Lawmakers returned to Raleigh Wednesday to begin the 2018 legislative “short” session. The first day of session was accompanied by a rally of roughly 19,000-20,000 teachers and supporters asking for better teacher working conditions, improved teacher pay, and increased investments in public education. You can find more coverage of the teacher rally by clicking here.
Things are expected to move quickly this session, as the Senate could roll out its version of the budget as early as next week. The House went right to work moving new legislation on Thursday as they approved HB933, which will have NC accept the nationally certified school psychologist credential for licensure. This was one of the recommendations of the House Select Committee on School Safety (see below). Compelling information shared with lawmakers is that there are currently 12 LEAs that don’t have a full-time school psychologist and 75 vacancies.
GOVERNOR’S BUDGET PROPOSAL
Governor Roy Cooper rolled out his budget priorities for the 2018-19 fiscal year on May 10. His budget invests heavily in K-12 initiatives. Most notably, Gov. Cooper proposes to put a statewide bond of up to $2 billion for school construction and renovations on the November 2018 ballot. Getting the General Assembly to allow a statewide school construction bond on the ballot is one of NCSBA’s top priorities for this session. Learn more about the school bond coalition at www.ncschoolbond.com.
Gov. Cooper’s total State budget is approximately $600 million more than legislative leaders have agreed to budget. Senate leader Phil Berger called Gov. Cooper’s budget “an unserious attempt to score political points in an election year.”
Below are other highlights of Gov. Cooper’s budget proposal for K-12 public education.
– $98.7 million for an average 8% salary increase for classroom teachers in 2018-19. This would be an increase from the 6% average raise teachers are already scheduled to get. This comes as part of a four-year plan to hike average teacher salaries in NC to the national average by 2021-22. There would also be a $150 stipend given to teachers at the start of the year to offset the cost of supplies that teachers purchase out of pocket.
– $13 million for principal salaries for 2018-19. Also reforms the salary schedule so that principals go back to getting step increases based on years of experience, plus a salary supplement based on ADM of the school. This would roll back the new principal salary model established by the legislature that sets salary based on school growth and ADM.
– The greater of $1,250 or 2% raise for central office and non-certified LEA employees.
– Provides a 1% COLA increase for retirees.
School Safety Investments
– $25 million to the SBE for building updates, equipment, and communications systems to improve security at public schools.
– $40 million for LEAs to hire more student support personnel such as nurses, counselors, psychologists, and social workers.
– $7 million for additional SROs.
– $3 million for the elementary and middle school SRO grant program.
– Additional funding for mental health training to support the mental health needs of students.
– Put a bond of up to $2 billion on the November 2018 ballot for construction and renovations of schools.
– $69 million in lottery funds and $6 million from the Indian Gaming Fund to help LEAs build additional classrooms to meet the K-3 class size requirements.
– $15 million for textbooks and digital materials.
– $3 million for up to 10 LEAs to expand identification of and opportunities for AIG students.
– $5 million for teacher professional development.
– Elimination of the additional $4.1 million DPI cut that is set to go into effect in 2018-19.
– Repeal of the automatic $10 million increase for the school voucher program that is right now written into law.
– Directs TANF funds toward creating 1,000 additional prekindergarten slots.
Click here to see the whole budget.
Notable Bills Filed
SB718- Revise Principal Compensation. This bill was filed in the Senate on Wednesday by Senator Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph). SB718 would fix some of the issues with the new principal compensation and bonus program that NCSBA has identified. Specifically, it would:
– Set out January-December as the timeframe in which principal salaries are in effect (instead of July-June). This allows time for reporting the previous year’s accountability data upon which the principal’s placement on the schedule will be based.
– Extend the hold harmless until 2020.
– Ensure that principals who see a drop in salary due to their school performance are not considered “demoted” under law. This will ensure that LEAs do not have to supplement that principal’s salary out of local funds.
– Protect high achieving principals who move to a low-performing school so that their salaries don’t drop as they try to turn the school around for 3 years.
– Discontinuing the bonuses that go to principals who move from met or not met growth to exceed growth. The money is rolled over into a new bonus that goes to principals of a top 50% performing school that is also a D or F school. There would still be the bonuses for all principals of top 50% schools and those bonus levels would be increased by $1,000 from current levels. This would get rid of the exceed-exceed/no bonus issue with the current program.
You can click here for the full legislative staff summary.
HB965- National and State Mottos in Schools Act. This bill would require the display of the NC motto and National motto in at least one prominent place in each public school. The NC motto is “To Be Rather Than to Seem.” Since the National motto is “In God We Trust,” this bill could generate religion in school controversy and has already received some media attention. Click here to read a recent story on this bill.
ED OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE
The committee approved its set of legislative recommendations for the 2018 session on May 1. All these items could be taken up at any point during the short session. Here are the notable legislative recommendations:
- Extend the virtual charter school pilots for 4 additional years (through 2022-23).
- Implement a cross-training program within the Licensure Section of DPI to improve timely processing of educator license applications.
- Require SBE/DPI to submit an annual report on LEAs that are complying with the law on cursive writing and memorization of multiplication tables.
Click here to read the entire report of findings and recommendations.
HOUSE SCHOOL SAFETY COMMITTEE
The House Select Committee on School Safety held its final meeting on May 10. The committee approved its report of findings and recommendations.
Eight of the recommendations that impact K-12 had draft legislation attached. Those bills have all been formally introduced in the House and one- HB933- has started moving (see above).
Below are the notable recommendations for K-12 from the report. The recommendations that have been introduced in bill form have the bill number in parentheses.
Rec 1. Accept the nationally certified school psychologist credential for licensure in North Carolina (HB933).
Rec 2. Continue working towards meeting national recommended staffing ratios for school mental health support professionals.
Rec 3. Establish threat assessment teams in all public schools (HB934).
Rec 4. Require LEAs to develop peer to peer counseling programs in middle & high schools.
Provide grants for training and materials (HB934).
Rec 6. Provide funding for apps that allow anonymous reporting on bullying, weapons, potential threats, abuse, suicide and related issues (HB932).
Rec 8. Study the expansion and requirements of the volunteer SRO program.
Rec 10. Create training and continuing ed requirements for SROs (HB937).
Rec 11. Increase the SRO grant by $1.8 million for elementary & middle schools (HB941).
Rec 12. Require annual vulnerability assessments for each school building (HB939).
Rec 13. Require local school boards to submit an annual SRO report (HB940).
Rec 14. Support HB285, which requires most school personnel to be trained in student mental health and suicide prevention.
Click here to see the full report.
The 2018 primary was held on May 8. There were 14 incumbents who chose not to run or were defeated.
There were three local school board members who successfully won primaries for General Assembly seats:
– Mr. Raymond Smith of the Wayne County school board won the Democrat primary for NC House District 21 (covering Duplin, Sampson, Wayne), which is being vacated by retiring Rep. Larry Bell.
– Ms. Barbara Yates-Lockamy, a member of the Columbus school board and a former member of the NCSBA Board of Directors, won an uncontested Democrat nomination for House District 46 (covering Bladen, Columbus, Robeson), and will face incumbent Rep. Brenden Jones in November.
– Mr. John Campbell of the Robeson school board won the Democrat primary for Senate District 13 (covering Columbus and Robeson), and will face incumbent Senator Danny Earl Britt in November.
Congratulations to Mr. Smith, Mr. Campbell, and Ms. Yates-Lockamy!
To find a full list of the lawmakers who did not run for reelection, ran for another office, or were defeated in the primary you can access the NCSBA legislative webinar from May 14. That powerpoint is here and these lists are on slides 14 and 15.
NCSBA LEGISLATIVE WEBINARS
Registration is open for NCSBA’s weekly legislative update webinar on Monday, May 21. This free webinar, which will be at Noon on Monday, will review the opening days of the legislative session and preview the week ahead. Click here to register.