NCSBA Legislative Update – June 24, 2016

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NCSBA Legislative Update – June 24, 2016

Achievement School District Bill Passes Committee

Legislation to require 5 of the lowest performing elementary schools to be transferred from their local school boards to for-profit charter management groups passed the Senate Education Committee this morning.  HB 1080- Achievement School District as passed by the committee eliminates the Principal Turnaround Model and the Project LIFT pilots but retains the problematic provisions that were contained in the House-passed version.

“We’re talking about a situation in the state that is so bad, where the results are so bad, how can you argue for doing the same thing?” Sen. Chad Barefoot (R-Wake), who is leading the bill in the Senate, said to the committee.  Sen. Angela Bryant (D-Halifax) pointed out that schools could be forced into an ASD without any buy-in or support from the local community and that this would make it difficult for an ASD concept to work.

HB 1080 could come up on the Senate floor as early as Monday afternoon.  NCSBA continues to have both mechanical and conceptual concerns with HB 1080.  Please contact your Senator(s) in opposition throughout the weekend.  Click here to find your Senator(s) and contact information.  Click here for the NCSBA issue brief on this.  See below for short talking points.

Talking Points on HB 1080

  • HB 1080 requires local school districts to maintain school buildings despite the fact the State has taken control of the campuses. Also the State Board would be making the final decision in a number of situations where the local board and the charter operator disagree over the need for a renovation or repair.This would put Raleigh in the position of dictating how local officials prioritize capital needs, almost certainly leading to conflict.
  • 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 school districts to deal with challenging staffing issues.
  • The ASD framework has not shown to be successful in other states that have experimented with similar measures, including Tennessee and Michigan.
  • 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.
  • The bill tries to entice districts to transfer schools to the ASD by allowing them to create “Innovation Zones,” areas where they can operate schools with charter-like flexibility. 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.


Tax Cap Const. Amdt.

A constitutional amendment to drop NC’s constitutional income tax rate cap from 10% down to 5.5% passed out of a Senate committee today.  The Senate Rules Committee passed the amendment as part of a larger package of proposed constitutional amendments in HB 3.  The amendments could hit the Senate floor on Monday.  A reduction of the tax cap in this way could be of concern to local school districts for a few reasons:

  • If the State is hamstrung in its ability to raise revenue to keep up with growing student populations at the K-12 level, the burden would likely be further shifted to the local level, creating greater challenges for local communities.
  • It will be more difficult for future lawmakers to effectively respond to unexpected fiscal/economic circumstances.
  • It will also be more difficult for future lawmakers to address teacher salaries and other items needed to keep NC’s public education system competitive regionally.
  • Since there are certain sectors of the budget that grow automatically by statute or federal law (Medicaid, corrections, etc.), lawmakers will be more inclined to respond to a slow-down in revenue by cutting things such as education spending.
  • If lawmakers find themselves needing to raise more revenue, they could potentially turn to the sales tax, which is a more volatile revenue source.

If you wish to voice concerns about the tax cap provision of HB 3 please communicate with your Senator(s) immediately.  Click here to find your Senator(s) and contact information.


Immigration Bill Ties School Capital Funds to Immigration Enforcement

A bill to establish penalties for local governments that fail to follow immigration laws was unveiled in a Senate Committee this week (HB 100) and passed two committees.  The bill would cut off distributions from the Public School Building Capital Fund for a county if either the county government or the county law enforcement agency is found by the State to not be complying with immigration laws or E-Verify.

Since school capital dollars end up with the local school system, this type of enforcement mechanism ultimately punishes school children and the local school district for the actions of a county government or local law enforcement agency.  One entity should not be punished for the actions/inactions of an entirely separate entity.  HB 100 could come up on the Senate floor as soon as Monday.

Let Senator(s) know that withholding school capital funding for the local school system is not the right way to punish counties and law enforcement agencies for failing to follow immigration laws.  Ask them to find another pot of money to use for an enforcement mechanism.  Click here to find your Senator(s) and contact information.

High School Math Standards

The House did not concur with the Senate’s proposal to require school districts to offer two separate high school math tracks.  HB 657 will now go to conference.  The House has appointed its conferees but the Senate has not yet named theirs.  Click here to see the conferees announced so far.

Budget News

Lawmakers are closing in on a final budget deal for 2016-17.

House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) and Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) both stated this week that a budget agreement would likely be finalized by Monday at the latest, paving the way for final passage by the end of next week.  It appears that the two sides have reached a general agreement on teacher salaries but that differences still need to be resolved on raises for other employees.

“There will be pay raises. It’s just a matter of how much,” Speaker Moore said.

Click here to read more on the year-round provision and other major items in the Senate budget.

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

Click here to see the line-item adjustments made by each budget, as prepared by DPI.

Bills

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

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