NC Senate Releases Budget - And It's Bad
NC educators turn to the NC House for protection from harmful reductions, policies
The NC Senate released a $20.58 billion budget proposal around midnight this morning that includes cuts to North Carolina classrooms and students, but also includes major policy changes not fully vetted by the NC Senate. The NC Senate is expected to pass this budget proposal out of its chamber by Thursday and forward it to the NC House. The NC House budget writers indicate an unwillingness to approve the NC Senate's education budget as proposed.
Click here to read the Senate's education section (appropriately section F) of the budget.
ALERT - ALERT - ALERT: Write to your NC House legislator today about the Senate budget. The NC House, a much friendlier political body towards public education, is next in crafting a budget proposal. House members need to hear from you on what you disapprove of in the Senate budget.
Governor Pat McCrory released a statement of caution regarding the Senate budget: "There are several areas that need further dialogue as they differ from the budget and policies I have previously laid out." On the Governor's list is the expansion of preK education and educator/state employee pay. Email Governor McCrory today and thank him for standing with public education in budget talks.
NCAE President Rodney Ellis: 'Senate Budget Fails Students'
"At a time when North Carolina ranks at the bottom in per pupil spending and educator pay, it was the hope of students, parents, and educators that the North Carolina Senate would choose to invest in our students and educators. Instead the Senate continues to promote draining precious classroom resources, enacting punitive policies towards educators, and failing to give professional educators a financial reason to teach in North Carolina schools. The Senate budget places no value on educators and fails the students we serve each day in our public schools. NCAE looks forward to continuing our ongoing work with the North Carolina House to improve student learning conditions in our state." - Rodney Ellis
No Pay Raise for Public School Educators (or State Employees)
The NC Senate once again proposes freezing pay for public school educators, which includes no step increase for teachers, no cost-of-living adjustment for classified employees and retirees. The Senate does propose giving $10.2 million to superintendents in 2014-2015 to distribute $500 annual pay raises for tenured teachers opting to enter into a four-year terminating contract that relinquishes all tenure property rights.
Eliminates Masters/6-Year/Doctorate Degree Pay in 2014-2015 (Grandfathers Degree Holders)
Beginning in the 2014-2015 academic year, all new Masters/6-Year/Doctorate Degree educators will no longer be eligible for 10% enhanced pay. All educators with Masters/6-Year/Doctorate Degrees who are receiving 10% enhanced pay prior to the 2014-2015 academic year will be grandfathered and their pay will be unchanged prospectively by this proposal. National Board Certification is unchanged in the Senate proposal.
Cuts Over 4,000 Teacher Assistants from Classrooms
While Governor McCrory proposed a $114 million cut to teacher assistants that would eliminate 3,400 of these K-3 instructors, the Senate proposes increasing that cut to $142.3 million in 2013-2014.
Makes the $376 Million Discretionary Cut to Classrooms Permanent
The Senate budget proposal gives the impression it is restoring the $376 million "discretionary" cut to local school districts but look further at the proposal and the Senate is proposing the following line item cuts to local school systems in exchange for a discretionary cut:
$286.4 million in cuts to classroom teachers
$16.9 million in cuts to instructional support personnel
$6.9 million in cuts instructional supplies
$28.4 million in cuts to school bus replacement
$14.9 million cut to low wealth supplemental funding
Add in the $142.3 million cut to teacher assistants and the discretionary cut is made permanent plus new cuts to local school systems
Increases Class Size in Grades K-3 -- Class Size Ratios Repealed
The Senate inserted policy language on page 58 of the omnibus budget text that allows for local school systems to be pack as many students as they wish into grades K-3. NCAE has written extensively about how wrong this policy is here, here, and here. It's worth noting that the Senate is inserting this language from Senate Bill 374 into its budget proposal without a full Senate discussion of the policy change. This provision combined with the permanent cuts outlined above means class size in grades K-3 is certain to increase.
Ends Tenure for ALL Teachers
The Senate budget proposal inserts Senate Bill 361, a bill that ends due process rights for all teachers by placing all teachers on one or four year terminating contracts. This is another bill that has not fully passed the Senate but is being inserted in the spending plan without debate.
Schools are Graded A-F
The Senate budget includes all of Senate Bill 361, which grades schools on a grade of A-F that is calculated by student performance on test scores and, for high schools, graduation rates. 20% of a schools grade is reflective of its growth from the previous year.