Lawmakers reach agreement on budget

In the final week before the end of the fiscal year, the Republican-led House and Senate agreed to a budget compromise that includes a 4.2% average increase for teachers for 2022-23, bringing the total teacher salary increase to 6.7%.

Last year’s long session budget provided for an average salary increase of 2.5% in the second year of the biennium, so the proposed new salary increase is on top of that. Entry-level teachers will now start at $37,000 instead of just over $35,000 they previously received.

“The rise of new teachers with inflationary pressures and labor market issues, I think that’s a big step forward,” Rep. Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes, said at a press conference. tuesday.

Here is the new salary grid for teachers.

Here is the old one:

The budget also includes a new teacher bonus program that ties payment to the teacher’s student growth scores.

Additionally, non-certified personnel, such as bus drivers, will either get a 4% wage increase or their wages will go up to $15 an hour. They will get whoever is the most.

school safety

While teacher salaries are always the high point of any budget, given the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, this budget also includes additional funds for school safety.

The Legislature is investing $32 million in the School Safety Grant Program, including money for school safety training and school safety equipment. Additionally, lawmakers are giving public schools $15 million for the School Resource Officer Grant Program, focusing the money on elementary and middle schools. The plan also increases the state match. Previously, the state gave $2 for every $1 provided by a district. This plan increases that is $4 for every $1.

Another $26 million will go toward an allocation to help districts provide a school resource officer for each high school.

Local supplements

One of the most innovative aspects of the long-session budget was a plan to distribute $100 million among school districts to provide local supplements. The money was distributed to localities with an emphasis on districts with fewer resources to provide their own local supplements. The new budget brings funding for this plan to a total of $170 million.

Opportunity scholarships

A controversial measure championed by Republicans is the Opportunity Scholarship Program, which gives public funds to students to attend private schools. It started as a program for the poorest students in the state, but over time lawmakers expanded the number of students eligible for the program. Opponents often call it a voucher program.

In the new budget, lawmakers invested $56 million in the scholarship reserve and expanded income eligibility to 200% of the amount students need to qualify for a free or discounted lunch .

Transportation

One of the main concerns of the State Board of Education and the State Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is rising fuel costs for school transportation. The budget provides $32 million for a reserve of transportation fuel that DPI can use to help districts that need help. The money for this is non-recurring.

Note: JavaScript is required for this content.

Pre-K

Last year’s budget increased the reimbursement rate that child care centers get for NC Pre-K by 4% in the biennium. The new budget increases it by an additional 5% for a total increase of 9% in 2022-2023.

According to EdNC Early Childhood Education reporter Liz Bell, “The rate hike is intended to address disparities in teacher pay between schools. Centers have long struggled to retain teachers, and the pandemic has exacerbated the problem. »

hold harmless

While the long-session budget passed last year included a disclaimer for districts that saw a drop in average daily enrollment due to COVID-19, it only applied to the first year of the biennium. The disclaimer ensures that districts do not receive less funding due to a decline in student population.

The budget retained by lawmakers this week does not provide for an exoneration for 2022-23.

Leandro

The long-running Leandro case is currently before the North Carolina Supreme Court, and it will ultimately decide whether a judge’s decision to force the state to pay $1.7 billion to fund the plan was appropriate or not. .

Meanwhile, Every Child NC, a group advocating the Leandro multi-year plan that aims to bring the state into line with its constitutional duty on education, said on Twitter that the budget funds about half of what is requested in the plan.

Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, was asked at a news conference on Tuesday whether Leandro was part of lawmakers’ scrutiny as the budget was being crafted.

“I think what we’ve done is we’ve looked at what the public education funding requirements are in North Carolina and we’ve allocated funds to do that,” he said. declared. “How that equates to what a California nonprofit has determined to be an appropriate amount, I can’t say.”

The reference to the California nonprofit is to WestEd, the organization that originally developed an action plan to help the state align with its constitutional obligations.

A protest aimed at getting lawmakers to address Leandro occurred outside the General Assembly as the budget was heard by lawmakers in a joint appropriations committee.

Community colleges

Community college staff receive an additional general salary increase of 1%. This is for most employees. If an employee is paid on an experience-based salary scale, they get a 2% salary increase. Last year, lawmakers implemented a 2.5% pay raise for community college staff. The increases in this budget are on top of that.

However, the budget also cuts funding for community colleges across the state by just over $12 million to account for the 2,009 decrease in “full-time equivalent students” at community colleges.

There’s also money in the budget for myFutureNC, the organization charged with helping the state achieve its goal “that by 2030, 2 million North Carolinas will have a post-secondary degree or credential.”

In addition to a $250,000 grant directly to the organization, there is $500,000 for an Interoperable Student Data Systems Study Fund and $160,000 for a National Center Data Fund. exchange of student information.

Other things to note

The budget provides funds to ensure that students who qualify for the discounted lunch can eat for free. Recent legislation at the federal level would also have provided this coverage.

Additionally, in line with DPI’s push for reading science to be integrated into reading instruction, the budget provides money for 124 literacy coaches and early learning specialists. This is something the State Board of Education and the DPI advocated.

Infrastructure is also a big concern for districts across the state, with billions needed across the state to repair and construct school buildings. The budget takes $431 million from the North Carolina Education Lottery in the fiscal year and puts it into the needs-based public schools capital fund.

The bill also includes funding for three new innovative cooperative high schools. They are:

  • Cabarrus Early College of Health Sciences
  • EDGE Academy of Health Sciences
  • Wake Early College of Information and Biotechnology

In total, legislators are providing $29.2 million in 2022-23 for innovative cooperative high schools.

Feminine hygiene products will become easier for female students to access within the budget. The budget includes a recurring amount of $250,000 so that schools can obtain grants to provide such products.

The pilot for the state’s two virtual charter schools — which have historically performed poorly — has been extended for two years through the 2024-25 school year.

The budget was taken up again today in the Joint Appropriations Committee, but only for discussion. Since the budget was written as a conference report, no amendments can be added and it will only receive a yes or no vote when it reaches the floor of the House and Senate. This article will be updated as the budget moves through the legislative process.

Comments are closed.