House and Senate leaders have been meeting for weeks on the 2018/19 State budget and plan to have the budget passed by June 1. The full package is expected to be made public Monday evening. House and Senate spending committees are scheduled to jointly meet to take up the budget on Tuesday, May 29 at 10AM. Look for a special update from NCSBA when budget details are released.
As part of budget negotiations, House and Senate leadership have agreed to present a budget that cannot be changed. Because the budget will be placed in a conference report (for Senate Bill 99), it cannot be amended because legislative rules prohibit amendments to conference reports. Therefore, each chamber will have a simple up or down vote next week. If both chambers adopt the SB99 conference report it heads to the Governor. If it fails lawmakers go back to the negotiating table.
School Safety Budget Provisions
A press conference was held Thursday to announce some one-time school safety grants that will be included in the 2018/19 budget. The funds are targeted at priority areas identified by the House Select Committee on School Safety during the interim. Below is a picture tweeted out by Rep. David Lewis highlighting the school safety budget items.
The school safety provisions add up to a total of $35 million but only $28 million is new funding; $7 million can already be found in the budget. We will provide additional details on these items next week.
For up to the minute updates on budget developments next week, be sure to follow the NCSBA Governmental Relations Department on Twitter at @NCSBAGovtRel!
LOCAL EDUCATION FUNDING DISPUTE BILL APPROVED IN CMTE
A compromise bill to modify the process for resolving local education funding disputes was approved by the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee on Monday.
The bill, based on a study of the issue by the Program Evaluation Division, would keep the current process of allowing for mediation if a local school board objects to the amount of local education funding appropriated by the county commissioners. However, if the school board and county commissioners cannot reach an agreement through mediation the bill would eliminate the option for school boards to file a lawsuit and would replace it with a default funding formula. The formula would use the LEA’s student enrollment plus inflation, with funding increasing at a faster pace over three years if an agreement is not reached within the timeframe. None of the bill language would impact or override existing local funding formulas already in place. “Both sides are not entirely happy with this bill that’s before you, but they both seem to live with it,” Rep. Craig Horn (R-Union) told the committee. You can read the recommended bill by clicking here.
A proposed amendment addressing disputes over school construction and facility funding was also discussed. NCSBA Director of Governmental Relations Leanne Winner spoke against the amendment because “it puts the county commissioners completely in charge of capital without the school boards having any way of addressing health and safety, compliance with federal laws, or overcrowding in our schools.” The committee decided to NOT take a vote on the amendment. However, the amendment could reappear later in the process if the bill starts moving through the General Assembly.
Click here to see the full report on the local education funding dispute process published by the Program Evaluation Division.
NOTABLE BILLS THIS WEEK
SB737- Safer Schools, Healthier Kids Act. This bill is a large package of measures designed to reduce school violence. Among the provisions in the bill are a few items that were included in the Governor’s budget addressing school safety. SB737 would provide $25 million to the SBE to enhance school security infrastructure, $40 million for additional school support personnel to help students struggling with mental health challenges (counselors, school nurses, etc.), and $7 million for additional SROs.
SB756- School Security Act of 2018. This would offer a path for teachers to go through the same training process as SROs and become a “teacher resource officer.” These individuals would have “the same powers as municipal and county police officers to make arrests for both felonies and misdemeanors and to charge for infractions.” Funding would be set aside for a 5% salary boost for up to 3,000 teachers to go through this process. The decision as to whether a teacher resource officers could carry firearms would be left to the individual school. A teacher’s identity as a school resource officer would be confidential.
NCSBA LEGISLATIVE WEBINARS
NCSBA’s legislative webinar for May 28 has been cancelled due to the Memorial Day holiday. We will resume our weekly free webinar series on Monday, June 4. Click here to register for the June 4 webinar.
Click here for the list of K-12 bills filed this week that NCSBA is tracking.