NC General Assembly conference committee members released their final plan for the biennium shortly before midnight on Monday, June 19. Senate leaders held votes on the 983-page plan, consisting of a bill and money report, the next day, and the measure passed on Thursday. Although Gov. Cooper vetoed it, that was overridden on June 28, 2017.
Here’s what we know the plan includes so far:
Compensation and benefits
- Average 3.3% teacher pay raise, with raises for almost every step and an increase & bonuses of $385 for 25+ years in 2017-18 and 2018-19
- Retirees will get 1% COLA (this is recurring, not one-time)
- Non-teaching state employees with receive $1,000 raises (not bonuses)
- Raises for assistant principals (avg 13.4% over 2 years) and principals (avg 8.6%). More here.
- Makes 3 teacher bonus programs permanent: Third Grade Read to Achieve Teacher Bonuses, Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate/Cambridge AICE Teacher Bonuses, and the Career and Technical Education Teacher Bonuses
- Adds funding for $2,150 math performance bonuses for grades 4-8 teachers and the same for reading performance bonuses for grades 4-5 , to go to the top 25% statewide and within LEAs in 2017-18 only
- Eliminates retirement health benefits for state employees hired after Jan. 21, 2021. More here.
- Expands teacher assistant tuition assistant program in several counties.
- Funds reimbursing initial teacher license application fees for graduates of an approved NC educator preparation program
Per Pupil Spending
- Per pupil spending, adjusted for inflation, 6.7% below pre-Recession level
- Adds 3,525 new pre-K slots over 2 years, BUT 2/3 of the funding comes from a federal block grant (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF) that is threatened by federal budget cuts
- Does not include funding for specials (Art/Music/PE/world language) teachers when class size restrictions take effect
- Adds $11.2M in non-recurring funds for textbooks
- Increases funding cap for children with disabilities to 12.75%
- Provides an additional $2.4 M recurring for the state’s digital learning plan
- Creates grants for LEAs to expand CTE programs to grades 6 and 7
- Adds $363M to rainy day fund
- Includes Raise the Age language & funding for ADAs
- Cuts personal income tax rate from 5.49% to 5.25% and corporate tax rate from 3% to 2.5% in 2019
- Does not cut Governor’s School or Wright School
- Restores middle-of-the-night Eastern NC STEM summer program cut made in Senate
- Cuts central office administration (LEAs) by 7.4% in first year and 11.6% in the second
- Allows K-3 class size flexibility pilot program ending in 2019-20 for dual language immersion classes and certain schools in Chapel Hill-Carrboro, CMS, Edgecombe, Pitt, Vance, and Washington counties
- Creates Education Savings Accounts for students with disabilities. This will take the form of a taxpayer-funded $9,000 debit card given directly to parents for educational expenses. Parents of students with serious disabilities can receive these funds even if their children are already receiving Disabilities Grants. Management may be contracted to a private financial management firm. Kindergartners will be eligible for this program.
- Adds $10M per year to voucher program until 2027-28 when it will plateau at $144.8M annually; also makes that funding part of the base budget going forward
- Creates a task force to study accountability within the voucher program, with guaranteed representation for: private schools that accept voucher students and associations that represent those schools; organizations “representing parental school choice, such as Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina”; independent organizations that evaluate K12 education; and public school leaders.
Department of Public Instruction/State Board of Education
- Cuts NCDPI by 13.9% over the next 2 years. More here.
- Gives the Superintendent of Public Instruction $1,000,000 to pay for an audit of NCDPI
- Gives the superintendent $700,000 for up to 10 new exempt positions within his office, with no approval from the State Board
- Also gives the superintendent $300,000 for his lawsuit against the State Board and…
- Prohibits the State Board from using any state funds for private counsel in litigation
- Terminated for political reasons the State Board’s Executive Director and employees of NCDPI. Three NCDPI staffers whose firings are written into the budget worked in their spare time on former superintendent’s campaign, and the State Board director represents the GOP-led Board at the legislature.
- Creates Joint Legislative Task Force on education funding reform, with 9 members appointed by each chamber’s leaders by Sept. 1, 2017, to complete a report with proposed legislation by Oct. 1, 2018
- Transfers Education and Workforce Innovation Commission from the governor’s office to NCDPI
- Establishes B-3 Interagency Council between NCDPI and the Department of Health and Human Services, including 2 positions, for “the development and implementation of an interagency plan for a coordinated system of early care, education, and child development services with a focus on program outcomes in satisfying the developmental and educational needs of all children from birth to eight years of age”
- Changes the Achievement School District’s name to the Innovative School District (ISD)
- Creates new, less generous form of the Teaching Fellows program that was axed in 2011. This plan favors STEM/special ed teachers and offers incentives for teaching in low-wealth schools. Contrast the original program with Gov. Cooper’s proposal and the legislative proposal that’s included in the budget here.
- Keeps school performance grade formula at 80% achievement, 20% growth, and switches to 10-point grading scale beginning with 2019-20 school year