May 26, 2015 Legislative Update

 

In This Issue...

  1. PENC Requested Repeal of Personal Education Plan Goes to Gov. McCrory
  2. House Completes Budget Work: Next Step - Senate Response, Rewrite

PENC Requested Repeal of Personal Education Plan Goes to Gov. McCrory

Following Senate actions, the House concurred with the Senate’s changes to,  H 237, Repeal Personal Education Plans, on May 21. It now awaits consideration and approval by Gov. Pat McCrory. 

Most of the provisions remain as the House approved them, including the elimination of the PEP paperwork. The Senate made one change to clarify that local board of education must adopt policies that direct school improvement teams to develop plans to include successful transition between elementary and middle school and between middle school and high school for students at risk. The rest of the provisions remain as the House approved them, including the elimination of the paperwork.

PENC thanks Representatives Jeffrey Elmore (R-Wilkes), Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland) and Bryan Holloway (R-Stokes) for their sponsorship and advocacy efforts in support of the bill.


House Completes Budget Work: Next Step  Senate Response, Rewrite

During a week of marathon negotiations, the House completed its work on May 22 for H97, 2015 Appropriations Act. This is the first step in what is expected to be a long appropriations process. The Senate will review and substantially rewrite the House’s proposal, triggering a conference committee to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions before sending a final budget to Gov. Pat McCrory for approval or veto. The budget that is enacted will be a two-year – or biennial – spending plan.

The House proposal would spend about 6.5 percent more than the current budget and above the Governor’s proposal, which did not have the benefit of the revised – post April 15 – forecast of $400 million in revenues above projections. The House plan would provide across the board salary increases of about 2 percent for most state employees and teachers. In addition, state retirees would see a 2 percent increase in their pension.  Some law enforcement officers would receive a 3 percent increase and teachers who are just starting in the profession (5 years or less) would see their salaries increased to $35,000. PENC has long sought cost of living increases for all educators and will ask Senators to maintain these provisions in their version of the budget. Another major positive development – and PENC priority – is the restoration of Master’s Pay Supplements for educators who meet certain criteria. PENC will strongly advocate preservation of this provision by Senators in the Senate budget, and we thank Rep. Bryan Holloway (R-Stokes) who fought to include the provision in the House budget. Finally, the House budget would provide all state employees and school personnel who are eligible to earn annual leave with 5 additional days. PENC worked with Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake) to include school personnel by amending the budget on the House floor. School personnel were inadvertently omitted from the original provision. PENC thanks Rep. Dollar for his assistance.

To view the proposed House educators' and administrators' salary schedules click here.

Keep in mind, the North Carolina budget is not yet final; nor are the salary schedules.  These are provided simply for PENC members’ reference. The Senate has yet to act on the budget and the amount of salary increases, if any, are unknown.

Funding Changes Propose More Charters, Anticipate Private School Vouchers

The divided House Republican caucus continued support for more reforms and investment in non-traditional public schools and private schools. While PENC’s efforts to scale back and substantially revise the Elevating Educators Act were successful, funds that would otherwise go toward restoring teaching assistant positions or funding educators’ salary increases would go to this and other reforms.  Some of those items are summarized below. To read the entire budget report, see the “money report,” section F.

  • Funding to maintain current number of teaching assistants.
  • Funding for Elevating Educators Act to redesign teaching roles and supplements – $200,000 in 15-16 Fiscal Year (FY) and $10 million in 16-17 FY.
  • Combining line items for Textbooks, Supplies and Digital Resources to $43 million in recurring funds in this fiscal year and next and an additional $4.8 million in nonrecurring funds for the 15-16 FY.
  • Funds to further expand and support school connectivity – $12 million in each year of the biennium.
  • Funds to support NC’s digital learning plan – $9 million in each year of the biennium.
  • Funds to further address School Safety – $1.7 million in FY 15-16 and $1.6 million in FY 16-17. This builds upon the school safety initiative supported by PENC that began after the Sandy Hook tragedy in 2012.
  • Funds AP Teacher and CTE Teachers bonuses based upon students who earn certain grades on exams.
  • Funds for Regional Education Service Alliances for professional development.
  • Restoration of funding in FY 15-16 for drivers’ education – but only for one year.
  • Gives Parents for Education Freedom in North Carolina $1 million in FY 15-16 and in FY 16-17 to accelerate charter school development in rural areas.
  • Provides $6.8 million in one-time funding for Opportunity Scholarships (private school vouchers) for FY 15-16, for eligible students, pending a decision by the courts. The issue is being litigated.
  • Increase of $1.5 million in each year of the biennium  for New Teacher Support Program.

More Reforms

Education continues to be the target for reform.  Numerous provisions within the budget impose reforms or tweak reforms imposed in prior years.

PENC communicated with lawmakers expressing PENC-members’ sentiment of “reform fatigue.” PENC asked members to allow what they enacted during the past four years to work and yield some results before imposing further changes. While some lawmakers continued to advocate for their vision, other lawmakers worked with PENC to slow further reforms to evaluate what works and what doesn’t work.

PENC worked with Rep. Jeffrey Elmore (R-Wilkes) to develop changes to Rep. Craig Horn’s (R-Union) Elevating Educators Act. Rep. Horn envisioned this proposal to be a plan to promote leadership among educators with a differentiated pay model. PENC believed the original version to be a roll-out – up to 60 LEAs in 3 years – of a performance pay model. Rep. Elmore worked with PENC to develop a compromise that would enable more educators to participate in leadership roles, not just educators who scored at certain levels on evaluations. Rep. Horn accepted many of the recommendations and modified others. The result is a true pilot – no more than 10 LEAs in 3 years with a third party independent evaluation at the end of the pilot. The provision appears beginning at Section 8.24 (a) of H 97. 

Another reform for which Rep. Horn advocated addressed the way school principals are prepared and trained. A provision in the UNC budget provisions mirrors H902, which passed the House and was referred to the Senate Rules Committee. The provision – beginning at Section 11.9(a) of H97 –establishes a competitive grant program overseen by an unnamed private company to award funds to support programs that develop well-prepared school leaders.

Finally, a measure to implement Competitive Teaching Scholarship Loan Program, which mirrors H661, would create a commission to award scholarship loans for students who are interested in the teaching profession.  Unlike the highly successful but now expired Teaching Fellows, this program awards loans that must be repaid. The root bill, H661, was referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee, a committee from which few bills emerge. That is an indication of how the Senate will receive this idea when Senators review the House budget.

What do you think?

If you have questions or concerns, please share your thoughts and ideas with us.
Contact us at [email protected].

Submitted by Evelyn Hawthorne


 For more information about the North Carolina General Assembly, click here.
To identify and contact your legislators, click here.

For information about specific issues, please contact PENC government relations consultant Evelyn Hawthorne at [email protected].