- State budget adds $313 million to public school budget
- Gives teachers average 4.7 percent pay raise
- Freezes tuition for new UNC undergrads
Lawmakers from the House and the Senate have agreed on a $22.3 billion state budget. Spending levels represent an increase of 2.8 percent over last year. For those of you who want to examine the actual budget document, access it here.
Final votes on the budget are expected this week. And – barring any last-minute complications – the budget could be on Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk sometime next week.
- $513 million and 4.2 percent – The actual increase in dollars to total education spending (K-12, community colleges and UNC System) over last year’s budget and the percentage increase over last year. 2016-17 Public Education Budget: $12.681 billion.
- $30 million and less than 1 percent – The dollar increase for community colleges over the previous budget and the percentage increase over last year. 2016-17 Community College budget: $1.095 billion.
- $168.9 million and 6.2 percent – Increase in dollars for UNC System over previous budget and the percentage increase over last year. 2016-17 UNC Budget: $2.852 billion.
- $313.9 million and 3.7 percent – Increase in dollars for K-12 Public Schools over the previous budget and the percentage increase over last year. 2016-17 K-12 Public School Budget: $8.773 billion.
Budget Highlights: Pay & Benefits
- Teacher Salaries – Average teacher salaries will increase 4.7 percent. When local supplements are included, average teacher salary will surpass $50,000 this year and over the next three years top $54,000. Every teacher would get a raise, but the majority of raises are focused on experienced teachers.
- State Retirees – Retirees will receive a 1.6 percent one-time bonus. This is not a cost-of-living increase, but a compromise between the House, which wanted a cost-of-living increase, and the Senate which felt a cost-of-living increase would be too expensive.
- School Employees – School professional and LEA staff will receive a 1.5 percent pay increase and a one-time 0.5 percent bonus.
- Reading Teachers – Top 25 percent of third-grade reading teachers whose students excel on state reading tests can earn up to a $6,500 bonus.
Budget Highlights: Noteworthy Provisions
- Access to Affordable College Education – The budget freezes UNC tuition for undergraduates during four years of college and sets tuition at $500 tuition per semester at three UNC institutions: UNC Pembroke, Western Carolina University and Elizabeth City State University. Tuition for out-of-state students is set at $5,000 per year. Legislation also calls for reimbursing institutions for lost tuition money and will cap increases in student fees at 3 percent.
- Alternative Teacher Preparation Program – $500,000 provided to State Board of Education to develop up to five alternative teacher preparation programs to be administered by local board of education.
- NC DPI – Reduces budget for NC Department of Public Instruction by 0.5 percent ($250,000.)
Budget Highlights: School Choice
- Special Education Scholarships – Budget provides an additional $5.8 million to provide grants of up to $4,000 per semester to eligible students. New appropriation is $10 million, an increase of 137 percent over last year.
- Opportunity Scholarships – Budget provides $34.8 million for “Opportunity Grant Fund Reserve.” Program funding for 2015-16 was about half that: $17.6 million.
Budget Lowlights: Provisions We Wish Weren’t in the Budget
- Teacher Bonuses – Provides $4.3 million for a two-year teacher pilot program that will pay teachers $50up to $2,000 a year) for each student who takes either Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses and achieves at least a grade of 3 or higher on the College Board Advanced Placement Examination. Bonuses will also go teachers whose students in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme, score a four or higher on the IB course examination. However, the value and validity of AP and IB courses has been called into question for years. (See here, here and here.) The College Board – which developed Common Core Standards – gains a handsome revenue stream from AP classes. The prevalence of AP and IB courses also increases the College Board’s already heavy influence on what is taught and tested in North Carolina classrooms.
- UNC Reimbursement – Provides $500,000 to UNC Chapel-Hill to reimburse it for penalties charged because the campus exceeded the 18 percent cap on out-of-state students. The reimbursement undercuts the authority of the UNC Board of Governors to set tuition policy, treats North Carolina taxpayers as second-class citizens, and sets a dangerous precedent of treating one campus differently than others.
- School Performance Grades – Legislation lowered performance grades from a 10-point scale to a 15-point scale for the next three years. The legislation lowers scores for each grade and lowers the floor for failure from 60 to 40 percent. Lowering the score on failure is not a good thing.
For a comprehensive look at education policy in North Carolina dating back to 1985, check out the Civitas Institute’s public policy series here.