NCSBA Legislative Update – May 13, 2022

 

The State Revenue Consensus Forecast was released this week and shows projections of a $4.24 billion (14.9%) budget surplus for the current 2021-2022 fiscal year and a $1.9 billion (6.8%) budget surplus for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. This surplus can be attributed to several factors, including:

  • State employment had returned to pre-pandemic levels by the summer of 2021 and had already exceeded the pre-pandemic forecast by March 2022
  • Significant stock market returns and corporate profits
  • Sales tax and corporate income tax collections are expected to exceed the previous forecast
  • Higher expected sales tax and use revenues

Despite this surplus, the forecast warns that there is an elevated risk of recession because of geopolitical uncertainty, and that inflation will remain high but decelerate during the 2022-2023 fiscal year. There is also uncertainty on consumer spending as inflation persists.

House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger released a joint statement on the revenue forecast, indicating that they plan to save much of the surplus: “it is crucial that we continue on this track of responsible and disciplined spending in light of the potential for a recession.” Governor Roy Cooper’s recommended State budget adjustments that were also released this week include an additional $2.3 billion for the 2022-2023 fiscal year, which is over half of this current fiscal year’s surplus (more on this in the next section).

 

On Wednesday, Governor Cooper released his recommended State budget adjustments for the 2022-2023 fiscal year, which includes an additional $1.35 billion for K-12 education. The release came a week before the General Assembly will convene for its 2022 legislative short session on Wednesday, May 18.

The Governor’s budget priorities include $525.8 million to fully fund year three of the Leandro Plan (as well as studies called for in year two that are currently not funded) and the following highlights:

Salaries

  • At least a 7.5% raise for all teachers over the biennium
    • State budget includes an average 2.5% raise in each year
    • Governor recommends adding 2.5% in the second year, making it 5%
    • This 5% raise would affect all school employees paid on the teacher salary schedule
  • Reinstatement of master’s pay for teachers
  • 5% raise for principals, central office, and noncertified school employees over the biennium
    • State budget includes a 2.5% salary increase in each year
    • Governor recommends adding 2.5% in the second year, making it 5%
    • For the 2022-2023 fiscal year, noncertified personnel would receive the greater of the 5% increase or the $15/hour minimum wage set in the State budget
  • Supplemental funds for teacher compensation
    • Adds another $75 million in supplemental funds for teachers, which was included in the State budget and excluded five counties based on a county’s respective tax base, median household income, and effective tax rate
    • Governor recommends including all counties and increasing the per-teacher allotment cap from $4,250 to $5,000

Bonuses

  • Teachers, instructional support personnel, assistant principals, and principals would receive either a $3,000 bonus (for those making less than $75,000) or a $2,500 (for those making more than $75,000)
  • Other school district employees, including all state and locally funded education employees, would receive either a $2,000 bonus (for those making less than $75,000) or a $1,500 bonus (for those making more than $75,000)
  • Half of the bonus will be paid in fall 2022 and half in spring 2023

Mental Health Support

  • Approximately 850 full time equivalent (FTE) school counselors, nurses, social workers, and psychologists
    • Each LEA will receive at least one FTE from these new funds
    • Flexibility for LEAs to strategically hire staff to best meet the needs of students
  • School safety grants to support students in crisis and provide school safety and mental health training
  • 115 year-long school psychologist internship positions at the equivalent of a starting teacher salary

Early Literacy and Teacher Assistants

  • Additional teacher assistants (TAs) to improve literacy and support K-3 students by more closely aligning with nationally recommended student-to-staff ratios
  • Early literacy
    • Eight regional coaches
    • One implementation coordinator
    • 115 early literacy specialists to support Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) science of reading training

NC Pre-K

  • Increases NC Pre-K reimbursement rates by 19% and administrative rates from 6% to 10%

School Construction

  • $500,000 to each public school unit (PSU) for construction and renovation of school facilities
  • Remaining funds will be allocated on the basis of average daily membership (ADM) for the 2021-2022 fiscal year

School Transportation

  • Increases funding for maintaining and operating school transportation fleets in order to fully fund rising costs, including fuel

Click here for all recommended budget adjustments and click here for the Governor’s plan for stronger schools. Click here for an article on the education sections of the Governor’s budget priorities.

NCSBA Support

NCSBA shares many of the Governor’s K-12 short session budget priorities, including additional TAs, pay increases and bonuses for all school employees, and additional mental health support personnel and funding flexibility (more on why this is important in the next section).

 

The NC Child Fatality Taskforce released its annual report, which includes the following data facts and trends:

  • Suicide was the leading cause of death for children ages 10-14 in 2020
  • Suicide was the third leading cause of death for children ages 15-17 in 2020
  • The percentage of high school students who strongly agree or agree that they feel good about themselves continues to decrease
  • NC does not have nearly enough mental health support personnel in schools to meet the nationally recommended ratios

NCSBA continues to advocate for additional school mental health support personnel, with a focus on giving school districts the authority to decide which positions to fill based on student need.

Click here for the report and click here for an article on the report.

 

In addition to the 2022 short session budget priorities that we share with the Governor, NCSBA also supports continued use of remote/virtual instruction, improvements to the school calendar, and ADM hold harmless. Click here for NCSBA’s virtual instruction issue brief to learn more about why this is such an important issue. This legislative priority was proposed by NCSBA’s Legislative Committee and received overwhelming support from NCSBA’s Delegate Assembly.

 

House Select Committee on an Education System for North Carolina’s Future

On Monday, the Committee held a meeting that included a presentation on teacher compensation and benefits, Committee discussion, and a public comment period. The presentation compared State salary schedule structures, explained recent changes to teacher pay, compared teacher benefits to neighboring states, and provided considerations for modifications to teacher compensation and benefits.

Committee member discussion was initiated by Chair John Torbett, R-Gaston, who suggested the idea of replacing principals and assistant principals with executive educators who would teach a couple of classes a week but still manage all students. Multiple Committee members emphasized the need for school discipline, with Representative Rachel Hunt, D-Mecklenburg, noting the need to also expand mental health interventions. Click here for an article on the meeting.

 

Grants are available through the Fiscal Year 2022 School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP) via the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). The program’s goal is to improve security at schools and on school grounds through evidence-based school safety programs and technology. Under this program, $53 million is available to states, local governments, Indian tribes, and their public agencies, including school districts, school boards, and law enforcement agencies.

Each application must be accompanied by an assurance that the application was prepared after consultation with individuals not limited to law enforcement officers (including licensed mental health professionals, social workers, students, parents, school violence researchers/academics (if practical), teachers, principals, and other school personnel) to ensure that improvements to be funded under the grant are consistent with a comprehensive approach to preventing school violence; protective of student privacy and ensure that students are not discriminated against on the basis of race, national origin, disability, religion, or sex; and, individualized to the needs of each school at which those improvements are to be made.

Applications are due by June 14. Click here for the announcement and submission guidelines.

Grants are also available for the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA) STOP School Violence Program. Applications may be submitted that address one or more of the following areas:

  • Developing and operating technology solutions such as anonymous reporting systems for threats of school violence
  • Multidisciplinary behavioral threat assessment and/or intervention teams; training school personnel and educating students on preventing school violence, including strategies to improve a school climate
  • Specialized training for law enforcement who work in schools and/or with school-age populations such as school resource officers (SROs) and probation officers
  • Hiring of school support personnel such as climate specialists, school psychologists, school social workers, school-based violence interrupters, and others directly supporting the prevention of school violence

Applications are due by June 14. Click here for the full grant announcement.

 

Both the House and Senate convene for the 2022 legislative short session on Wednesday, May 18 at noon. Click here to livestream the House session and click here to live stream the Senate session.

 

 

 

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.org

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
rhoward@ncsba.org

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – May 13, 2022