May 19, 2016 Legislative Update

 

In This Issue...

House Budget Update
  1. Background and Process
  2. Salary Increases
  3. Special Provisions

Background and Process

Over the past few weeks the House has been working on developing its version of a state spending plan. As background, the budget bill adopted this year will make adjustments to the second year of the two year budget adopted last year by the General Assembly. Stated differently, this year’s spending bill will make tweaks and changes to the budget in place for the fiscal year that starts on July 1, 2016.

The House and Senate budget writers have agreed on a spending target of $22.225 billion for the coming fiscal year. Leaders wanted to reach an agreement on the size of the budget at the outset in hopes of avoiding disagreements over the total spending amount after each chamber had produced its budget.

House budget committees met last Thursday to finalize their respective portions of the budget. The committees reviewed their sections of the budget without many amendments being offered and without much criticism from Democrats. However, teacher and state employee pay increases were not included at that time.

On Tuesday the various portions of the budget were aggregated into one document and teacher and state employee compensation provisions were added. A handful of changes to the state tax code were also included. The full package was approved by the House Finance, Appropriations, and Pensions and Retirement Committees.  The House gave initial approval to an amended budget yesterday evening without much criticism from Democrats.  The budget was given final approval by the House this morning in a largely bipartisan vote of 103-12. The legislation will now head to the Senate.


Salary Increases

Public school teachers on average would receive raises of 4.1 percent. The table below has a more specific breakdown.

Monthly Salary Schedule

FY 2015-16

FY 2016-17

% Increase

Tier 1  0-4

$3,500

$3,500

0%

Tier 2  5-9

$3,650

$3,800

4.1%

Tier 3  10-14

$4,000

$4,200

5.0%

Tier 4  15-19

$4,350

$4,500

3.4%

Tier 5  20-24

$4,650

$4,800

3.2%

Tier 6  25+

$5,000

$5,100

2.0%

 
In addition, Tier 1 and 6 teachers would receive $1,000 bonuses, to be paid out monthly over the course of the year and which would count as compensation for retirement purposes. All teachers would also receive step increases.

Salary Supplements

-  Licensed teachers who have a NBPTS certification would receive a salary supplement each month of twelve percent (12%) of their monthly salary on the "A" salary schedule.

-  Licensed teachers who are classified as "M" teachers would receive a salary supplement each month of ten percent (10%) of their monthly salary on the "A" salary schedule.

-  Licensed teachers with licensure based on academic preparation at the six-year degree level would receive a salary supplement of one hundred twenty-six dollars ($126.00) per month in addition to the supplement provided to them as "M" teachers.*

-  Licensed teachers with licensure based on academic preparation at the doctoral degree level would receive a salary supplement of two hundred fifty-three dollars ($253.00) per month in addition to the supplement provided to them as "M" teachers.*

-  Certified school nurses would receive a salary supplement each month of ten percent (10%) of their monthly salary on the "A" salary schedule.

*Unfortunately, this is not a reinstatement of advanced degree supplements, but rather assurance that they will continue to pay for those that have already earned the supplement.

School-Based Administrators
Principals and assistant principals would receive a 2% salary increase and a step increase if eligible. Those not eligible for a step increase would receive a $500 bonus which would not count as compensation towards retirement. 

Principals and assistant principals with certification based on academic preparation at the six-year degree level would be paid a salary supplement of one hundred twenty-six dollars ($126.00) per month and at the doctoral degree level would be paid a salary supplement of two hundred fifty- three dollars ($253.00) per month.

State Health Plan
The state will increase its contributions to the state health plan by 3.43% in order to plan for future needs.

State Retirees
State retirees would receive a 1.6% cost-of-living increase.


Special Provisions

Driver’s Education
Preserves driver education program funds that would otherwise end as of December 31, 2017.

Literacy Coaches
Cancels the plan to hire more first-grade teachers this fall and applies the $25 million in savings to literacy coaches for the lowest-performing elementary schools.

Teacher Compensation Pilot
The State Board of Education would establish a three-year pilot program to develop advanced teaching roles and organizational models that link teacher performance and professional growth to salary increases in selected local school administrative units for classroom teachers. This provision is very similar to HB 662 (NC Elevating Educators Act of 2015), legislation that PENC opposed because it was in essence a pilot for a pay for performance plan.

Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate Teacher Bonuses
Bonuses would be awarded to teachers of advanced courses according to the following:

-  A bonus in the amount of fifty dollars ($50.00) for each student taught by an advanced course teacher in each advanced course who receives the following score:

-  For Advanced Placement courses, a score of three or higher on the College Board Advanced Placement Examination.

-  For International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme courses, a score of four or higher on the International Baccalaureate course examination.

-  No teacher would be awarded a bonus pursuant to this subdivision that exceeds two thousand dollars ($2,000) in any given school year.

NBPTS Supplement for all Instructional Coaches
Expands access to the NBPTS Supplement to all instructional coaches, not just those working at Title I schools.

Opportunity Scholarship Program
This provision adds children of military families as an eligibility category for the opportunity scholarship grant program.

Non-Instructional Support Staff
An appropriation in the House budget’s money report will switch the funding stream for support staff in public schools. The $57 million in state funding will be replaced with $57 million in lottery receipts. This change does not affect the amount of support staff in schools; it only changes the source of funding.

Virtual Charter School Changes
Decreases the minimum percentage of teaching staff that must reside in North Carolina from 90% to 80%, increases the maximum withdrawal rate to 35% from 25%, and alters the manner in which the percentage of withdrawals is calculated.

On Wednesday the House adopted an amendment that reduced the maximum withdraw rate back to 25%. Later in the session the House adopted another amendment that set criteria for students who are exempted from being counted in the school’s withdraw rate. These exemptions include students who move out of state and students with health or family issues.

Modify School Performance Grades
Modifies the formula used to develop the school performance score so that the school’s achievement score accounts for 50% and the school growth score accounts for 50%. Currently the school’s achievement score accounts for 80% and the school growth score accounts for 20%. PENC views this as a very welcome proposed modification. We have long advocated for a more balanced approach that would incorporate growth in a stronger way to better represent the success of our schools. 

School Start and Release Times
Directs the State Board of Education to study school start and release times for schools. Note, this is a study of the start and release times each day as opposed to a school calendar study.

North Carolina Scholarship for Teacher Advancement and Retention (NCSTAR)
Appropriates $2 million to fund a loan program to incentivize students to pursue teaching opportunities in hard-to-staff licensure areas and hard-to-staff schools. The loans, which have a $8,250 per year maximum, will be forgiven if the student teaches in a hard-to-staff licensure area or hard-to-staff school for four years.