As we mentioned last night, here are more details on the compromise that was reached on HB-13 during the Senate Education Committee vote. The “compromise” amends HB-13 as follows:

  1. For one year, eases the class size restrictions the way the original HB-13 intended;
  2. Starting the following year, imposes the same harsh class size restrictions in the current budget; again leaving no room for funding specialists;
  3. Specifically imposes a duty on the LEAs to provide adequate classrooms to meet the demands imposed by the state (this is an assurance that the State will not help fund the mandate is has created);
  4. Imposes new and stringent reporting requirements on the school systems, demanding, among other things, that they submit reports about what “enhancement teachers” they need;
  5. Provides no source of funding, not any promise of funding, for those “enhancement teachers.”

Senator Chad Barefoot indicated in the meeting that the NCGA would, at some unspecified later date, provide funding for specialists, but that language is not included in the bill. Basically, our schools would be required to comply with this new law, but the NCGA has no corresponding obligation to provide the funding needed to ensure compliance.

Of note, too, is the fact that Barefoot mentioned in Committee last night that the NCGA didn’t realize that specialists were paid from the same funding allotment as classroom teachers. This a fundamental component of education funding here in NC, and has been since Barefoot was a child. In other words, the NCGA didn’t bother gaining even a cursory understanding of school funding before imposing changes that would have a massive effect on our schools. And now, we’re supposed to trust this same intellectually lazy group to somehow do the right thing? No. The fight continues.

Calls to Action

Here’s what we are asking for today:

1. If HB-13 passes as amended with no further changes, ask your representative to support including complete funding both for classroom teachers and specialists in the budget they are constructing right now. This budget provides two years’ worth of funding, so they must include full teacher funding this year to avoid a problem for the 2018-2019 school year.

2. Add two provisions to HB-13. First, a requirement that the NGCA provide adequate funding for both classroom teacher AND specialists (something the current law does not do). Second, a provision that local school boards’ compliance with the class size law be contingent on such funding being provided. If the NCGA does not provide adequate funding for both specialists and classroom teachers, then local school boards are released from complying with the class size reductions.

3. When you write, please note that the NCGA still contains an unfunded mandate, as it specifically requires that local school boards fund the new classrooms that the state’s mandate will require. This is a secondary issue in many places, but it is still important.

Script:

Hello, Sen/Rep. ______. I am _______ and I live in ______. I’m calling to urge you to vote against HB-13 as amended by the Senate Education Committee last night. While I appreciate that the Senate is finally considering HB13, the proposed amendments do not solve the problem with the current class size law; they merely kick the problem down the road. I would support a bill that included a mandate that the NCGA provide full funding for both classroom teachers and specialists, and that made local compliance with the class size mandates contingent upon such funding.

NC Senate Education Committee Contacts April 2017