This week’s call to action is in support of HB-13. Thanks to Renee Sekel for providing us with all of this good information!
The NC legislature has recently lowered the class-size “caps” for grades K-3 in all NC schools. While small class sizes are an admirable goal, the requirement to lower class sizes comes with significant negatives:
- First, the NCGA has mandated that each of these smaller classes be taught by a certified K-3 teacher, who of course must be hired. However, the NCGA has not included any additional funding for this purpose – principals will instead be expected to fund those additional classroom teachers from their current budgets. Functionally, this means that they will be forced to lay off current teachers, most likely those who specialize in Art, Music, PE and STEM. This would reduce or eliminate specials as currently offered in our schools.
- Even if this mandate were fully funded, many (if not most) schools in Wake County and throughout the state are functioning at or over capacity. There is literally no physical space to add more classes, unless we convert space currently used for other functions to classroom space. Wake County estimates that it would cost about $300 million to create enough classroom capacity for all of its schools to comply with this new mandate (though, of course, even if that money existed, it would not be possible to build all of those new schools by the start of the 2017-2018 school year).
- The law also requires that all students receive art, music and P.E. instruction. It provides no guidance as to how school can or should continue to offer these classes if they lack both the budgets to pay these teachers and the space in which to teach those classes. It is possible that classroom teachers could be asked to add teaching these subjects to their current responsibilities, but this creates a conflict with another section of the law, which mandates that all teachers be provided with a planning period each day.
In short, there is no possible way many schools can comply with all aspects of the state’s education requirements if the law as it is currently written remains in place. The money and the space simply do not exist. And while our principals, the School Board and the Superintendent are all working hard to find ways to comply with the law, every idea comes with some unpalatable tradeoffs.
If you want more information about the bill and this process, please visit our FAQ page.
HB13 Call to Action
If we don’t pass HB13 soon, hundreds – perhaps thousands – of NC teaching positions will be eliminated. Please call State Senators Chad Barefoot (919.715.3036) & Bill Rabon (919.733.5963) to tell them to bring it to the Senate floor. The corresponding Senate Bill is SB541, which has been pushed to the Senate Rules committee (not the Education committee) which is an indication that it will not be passed soon.
Here is a list of the NC Senators on the Education Committee and their contact details to make outreach easier. NC Senate Education Committee Contacts April 2017