SB 361 (Excellent Public Schools Act of 2013)
This is the Senate’s educational-omnibus bill of the current legislative session. The bill would give state employees up to five hours of leave time to volunteer in a school literacy program (currently, school employees are included in this provision). It would replace career status with teacher contracts of one to four years and phase out career status by 2018. One-year contracts would go to teachers who have been employed for less than three years. Teachers with three or more years of experience would be eligible for a one- to four-year contract. The specific duration for each teacher would be recommended by the superintendent to the local board of education, which would make the final decision. During the 2014-2015 school year, the superintendent would recommend up to 25 percent of teachers with three consecutive years of teaching for four-year contracts. On school performance grades, the school report cards would show student growth and whether a school met, exceeded or did not meet expected growth; however, that factor would not be used to calculate the A-F grading each school will receive. The same grading system would be used for charter schools. There is also a stated intent in the bill to implement a robust pay-for-performance plan.
Status: Passed the Senate Education Committee and now in Senate Appropriations.
HB 719 (Education Improvement Act of 2013)
This is the House of Representative’s educational-omnibus bill of the current legislative session. HB 719 was written with substantial input from those who established the Colorado model, especially around changes surrounding career status. Teachers who attain an evaluation of “highly effective” by the end of their fourth year would be eligible for career status. However, teachers could lose their career status and go back down to probationary status for two years if they receive two consecutive years of ratings that indicate “in need of improvement.” At the end of the two-year probationary period, the teacher would not be eligible for career status if the teacher received a rating of “in need of improvement,” at which point the teacher could only hope to be employed as an at-will teacher. The bill would also allow teachers to petition the local board of education to dispute the annual evaluation, but the board will decide whether to hold a hearing on the petition or to deny the teacher’s request. The bill has also been amended to include six teacher performance ratings, including student growth. It also now includes three teacher status categories of “highly effective,” “effective,” and “in need of improvement.” HB 719 would go into effect starting with the 2014-2015 school year.
Status: Passed the House and now in Senate Ways and Means.
HB 935 (NC Pre-K Law Changes)
HB 935 would cut eligibility for NC Pre-K services in half for North Carolina children, lowering eligibility from roughly 200% of the federal poverty line to 100% (approximately $19,500 with a family of four), while also including children with IEPs and children of military families. This would mean that instead of about 60,000 children qualifying, only 30,000 North Carolina public school children would qualify as “at-risk” and be eligible to receive Pre-K services in North Carolina.
Status: Passed 2nd Reading in the House (63-46) and will be heard for a 3rd (final) reading on Monday, May 6, 2013.
HB 944 (Opportunity Scholarship Act)
HB 944 is the House’s version of a school voucher bill. For the 2013-2014 school year, families making up to 225% of the federal poverty guidelines would be eligible for a $4,200 voucher per year per child (mailed directly to the school), and up to 300% of the federal poverty guidelines for the 2014-2015 school year. As the bill currently reads, this means that about 65% of children currently enrolled in North Carolina public schools would be eligible.
Status: House Education Committee.
SB 374 (NC Public Schools Budget Flexibility Act)
SB 374 would eliminate caps on individual class sizes, giving local boards of education total flexibility as to how to use allotted teacher positions to maximize classroom flexibility in their districts. At present, the state of North Carolina funds one teacher for every 18 students in grades K-3, which covers both core and elective classes.
Status: Passed Senate Education and now in Senate Appropriations.