News: CJ Exclusives

Legislators make K-12 education spending a priority in General Fund budget

(Photo Courtesy of Pixabay)
(Photo Courtesy of Pixabay)

Discussions around the revised 2018-19 budget have often focused on K-12 education spending. Teacher and principal pay, as well as school safety, have been hot topics in those discussions.

The budget has made some happy, with Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina praising lawmakers for prioritizing education.

“While there is always more work to be done, we applaud the General Assembly for taking steps to strengthen educational outcomes in our state by committing critical resources to education regardless of school model,” Brian Jodice, the interim president of PEFNC, said.

Here’s how education spending breaks down in the revised budget.

  • Department of Public Instruction: $59,847,276
  • Public School Average Daily Membership Reserve: $48,410,289
  • Adjustment for funds for children with disabilities: The budget allocates $4,442.34 per child for fiscal 2018-19, up from $4,125.27 from the previous fiscal year.
  • Adjustment for funds for academically gifted children: The budget allocates $1,339.14 per child for fiscal 2018-19, up from $1,314.56 from the previous fiscal year.

The House Select Committee on School Safety recommended several additions to the budget to improve student mental health services and school physical security.

  • Statewide anonymous tip line: The budget allocates $5 million in non-recurring funds to develop an app for students to anonymously report potential threats.
  • School Safety grant program: $12 million in recurring funds to award grants for school resource officers in elementary and middle schools.
  • Another $2 million is allocated for non-recurring grants to community partners to provide crisis services.
  • It sets aside $3 million in non-recurring funds for school safety training to help students develop healthy responses to trauma or stress.
  • Another $3 million in non-recurring funds will go for school safety equipment.
  • It allocates $10 million in non-recurring grants for mental health support staff such as school nurses or school counselors.

Teachers, principals, and other school staff will see salary increases and performance based bonuses in the budget.

  • Teachers will receive a 6.5 percent salary increase, amounting to an average 2018-19 teacher salary of $53,700.
  • Principals will receive a 6.9 percent salary increase.
  • Principals overseeing a school in the top 5 percent of statewide growth will receive a $10,000 bonus, top 10 percent of growth will receive a $7,500 bonus, top 15 percent a $5,000 bonus, top 20 percent a $2,500 bonus, and the top 50 percent of growth will receive a $1,000 bonus
    • Principals overseeing schools with a D or F performance grade that meet or exceed growth will receive twice the amount listed in the principal bonus schedule
  • Assistant principals will receive a monthly salary based on the teacher salary schedule, plus a 19 percent supplement for additional academic experience such as a doctoral degree
  • Performance based bonuses of $22 million to fourth- and fifth-grade reading teachers and fourth-eighth grade math teachers whose students achieve the most academic growth
  • Veteran teachers of 25 or more experience will receive a one-time lump sum of $385.
  • Non-certified public school employees will receive a 2 percent pay raise.

The budget includes some other education changes including pilot extensions and school funding models.

  • Cities can use property tax revenue to supplement funding for elementary and secondary public schools. The money may be used to enter into operational financing leases for real property or mobile classrooms; or to pay off loans for school facilities, equipment, or operations.
  • Charter schools, regional schools, a laboratory school, or a local board of education may request appropriations directly from cities.
  • The school finance reform study committee was extended to 2019.
  • The pilot for virtual charter schools was extended until 2022-23.
  • The Advanced Teaching Role pilot program was extended for five years to further develop advanced teaching positions.
  • The State Board of Education shall take roll call votes for every motion, except when voting on textbook adoptions.
  • DonorsChoose will receive a $200,000 grant to provide school supplies to some Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.