March 14, 2017 Legislative Update
In This Issue...
The pace is beginning to pick up in Raleigh, and lawmakers have been busy working on many education related matters. From the governor’s proposed budget to an announcement of a newly designed Teaching Fellows Program unveiled in a press conference last week, there will be a lot for lawmakers to consider in the coming months.
Governor Roy Cooper released his biennium budget, which proposes a 5 percent average pay increase for teachers in 2017-18 and 5 percent average increase in 2018-19, increasing salaries up to a $55,000 average annual salary by 2019. Governor Cooper’s budget also calls for an average raise of 6.5% for school based administrators. While the Governor’s budget is the initial step in the state budget process, the North Carolina House and Senate will also release budgets before a compromise spending plan is adopted.
The North Carolina General Assembly has expressed its desire to raise both teacher and principal pay in their biennium budget. Senate leaders filed a bill just last week that would raise administrative pay in the 2017-18 fiscal year by 7 percent above the average total salary paid to principals in the 2016-17 fiscal year. However, in lieu of a salary schedule, these funds would be distributed to LEAs for them to be dispersed at the discretion of the LEA.The Senate will release their official budget by mid to late April, and then the House will follow with their own spending plan. Hopefully, a budget will be discussed, voted on, and passed by the end of June that increases pay for both teachers and administrators.
Representative Horn and Senator Barefoot held a press conference last week to unveil their new Teaching Fellows proposal. The proposal would create a forgivable loan of up to $8,250 per year for students willing to go into a STEM or special needs area. This loan program would help address the current shortage in math, science, and special education teachers. It also allows loans to be forgiven more quickly if applicants agree to teach in a low-performing school. Though this structure is different than the former Teaching Fellows Program, it is encouraging that legislators in both chambers of the NC General Assembly support bringing it back in some form.
We continue to work on the K-3 class size issue. We hope you received our advocacy alert last week and were able to participate. The NC General Assembly is aware of the potential losses the new class size law could cause. Though reducing class size is important, doing so at a rate we can afford to keep all teachers employed is vital. We hope that the North Carolina Senate will react soon before counties have to start making tough budgetary decisions.
Other bills of interests that have been filed in the North Carolina General Assembly are the following. Click on the link to read the bill:
We will continue to keep you updated as other important education bills are filed and passed in the NC General Assembly. Please feel free to contact PENC’s Lobbyist, Bryan Holloway at email@example.com if you have any questions.
Submitted by Bryan Holloway