The NC Senate released a budget plan for the next two years on May 10, 2017, a day after releasing some details without the full plan. The full chamber passed the bill at 3:08AM on May 12.
- Raises teacher pay by an average of 3.7%, with starting salary still at $35,000 and our most veteran teachers receiving no increase (More here)
- Funds principal and assistant principal raises with $28M and almost $34M in the second year with the money coming from lottery proceeds (More here)
- Provides LEA employees with raises of 1.5% or $750, whichever is greater
- Funds an Average Daily Membership increase of 9,120 students for the coming year
- Adds almost 1,200 new pre-K slots each year, ending with 2,400 spots for an annual waiting list of 7,000 known-eligible children
- Makes the three teacher bonus pilot programs – Third Grade Reading Teachers, AP/IB Teachers, and CTE Teacher Bonuses – begun last year recurring, although no results are in from those pilots. Also extends the AP/IB and CTE Teacher bonuses to charter school teachers retroactively for 2016-17
- School performance grades remain 80% achievement and 20% growth and use a ten-point scale for letter grades. Also, NC DPI will have to create a webpage for each school that “prominently displays the school’s performance grade” and whether it met or exceed growth
- The definition of a low-performing school is: “an overall school performance grade of D or F and a school growth score of ‘met expected growth’ or ‘not met expected growth'”
- Codifies the ban on school boards suing counties
- Reduces NC DPI’s operating funds by 25%, but gives the superintendent $300,000 for his ongoing lawsuit against the State Board of Education and funds 5 new positions that will report directly to him
- Cuts four positions employed by the State Board of Education
- Creates Educational Savings Accounts for students with disabilities (the same way our voucher program began) with $450K in the first year and $1M in the second. The program will give up to $9,000 in tax money directly to parents for educational expenses annually. Certain families may be eligible to receive both an ESA and a voucher! The budget allows for a private firm to manage the accounts and another to audit the program. (More here)
- Funds the proposed STEM/Special Ed Teaching Fellows program. (You can compare Gov. Cooper’s proposal, this plan, and the original Teaching Fellows program here.)
- Turns driver’s ed program, which is currently offered for free, into a voucher system that will reimburse eligible students up to $275 for “a public or private driver education course”
- Adds $11M to textbook funding, some of which simply replaces the non-recurring funds added last year and which falls far short of the $48M increase requested by the State Board of Education
- Reduces central office funding by 10.5% in the first year and almost 16% in the second
- (As amended) Eliminates the Governor’s School, a summer program for gifted high school students that has particularly benefitted talented students from low wealth counties, in the second year and creates the Legislative School for Leadership & Public Service instead. The funding is taken by further cutting UNC Centers & Institutes
- Closes the Wright School, a residential mental health center and school for students with emotional and behavioral disorders
- Provides additional funding for the New Teacher Support Program
- Increases the Opportunity Scholarship budget by $20M in the first year and $30M in the second year of the biennium
- Denies future employees, including teachers, state employee health benefits upon retirement, damaging our ability to recruit new teachers
The Department of Public Instruction has a useful spreadsheet available for download that compares Gov. Cooper’s proposal with the Senate’s adopted budget, including comparisons of the salary and benefit packages and pay schedules for teachers and principals.
We will continue to update this post as we parse the budget documents.