March 2016

March 2016 Monthly Legislative Report

Legislative Short Session Starts in April

The 2016 legislative “short session” begins April 25.  Over the next few weeks various interim committees will be finishing up their work and voting on recommendations for the General Assembly.  Any bills that are recommended by an interim committee are eligible for consideration during the short session.

2016 Primary

The 2016 primary election for statewide offices and state legislative seats was held on March 15.

Click here for a list of former and current school board members who had a primary opponent and won.

Click here for the other former/current school board members who will be moving on to the November general elections and did not face an opponent in a primary.

Achievement School Districts

The House Select Committee on Achievement School Districts met on March 30.  At this meeting, Rep. Rob Bryan (R-Mecklenburg), the primary sponsor of draft legislation to establish an Achievement School District in North Carolina, unveiled the most recent version of the legislation.  The new version, which you can read here, would allow school districts that transfer a school to the ASD to also establish Innovation Zones, which are areas where school districts can operate up to three low-performing schools with charter-like exemptions.  Unless school districts are allowed to transfer other types of schools into these Innovation Zones, the Innovation Zones provision would not allow school districts to do anything they cannot already do.

NCSBA continues to have significant concerns about the ASD approach based upon the lack of evidence of success with this model in other states.  There are also concerns about liability, ownership, financial responsibilities, FERPA, transportation, employment, enrollment, the memorandum of understanding, vague language and low standards.  Click here to find a detailed list of these concerns, which has also been shared with members of the select committee.

Rep. Bryan intends to have this committee meet one more time before session starts to vote on whether to recommend this draft bill to the full legislature for the short session.   Watch for further alerts on this bill in the weeks ahead.

Other Presentations

  • Malika Anderson, Superintendent of the Tennessee Achievement School District, talked about what she feels have been the successes of the Achievement School District she oversees and the lessons that North Carolina can take from the Tennessee experience.  You can watch her presentation here.
  • Dr. Gary Henry of Vanderbilt University reviewed findings from his research into the Tennessee  Achievement School District.  Dr. Henry’s research has found Tennessee’s ASD experience to be largely unsuccessful but one component, areas in which school districts can operate schools with charter-like flexibility, has shown some promise.  You can watch Dr. Henry’s presentation here.
  • Joshua Glazer of George Washington University also discussed the shortcomings of the Tennessee ASD and gave some insight into why the ASD model is inherently difficult.  You can watch his presentation here.

Education Strategy and Practices

The House Select Committee on Education Strategy and Practices met on March 24 and discussed the following pertinent topics:

Revisions to the Standard Course of Study

The Committee was informed of DPI’s plans to review and make modifications to the Standard Course of Study, guided in part by the recommendations of the Academic Standards Review Commission.  Dr. Rebecca Garland, Deputy State Superintendent, told the Committee that there will likely be substantial revisions to the Math II and Math III high school standards.  Implementation of those changes could begin as soon as the 2016-17 school year.  DPI’s standards review committee will look at changes to the K-8 Math standards this Fall.  The plan still needs to be approved by the State Board of Education.  You can watch this presentation here.

Draft Bills

Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake) shared copies of a five-part bill he is drafting for the upcoming session that would touch on several K-12 topics as follows:

Part 1 would place a cap on the monetary value of severance packages local superintendents can receive.

Part 2 would provide that the salaries of individual classroom teachers are no longer a public record.

Part 3 would allow teachers who earn a Master’s or advanced degree to teach in the subject area of their degree without needing a teaching license.  However, the proposal would not reestablish salary supplements for teachers with Master’s and advanced degrees.

Part 4 would expedite licensing for spouses of active duty military personnel.

Part 5 would allow educators who move into higher paying roles (teacher to assistant principal, assistant principal to principal, etc.) to earn as much as they would have made in the previous position regardless of whether there has been a break in service.

You can watch Rep. Stam discuss his bill here. You can take a look at the draft bill here.

Cooperative Innovative High Schools

The Committee heard from several individuals about the successes and challenges of Cooperative Innovative High Schools.

College and Career Ready Diploma Endorsements 

An update was given on the impact of high school diploma endorsements that were approved in 2013.

Charter Schools Advisory Board

The NC Charter Schools Advisory Board met on March 7 and 8.  This month’s meeting focused on conducting interviews with groups seeking a charter for 2017-18 and taking action on those applications.

Through March, the Board has forwarded 10 applications to the State Board of Education for approval and voted down another 10 applications.  One applicant has received a tie vote (will be settled by the SBE) and one applicant withdrew.  The Board has five applications remaining for interviews.

Below are the charter groups that have been recommended for approval to the State Board:

Addie C. Morris Children’s School (Forsyth)
Bonnie Cone Classical (Mecklenburg)
Discovery (Durham)
Emereau: Bladen (Bladen)
Emereau: Halifax (Halifax)
Johnston Charter Academy (Johnston)
Montcross Charter (Gaston)
Movement School (Mecklenburg)
Ridgeview Charter (Gaston)
Rolesville Charter (Wake)

Next Generation Charter Academy in Guilford received a tie vote and will be discussed by the State Board when they take up the remaining applications.

Leanne E. Winner
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association 
(919)747-6686 direct dial

Bruce Mildwurf
Associate Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association 
(919) 606-3916 mobile

Bryan Holloway
Associate Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919)747-6677 direct dial

Katapult MarketingMarch 2016 Monthly Legislative Report
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Funding K-12 breakdown

As I mentioned in my last column, the leadership of the General Assembly likes to tout that they have increased funding for K-12 public schools even though the categorical funding available to meet the needs of the state’s 1,449,515 students (as of last school year) is really decreasing.  Let’s examine just how much the funding for various categories has decreased since 2008-09.

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Ramona MillerFunding K-12 breakdown
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NC schools facing teacher recruitment and retention challenge

Higher education and K-12 educators said Wednesday that more needs to be done to recruit and retain North Carolina teachers at a time when fewer students want to enter the profession and those who are in the classroom are less experienced.

Enrollment at the 15 UNC schools of education has dropped 30 percent since 2010, according to Alisa Chapman, UNC system vice president for academic and university programs. The UNC system provides 37 percent of the state’s teachers, so any decline in the education programs makes it more difficult for districts to recruit teachers.

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Ramona MillerNC schools facing teacher recruitment and retention challenge
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Tiny private school puts spotlight on voucher system’s flaws

Star Christian Academy, a K-12 private school, occupies two rooms in the back of New Generation Christian Church in Smithfield. According to a former student, it has just three teachers for the 13 grades, and they provide minimal active instruction. The school is run by a husband-and-wife team with a long history of personal bankruptcies and failure to pay state and federal taxes.


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Ramona MillerTiny private school puts spotlight on voucher system’s flaws
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