars.

If the General Assembly does not take action on the K-3 class size issue soon districts might have no choice but to begin developing their budgets under the assumption that the extra funding will not be provided.


Resources on K-3 Class Size Issue

Sample K-3 Class Size Resolution:  click here
If your school board passes this resolution please send a copy to Sean Holmes at NCSBA at sholmes@ncsba.org.  Also send a copy to Speaker Moore, Senate President Pro Tem Berger and the Chairs of the House and Senate Education Committees:  Reps. Debra Conrad, Jeffrey Elmore, Craig Horn, Linda Johnson; Senators Chad Barefoot, David Curtis, Michael Lee.

You can read media coverage of HB 13 here and here.  Note that the latter story contains a quote from a former General Assembly staffer.


2017 Committee Memberships

Below are the memberships of notable committees for K-12 public education that have been assigned for this session.

House K-12 Education Committee

Rep. Debra Conrad – Chair Rep. Holly Grange Rep. Amos Quick
Rep. Jeffrey Elmore – Chair Rep. Destin Hall Rep. Dennis Riddell
Rep. Craig Horn – Chair Rep. Kyle Hall Rep. David Rogers
Rep. Linda Johnson – Chair Rep. Jon Hardister Rep. Jason Saine
Rep. Cecil Brockman Rep. Cody Henson Rep. Phillip Shepard
Rep. Bobbie Richardson Rep. Howard Hunter Rep. Scott Stone
Rep. John Ager Rep. Pat Hurley Rep. Rena Turner
Rep. John Bradford Rep. Frank Iler Rep. Donna White
Rep. Kevin Corbin Rep. Bert Jones  
Rep. Jimmy Dixon Rep. Donny Lambeth  
Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield Rep. Graig Meyer  
Rep. Rosa Gill Rep. Rodney Moore  
Rep. Charles Graham Rep. Larry Pittman  

 

House Education Appropriations Committee

Rep. Hugh Blackwell – Chair Rep. Rosa Gill
Rep. Jeffrey Elmore – Chair Rep. Holly Grange
Rep. John Fraley – Chair Rep. Marvin Lucas
Rep. Craig Horn – Chair Rep. Mickey Michaux
Rep. Pat Hurley Rep. John Sauls
Rep. Debra Conrad Rep. Lee Zachary
Rep. Cynthia Ball  
Rep. Larry Bell  
Rep. Cecil Brockman  
Rep. Kevin Corbin  
Rep. Susan Fisher  

Senate Education Committee

Sen. Chad Barefoot – Co-Chair Sen. Valerie Foushee
Sen. David Curtis – Co-Chair Sen. Joyce Krawiec
Sen. Michael Lee – Co-Chair Sen. Louis Pate
Sen. Deanna Ballard Sen. Ron Rabin
Sen. Tamara Barringer Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram
Sen. Bill Cook Sen. Jeff Tarte
Sen. Don Davis Sen. Jerry Tillman
Sen. Cathy Dunn Sen. Joyce Waddell
Sen. Chuck Edwards  

Senate Education Appropriations Committee

Sen. Chad Barefoot – Co-Chair Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram
Sen. David Curtis – Co-Chair Sen. Jerry Tillman
Sen. Michael Lee – Co-Chair Sen. Joyce Waddell
Sen. Deanna Ballard  

Bills

New Bills: Click here for a list of bills filed this week that NCSBA is tracking.

Upcoming Legislative Meetings and Events

Monday, January 30

Both chambers will convene at 4:00 for skeleton sessions (no votes will be taken)

Ramona MillerLegislative Alert – Jan 27, 17
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Rockingham County Board Member Wins Prestigious Award

Rockingham County Board Member Wins Prestigious Award

Amanda Bell of the Rockingham County Board of Education is the 2016 recipient of the Raleigh Dingman Award for Outstanding Boardsmanship. To receive this esteemed award, which is given annually by the North Carolina School Boards Association (NCSBA), a board member must be peer-nominated by their local school board.

bell1“This board member will be a great asset as she serves as an advisor to the State Board of Education,” remarked NCSBA Executive Director Ed Dunlap during the announcement. She has devoted more than 34 years to the field of education. She has been an advocate for children, a voice for parents, a bridge for community members, and a mentor to new board members. Bell has served on NCSBA’s Board of Directors and on the North Carolina School Boards Trust (NCSBT). She is a lifelong learner who always stands up for public schools.

The Raleigh Dingman Award is the highest honor bestowed on a North Carolina school board member. The award is named in honor of Dr. Raleigh Dingman, the Association’s first full-time executive director, and was first presented at the 1981 annual conference. In 2002, legislation was passed by the North Carolina General Assembly that provides for the Raleigh Dingman Award winner to serve as an ex officio advisor to the State Board of Education and to attend meetings and participate in deliberations of the State Board. Amanda Bell will also serve in this capacity.

 

Ramona MillerRockingham County Board Member Wins Prestigious Award
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Wake Superintendent Honored as 2017 A. Craig Phillips Superintendent of the Year

Wake Superintendent Honored as 2017 A. Craig Phillips Superintendent of the Year

The North Carolina Association of School Administrators and the North Carolina School Boards Association have partnered since 2005 to award this distinguished honor to a public school superintendent. Being named NC Superintendent of the Year is the highest honor bestowed on a North Carolina superintendent. The winner of this prestigious award competes for the title of National Superintendent of the Year and serves as an adviser to the State Board of Education.

Congratulations to Dr. Jim Merrill, Superintendent of Wake County Schools, who was named the 2017 A. Craig Phillips North Carolina Superintendent of the Year at an awards presentation and reception held Nov. 17 in Greensboro. The award was given jointly by the North Carolina Association of School Administrators (NCASA) and the North Carolina School Boards Association (NCSBA). Scholastic sponsored the award and provided a $5,000 award to the winner. Dr. Merrill will represent his colleagues and all of North Carolina public schools well in the AASA National Superintendent of the Year competition.
Along with Merrill, all 2017 Regional Superintendents of the Year were honored:
soysRegion 1 | Northeast | Mr. Melvin Hawkins, Camden County Schools
Region 2 | Southeast | Mr. Rick Stout, Onslow County Schools
Region 3 | Central | Dr. James Merrill, Wake County Schools
Region 4 | Sandhills | Dr. Robert Taylor, Bladen County Schools
Region 5 | Piedmont/Triad | Dr. Lory Morrow, Davidson County Schools
Region 6 | Southwest | Mr. Jeff Booker, Gaston County Schools
Region 7 | Northwest | Mr. Larry Putnam, Burke County Schools
Region 8 | Western | Dr. Tony Baldwin, Buncombe County Schools
Congratulations to all the nominees and thank you for your continued work for the children of North Carolina.
Ramona MillerWake Superintendent Honored as 2017 A. Craig Phillips Superintendent of the Year
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Burke County Board of Education Member Wins Prestigious Award

Burke County Board of Education Member Wins Prestigious Award

Buddy Armour of the Burke County Board of Education is the 2016 recipient of the School Board Member Leadership Award. To receive this esteemed award, which is given by the North Carolina School Boards Association (NCSBA), a board member must be peer-nominated by their local school board.

armour1NCSBA President-Elect Minnie Forte-Brown shared with participants that Armour helped start STRIVE – Students Taking a Renewed Interest in the Value of their Education – in his community. “He invests one-on-one time with high school seniors through STRIVE, presenting them with life skills and encouraging them to avoid senioritis,” she added. He has served on his board since 1997 and remains passionate about each students’ success.

The School Board Member Leadership Award honors a school board member for exemplary leadership during the previous school year.

Ramona MillerBurke County Board of Education Member Wins Prestigious Award
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Columbus County Board of Education Wins Leadership Award

The Columbus County Board of Education is the 2016 recipient of the School Board Leadership Award. This award honors a school board for extraordinary leadership during the 2015-2016 school year. To receive this esteemed award, which is given by the North Carolina School Boards Association (NCSBA), a board must demonstrate excellent governance skills through commitment to the role of the school board. The Columbus County Board of Education received this award in 2014 as well.

columbusColumbus County was recognized during the Awards Ceremony of the Association’s 47th Annual Conference for Board Member Development in Greensboro on November 17. During comments to ceremony attendees, the board was celebrated for consistently continuously seeking to expand opportunities for the students it serves. After a fire destroyed one of the schools two years ago, the board responded quickly and made sure the students could return to the next day. This year, these students entered the doors of a beautiful state-of-the-art school. As budgets dwindle across the state, the necessity of an insightful, forward-thinking school board has become increasingly essential to a school system’s success.

Ramona MillerColumbus County Board of Education Wins Leadership Award
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McDowell County Commissioners Recognized by School Boards Association

The North Carolina School Boards Association (NCSBA) presented its prestigious County Commissioners of the Year Award to the McDowell County Board of County Commissioners.

Touted by their local board of education as county commissioners that give extraordinary support to their students, teachers, and schools, the McDowell County Board of Commissioners remain dedicated to maintaining a solid working relationship with the board of education. Such commitment is visible through their work with the school board on needed space for the Early College Program. Doing what benefits the children of the county the most is the guiding principle for these commissioners.

The award is given to a board of county commissioners that received nomination by the local board of education in recognition of their extraordinary efforts. The McDowell County Board of County Commissioners was recognized during the Awards Ceremony of the NCSBA 47th Annual Conference for Board Member Development in Greensboro on November 17.

Ramona MillerMcDowell County Commissioners Recognized by School Boards Association
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May 20 Legislative Update

May 20 Legislative Update

Charter Advocates Continue to Push HB 539

The charter school community is continuing to push strongly for the House to concur with HB 539.  While it remains important that you maintain contact with your House member(s) in opposition, it is also critical to be making local contacts to develop grassroots opposition to HB 539 within your communities.  Reach out to local PTAs and other community groups that support public education, make sure they understand what is at stake with HB 539, and get them involved in spreading the word to parents and concerned citizens.  These types of efforts are happening on the charter side.  For example, proponents of HB 539 are spreading their message of “fair funding” on social media using the hashtag #fairfundsnc.  Charter schools are also sending to their parents call to action messages such as this (click here).  School districts need to be countering these efforts.  Remember that HB 539 could come up at any time.

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.

Budget News

House Budget Approved-Senate Moves Next

The House passed its version of the 2016-17 budget this week.  Including compensation increases, the House budget increases appropriations for K-12 public schools by 4.4% above the original spending target for 2016-17.  Teachers with 5-25 years of experience receive an average 4.1% salary increase, with the largest increases going to mid-career teachers.  Other teachers will get a one-time $1,000 bonus.  Most school administrators will get an average 2% increase (with some receiving a $500 bonus).  Non-certified and central office staff will get a 2% raise and a one-time $500 bonus.  Click here to read the Money Report.  See below for more details on the House budget and what happened as it moved through the chamber this week.

On the Senate side, budget writers have said that their budget is not likely to be very different from that of the House except on salaries.  The biggest difference between the House and Senate budgets is expected to be on salaries for teachers, school employees, and State employees.  It is expected that the Senate will turn its budget around within two weeks.  One thing to watch for in the Senate budgetis whether it includes the language from SB 862- Opp. Scholarships Forward Funding, a bill filed by Sen. Chad Barefoot (R-Wake).  It would significantly increase funding for the Opportunity Scholarship voucher program.  A reserve fund would be created and there would be an automatic transfer of funds from the General Fund to this reserve fund to be used to award new vouchers.  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.

House Budget Process

Several amendments were offered and passed in both the House Appropriations Committee and on the House floor throughout the week as the budget was developed.  The most notable amendments for K-12 public schools dealt with virtual charters and the Opportunity Scholarship school voucher program.

Virtual Charters

Rep. James Langdon (R-Johnston) ran an amendment touching on the virtual charter pilot language.  A provision had been included in the K-12 education section that allowed the two virtual charter pilot schools to have a higher withdrawal rate than the original virtual charter legislation allowed.  The same provision would also legislatively mandate that several types of students are to be excluded from the withdrawal rate, making it easier for the virtual charters to stay below the higher withdrawal rate caps.  Rep. Langdon’s amendment attempted to remove this provision and return to the original virtual charter language, which set a 25% cap and allowed the State Board of Education to determine what types of students should and should not be counted  in the withdrawal rate.  This amendment passed 59-56.

About an hour later, Rep. Rob Bryan (R-Mecklenburg) successfully ran an amendment that undid most of the Langdon amendment.  Under the Bryan amendment, the rate cap stays at 25% (the existing level) but the State Board would still be directed to exclude five categories of students from the calculation of the withdrawal rate.  The State Board, not the General Assembly, should determine how to calculate a fair withdrawal rate for these schools, as they are the body in charge of overseeing these programs and receiving periodic updates on how they are doing.  Another troubling provision in the virtual charter language would increase the portion of virtual charter teachers who can be non-NC residents from 10% to 20%.

Opportunity Scholarships

An amendment from  Rep. Jeffrey Elmore (R-Wilkes) in the House Appropriations Committee modified the proposed changes to the school voucher program.  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 original House budget language, Grade 1 students would have been removed from this cap, meaning that there would be no limit on how many new vouchers they could receive.  Rep. Elmore’s amendment changed this so that grade 1 students go back to being subject to the cap, but the cap itself would go up from 35% to 40%.


Other Notable House Budget Provisions

Vouchers.  There is 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)

Achievement School District

There are lots of conversations happening on House side about the Achievement School District issue and bill.  Be sure to watch your email closely for updates and notable developments on this.

Click here for the NCSBA issue brief on this.

Union School Boards/County Comm Funding Lawsuit Moratorium

A bill was filed this week by Sen. Tommy Tucker (R-Union) to prohibit the Union school board from initiating a legal challenge over the sufficiency of local funding from their county commissioners in the 2016-17 school year.  The bill is SB 881.


Bills

New Bills:  Click here for a list of new bills filed this week that NCSBA is tracking.

Upcoming Legislative Meetings and Events

Monday, May 23

4:00 PM
The Senate will convene for session.

5:00 PM
The House will convene for session.

Tuesday, May 24

 

Wednesday, May 25

 

Thursday, May 26

North Carolina School Boards AssociationMay 20 Legislative Update
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May 6 Legislative Update

May 6 Legislative Update

Friday, May 6, 2016 3:00 pm

 

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

HB 539
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.

Bills

New Bills: Click here to see NCSBA-tracked bills that were filed this week.

Upcoming Legislative Meetings and Events

Monday, May 9

11:30 AM
The Senate will convene.

3:00
The House will convene.

Tuesday, May 10

Wednesday, May 11

Thursday, May 12

North Carolina School Boards AssociationMay 6 Legislative Update
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May 13 Legislative Update

May 13 Legislative Update

Friday, May 13, 2016

 

*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.

Budget News

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

10:00 AM
The House will convene for session.

11:30 AM
The Senate will convene for session.

Tuesday, May 17

9:30 AM
The House Appropriations Committee will meet to take up the House budget.

Wednesday, May 18

Thursday, May 19

 

North Carolina School Boards AssociationMay 13 Legislative Update
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June 3 Legislative Update

ASD Bill Passes House

HB 1080- Achievement School District, passed the House Thursday by a vote of 60-49 (click here to see the final vote tally).  There was a good deal of debate on the floor about the wisdom of transferring some of the lowest performing public schools to for-profit charter operators.  A number of members crossed party lines in the vote.  Notably, 10 members were not present for the vote and one did not vote at all.

The ASD bill now moves to the Senate.  The Senate has put forth what appears to be an alternative idea for dealing with low-performing schools (see the Senate budget review below).  Please start communicating with your Senator(s) in opposition to HB 1080.

One of the noteworthy aspects of the ASD bill is that much of its backing is coming from out-of-state groups and money.  Click here to read a more in-depth investigative report on this.

HB 1080 Talking Points

  • HB 1080 requires local school districts to maintain school buildings despite the fact the State has taken control of the campuses.If the State is going to take control of a school, then it should be responsible for the maintenance of the building.
  • The local school district will also continue to provide transportation for students to the school.Again, this is another responsibility the school district should not be required to maintain if the state assumes control of a school.
  • This framework could cause a number of staffing issues for school districts.
  • The ASD model has not shown to be successful in other states that have experimented with similar measures, including Tennessee and Michigan.
  • A school’s identification of low-performing and eligibility to be put into the ASD is based on a school grading system with which the North Carolina House has openly not agreed.Many schools that could be considered perennially low-performing could be improving in growth but remaining stagnant in achievement.
  • Four actions were made permissible to North Carolina school districts for low-performing schools per the Race to The Top Grant provisions, of which one was to operate a low performing school like a charter. School districts have not implemented all of these available procedures.
  • There is a new reform model created called the Principal Turnaround Model, which would allow for increased compensation packages for new principals in select low-performing schools. However, the number of schools around the state that can use this model would be capped at 5.
  • The bill attempts to essentially reward districts that transfer schools to the ASD by allowing them to create “Innovation Zones,” areas where they can operate schools with charter-like flexibility. But this provision is a red herring because school districts already have the authority to apply to the SBE to operate some schools with charter-like flexibility and some have already utilized this option.

Senate Budget Approved

The Senate completed its budget work this week, releasing the full document late Tuesday night, moving it through the appropriations committee the following day, and then taking it up on the Senate floor Thursday/Friday.  Final approval was given early this morning.

Like the House, the Senate’s budget increases K-12 education spending above what had been budgeted for fiscal year 2016-17.  The Senate’s K-12 spending expansion is 1.2% smaller than that proposed by the House (3.2% vs. 4.4%).  However, the Senate proposes a larger teacher pay package with teachers receiving salary increases averaging 6.2% (compared to 4.1% average increases in the House budget).  The Senate budget also restores yearly step increases to the teacher salary schedule.  School administrators receive step increases and bonuses ($2,000 bonuses for principals and $500 bonuses for assistant principals).  For noncertified personnel, $15 million is budgeted for increases and bonuses based upon local policies (no across-the-board increase).

The major K-12 policy provision in the budget is a dramatic expansion of the Opportunity Scholarship voucher program.  Spending on vouchers would double in 2016-17 and a reserve fund would be created to forward fund the program.  Language would be put into statute creating an automatic $10 million increase in appropriations each fiscal year to be directed to the reserve fund over the next decade, topping out at $134.8 million in 2027-28.

Other notable Senate budget provisions:

Year-Round School Definition.  Districts that have year-round schools would have to follow a new definition of year-round school.  The new definition would be:

“a multi-track school that remains in session for the entire calendar year by utilizing at least one of the following plans:

(1) A plan that divides students into four groups and requires each to be in school for three assigned and staggered quarters each school year.

(2) A plan that provides that students shall be scheduled to attend 45 days of classes followed by 15 days of vacation repeated throughout the school year.

(3) A plan that divides the school year into five nine-week sessions of classes and requires each student to attend four of the five nine-week sessions to complete the school year.”

          *If this new definition will cause problems for your school district please let us know immediately.*

Virtual Charter Schools.  There would be identical language to the House provision requiring the SBE to exclude four categories of students when calculating the withdrawal rate for the virtual charter pilots.

ADM Growth.  Public school ADM growth is fully funded ($46.8 million).

Performance Pay for Grade 3 Teachers.  $10 million is set aside for a pilot program where third grade teachers are given salary supplements for achieving high growth scores on student reading assessments.  Half of the total set-aside would go to the teachers in the top 25% of statewide grade 3 reading growth scores and the other half would go to each LEA’s top 25% of grade 3 reading growth achievers.

Teacher Assistant Scholarship Pilots.  A pilot program would be set up for Anson, Franklin, Moore, Richmond, and Scotland to provide tuition assistance payments to TAs seeking the academic requirements for full teaching licensure.

Lab Schools.  Each UNC school of education would be required to establish a laboratory school.  The purpose of the lab schools would be to “improve student performance in local school administrative units with low-performing schools by providing an enhanced education program for students residing in those units and to provide exposure and training for teachers and principals to successfully address challenges existing in high needs school settings.”  These lab schools would operate similar to and be funded like charter schools.

Click here for a comparison chart of the line-item adjustments in the House and Senate budgets prepared by DPI.

Click here for a comparison of the teacher pay plans in the House and Senate budgets.

House Budget Information

Click here for a summary of the House-passed budget.

Click here to read the House budget money report.


Common Core/High School Math

The Senate and the State Board of Education appear to be on a collision course over the issue of High School Mathematics content standards and course sequencing.  A series of revisions to the High School Math standards approved by the State Board this week retain the controversial Integrated Math courses that high schools have been using for the past five years.  But just a day before the vote, the Senate Education Committee brought a bill up for discussion (HB 657) to require the State Board to scrap what they have developed for revisions and go back to the traditional Algebra I/Geometry/Algebra II courses that were used prior to 2011.  The Board would have to implement the Algebra I/Geometry/Algebra II standards for the school year that begins Fall of 2016.  It is expected that Senate Ed will take action on the bill next Wednesday.  Click here for a summary of the bill.

HB 539

The charter school community is continuing to push strongly for the House to concur with HB 539.  Continue contacting your House member(s) in opposition.  Also continue communicating locally to develop grassroots opposition to HB 539 within your communities.  Remember that HB 539 could come up at any time.

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.

Bills

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

Upcoming Legislative Meetings and Events

Monday, June 6

7:00 PM
The House and Senate will convene for session.

Tuesday, June 7

1:00 PM
The House Elections Committee will meet and take up the following bills: HB 1133-Partisan Election/Transylvania Bd. of Ed.

Wednesday, June 8

Thursday, June 9

North Carolina School Boards AssociationJune 3 Legislative Update
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