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Yesterday, NC House Republicans
released their 2015-17 biennial budget proposal. School-based personnel are the big winners.
Although I agree that other parts of the House budget are problematic,
their K-12 education budget includes additional funding for a number of promising
initiatives and research-based programs. Clearly, the Republican leadership recognizes that boosting
student performance requires targeted investments in public school
personnel. Moreover, I am pleased that
the House chose to increase Opportunity Scholarship funding, which was one of
the few shortcomings of the governor's otherwise solid
education budget. Then again, the
governor and his budget staff did not have the benefit of working with a
Similar to governor's plan, the single largest K-12 increase
is the $100 million allocation to fund school enrollment growth in FY 2015-16
and over $207 million for enrollment increases in FY 2016-17. Much of
this would be used to pay for hundreds of new teaching positions.
In addition, all education personnel, with the exception
of first-year teachers, would receive a 2 percent across-the-board raise. The base salary for starting teachers would
increase from $33,000 to $35,000 per year, a 6 percent increase. Current teachers would advance one step
on the teacher salary schedule.
Legislators also add a sixth tier to the statewide teacher salary
schedule for educators paid as psychologists.
Budget writers incorporate a number of faculty and
staff development programs. Their plan
includes a $4 million biennial appropriation for regional leadership academies,
$1.2 million for career and technical education teacher bonuses, $126,500 for
Advanced Placement summer professional development institutes, $8.2 million in
bonuses for Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate teachers, $3.6
million for school safety and instructional support personnel, and $200,000 for
a teacher education redesign pilot program.
Over $10 million would be used for the NC Elevating Educators Act of
2015, an initiative that would create and fund advanced teaching roles for K‑12
And just when you thought that lawmakers could not pour any
additional money into faculty and staff development, they add $4.8 million in
recurring grants for training efforts coordinated by Regional Education Service
Alliances, $2.4 million for Visiting International Faculty (VIF), and $300,000
for the Distinguished Leadership in Practice development program for
Hey, lookie here, the UNC budget has $3 million for North
Carolina New Teacher Support, $3.2 million for teacher recruitment and
retention, $700,000 for an evaluation of teacher recruitment and retention
programs, and $10 million for principal preparation.
Lawmakers also fund a number of alternative instructional
programs. They make huge investments in textbooks/digital
resources/software, school connectivity, and digital learning, adding nearly
$140 million in state funding to the effort.
Additionally, they infuse nearly $6.4 million in additional funding for
Cooperative and Innovative High Schools.
Four million dollars would be granted to the North Carolina New Schools
Project for a competency education pilot program. A $2 million grant would be awarded to
Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina for a charter school
development project, a grant unlikely to make the cut during budget
Interestingly, relatively few expansion items would benefit
students directly. The budget calls on
the NC Department of Public Instruction to develop and implement a pilot
program for an "integrated community-based adapted sports program for
students with disabilities in grades K-12." A $200,000 grant to Beginnings for Children
would expand services for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. In addition to a $200,000 grant to fund the
Science Olympiad, a $205,000 grant would be awarded for a residential science,
mathematics, engineering, and technology (STEM) program for students who attend
public high schools in Northampton County.
Most importantly, the budget would add $6.8 million to the Opportunity
Scholarship Program, which provides private school vouchers to low-income children
as well as opportunities for liberal groups to make
In fact, none of these proposals satisfy the North Carolina
Association of Educators (NCAE) and other public school advocacy groups. Budgets proposed by Republicans trigger
responses from the Left that are hilariously predictable. For example, NCAE's main concern is ensuring
that the state place greater emphasis on flawed rankings of per pupil expenditures
and average teacher pay (See Quote of the Week below). These rankings, which are published by their bosses
at the National Education Association, fail to account for important
differences among states, including cost of living, benefits, and variations in
While House members may still offer amendments to the plan,
I suspect that major education provisions will remain intact. Soon the question will be whether the Senate
follows their lead.
Acronym of the
VIF -- Visiting International Faculty
Quote of the Week
proposed House budget does not go far enough to ensure every child will receive
a quality education in North Carolina. The House's budget takes some small
steps over the governor's earlier proposal, but it will not make a dent in
North Carolina's national per-pupil expenditure and average teacher pay
rankings. North Carolina is better than this. Our students and public schools
deserve a bold plan that will help them be successful and elevate North
Carolina into the forefront of public education in the Southeast and the
From NCAE President Rodney Ellis on the Proposed House Budget
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