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NCSBA Legislative Update – April 28, 2017

NCSBA LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
APRIL 28, 2017

 



K-3 CLASS SIZES

Changes to the planned K-3 class sizes have been signed into law.  As we reported to you Tuesday, an agreed-upon version of HB 13 gives LEAs flexibility for 2017-18 in setting average K-3 class sizes higher than the funded level to continue generating the positions for specialty program teachers.  The bill was passed by the Senate Wednesday, passed by the House Thursday and then quickly signed into law by the Governor.

 

In 2017-18, districts have flexibility for the following differentials between funded and average class sizes in the early grades: Kindergarten:(differential of 2); Grade 1: (differential of 4); Grades 2-3: (differential of 3).  The maximum size of any individual class in grades K-3 will be 23.

In subsequent years (2018 and beyond) the class size averages in grades K-3 will have to equal the allotment ratios and the maximum in any one class could not be more than 3 students above the allotment ratio.  This means that the changes that were set to go into effect this school year will be delayed until next year.

Senator Chad Barefoot, R-Wake, stated during the Senate Education Committee hearing on the bill that it is their intent to create a new funding allotment for the specialty (program enhancement) teachers next school year but that they must first collect data to know how much to fund for the needed positions.  However, there is no language in the bill that addresses this point.  On the Senate floor, Sen. Jay Chaudhuri, D-Wake, offered an amendment to specifically state in the bill that it is the legislature’s intent to create this separate funding stream, but Sen. Barefoot used a procedural maneuver on the floor to block the amendment.  Remember that the General Assembly will not convene in 2018 until a week or two after the primary, which is usually held in May.

The new version of HB 13 also creates new reporting requirements.  The local school board is required to submit the report in both September and in February of each year.  The report includes the following:

For each class in each grade level at each school:
– Duties of the teacher

– Source of funds to pay each teacher

– The number of students assigned to the class

For each school:

– The number of program enhancement teachers (art disciplines, PE, health and world languages)

– The source of funds to pay each program enhancement teacher

The average class size for each grade in K-3.

Any other information the Superintendent of Public Instruction may require.

The new law also requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction to conduct periodic audits.  If it is determined that the LEA is exceeding requirements for average and individual class sizes without a waiver, the State Board of Education may impose a penalty that withholds State funds for the superintendents’ salary.   LEAs will be required to pay the State’s portion.

The law also delineates a time frame for a school district to come into compliance if an application for a waiver has been denied.

CROSSOVER WEEK/BUDGET

April 27 was the deadline for crossover.  Crossover is the date by which most bills must pass one chamber or the other in order to stay eligible for the remainder of the biennium.  In next week’s update we will have a list of all the bills we are tracking that made the crossover deadline and will be eligible for the remainder of the biennium.

Senate leaders also announced their budget timetable this week.  It is the Senate’s turn to go first with the budget.  Their leadership announced that they hope to finish their work on the budget next week and roll it out publicly the week of May 7.

SCH BD LAWSUIT AUTHORITY

SB 531, eliminating school boards’ authority to file local funding lawsuits, passed the Senate this week.  This means it has made crossover and is eligible for the remainder of the two-year biennium.  The bill eliminates the formal mediation and if after a joint meeting between the two boards, the sides have not agreed then the decision of the county commissioners on funding is the final decision.  The bill sponsor, Sen. Tommy Tucker, R-Union, has stated publicly he has spoken with House leaders about not moving this bill further until the results of a legislative study are released.  That report is expected to be released sometime in May or early June.

Sen. Tucker also publicly pledged that the final version will include formal mediation and a fallback formula if no agreement is reached.

CHARTER AND OTHER BILLS THIS WEEK

A series of charter school bills passed the House this week ahead of the crossover deadline.  These bills will all be eligible for consideration the remainder of the biennium.

HB 514– Permit Municipal Charter School/Certain Towns
This bill allows the Towns of Matthews and Mint Hill to set up and operate charter schools.  This could raise concerns about towns and cities breaking off from the county school system before the concept has actually been studied.  HB 514 also allows students living in the municipality to receive preferential enrollment over other applicants.  It appears there could be a scenario where no admission slots are open to students who reside outside of the municipality.  NCSBA also has concerns with allowing municipalities to provide public dollars directly for school construction.  There may be significant constitutional issues associated with this and the location of where students served by the charter school reside.

HB 779– Charter School Changes
This bill originally would have allowed charter schools to access school capital funds.  This provision was removed by the House K-12 Education Committee.  As passed by the House the bill loosens the threshold for charter schools to automatically expand.  Instead of automatically expanding up to 20% over planned enrollment, the bill would allow charters to automatically expand up to 30% over planned enrollment, unless it is a low-performing school.

HB 800– Various Changes to Charter School Laws
The House K-12 Education Committee removed the provision supported by NCSBA to restructure the way charter schools are funded locally.

As passed by the House, HB 800 gives charter school enrollment priority to children from corporations that donate land or capital infrastructure funds to the charter.  In exchange, up to 50% of the charter’s student enrollment can be reserved for children of the corporate partner’s employees.  NCSBA opposes this provision as it could limit enrollment opportunities for the general public.

HB 826 also passed the House overwhelmingly.  This bill modifies the definition of “low-performing” school to ensure that the definition is limited to only those schools that are D or F grade and have not met expected growth.

Attached please find a list of all bills with 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

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919)747-6677 direct dial

Bruce MildwurfNCSBA Legislative Update – April 28, 2017