The NC House released its budget proposal on Wednesday. We were pleased to see that the budget includes many of the items called for in our 2023-24 Top Education Issues, including important steps to reinstate masters pay and expand the Teaching Fellows program. However, the House Budget proposal does not go far enough in providing the resources needed for children and communities across the state and includes several provisions that would have a detrimental effect on students and educators. Below, we outline elements of the budget proposal that address or partially address our Top Education Issues and identify concerning provisions that we will be monitoring as budget negotiations continue.
Once the House votes on a final budget proposal, it will be the NC Senate’s turn to release their own proposal. After both chambers have approved their budget bills, a conference committee with members from the House and Senate will work together to develop and pass a compromise budget bill. The budget then will go to the Governor, and he will have the option to sign, veto, or allow the budget to become law without his signature. The Governor has already released his budget proposal outlining his priorities (read our statement here). The current version of the House budget proposal would do the following:
Teacher Pay, Recruitment, Retention, and Diversity
- Increase teacher salaries across the board by 7.5% over the biennium (4.25% in year one and 3.25% in year two) in addition to planned step increases. This compares with the 24.5% increases proposed by the Forum. The Governor’s budget proposed a minimum 10% increase in year one and minimum 6% increase in year two. See chart here comparing the 2023-24 salary schedules for the House and Governor’s budget proposals.
- Restore master’s pay for those with relevant degrees.
- Add an additional $70 million for teacher salary supplement assistance for most districts (except Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Wake, Durham, Buncombe, and Guilford).
- Provide 8 weeks paid parental leave for birthing parents, 4 weeks for non-birthing parents.
- Expand the NC Teaching Fellows Program to include all public colleges and universities, four private institutions, and all subject areas.
- Provide $1 million to cover costs for National Board Certification for teachers.
- Increase funding for professional development for educators.
- Increase salaries for principals and non-certified personnel by 7.5% over the biennium. Bus drivers would receive an average 9.5% increase.
Student Mental Health and School Safety
- Provide $40 million for school safety grants.
- Expand the existing school psychologist allotment to include nurses, counselors, and social workers, and rename it “School Health Personnel Allotment.” The proposal would increase funding for positions and provide salary increases for school health personnel.
- Provide funds to reduce school meal debt.
- Provide more than $900 million to address school construction needs.
Leandro Comprehensive Remedial Plan
- The House Budget proposal would not fully fund the Leandro Comprehensive Remedial Plan. The Forum called for fully funding all years of the Comprehensive Remedial Plan, through years 4 and 5. The Governor’s budget would fully fund years 2-5.
Areas of Concern
Several concerning policy provisions that could have a significant impact on public schools were included in the House Budget proposal. These include:
- Academic Transparency: A provision in the budget proposal includes language initially introduced in 2021 that would require teachers to publicly post all lesson plans, course materials, and instructional materials from the prior year on the school website.
- Modernize Selection of Course Materials: Local school boards would be required to establish a local community media advisory committee to investigate and evaluate challenges to curriculum and instructional materials that are considered by parents, teachers, or members of the public to be “unfit.”
- Standard Course of Study Advisory Commission: The budget bill would shift responsibility for developing North Carolina’s standard course of study from the State Board of Education to a commission of which eight members each would be appointed by NC House and Senate leadership. Members would also include the State Superintendent or their designee, the President of the NC Community College System or their designee, the president of the UNC System or their designee, and the President of the North Carolina Chamber or their designee.
- Charter Schools Review Board: The budget proposal includes a provision that would shift responsibility for approving or denying charter school applications from the State Board of Education to the Charter Schools Advisory Board, which would be renamed the Charter Schools Review Board.
- Increasing funding and eligibility for the Opportunity Scholarship Program: The budget would make students eligible for the Opportunity Scholarship Program, which allows families to utilize public dollars to attend private schools, without them having previously been enrolled in a public school for grades K-8. While the private schools are required to give a norm referenced test, the House budget would no longer require schools to report the scores on the test to the state, even if it has more than 25 students receiving vouchers. It also increases funds going toward the Opportunity Scholarship Program every year to total over $350 million per year by 2031-32.
See the House budget bill here. See the money report for the House budget proposal here.
Leave a Reply