JOINT LEGISLATIVE EDUCATION OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE SUMMARY

January 14, 2009

Shirley Iorio, committee staff person, presented each of the recommendations and bills included in the report to the Committee members.  The revenue problems for the State were raised as members reviewed the report that included several bills with new funding in them. Representative Yongue and Senator Swindell reminded members not to loose sight of the importance of the recommendations regardless of the funding. These issues are being proposed and are important to keep in front of the legislature. This is a long process. The bills will have to be heard in several committees and on the floor of the House and Senate before final adoption. Changes and adjustments may be made and will be made by those interested in the legislation when these bills are heard in committee.

 

2009 Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee Findings and Recommendations

1.     Child Nutrition Adopted Bill and Recommendation

(a) The Committee recommends legislation to fund Child Nutrition Programs.  The legislation provides for $20 million in an allocation to support adoption of the child nutrition standards in elementary schools and to support the many child nutrition programs across the state who are struggling financially with increased operating costs and decreasing revenues.

Concern was raised regarding the $20 million in new funding in this bill due to the mounting budget shortfall. The legislation will put in place a new stream of money going directly to support child nutrition programs in the schools. A question was raised about the inconsistency across the state in school lunch prices and local efforts (funding) to support the school lunch program. Another question was mentioned about a Physical Education requirement.

(b) Strong Endorsement of the Work of the Taskforce on Preventing Childhood Obesity.

The report from the Taskforce was made available to the Committee with a series of recommendations that may be introduced as bills by members once Session convenes. There is PE recommendation in the report that may be included in a bill.

2.     Dropout Prevention Adopted Recommendation

(a) The Committee recommends the General Assembly continue to support initiatives aimed at reducing the high school dropout rate and increasing the graduation rate. The Committee also recommends continued funding for the recommendations of the Joint Legislative Commission on Dropout Prevention and High School Graduation, and the high school reform efforts in place across the state.

No further discussion.

3.     The Collaborative Project-A 21st Century Initiative of the NC General Assembly Adopted Recommendation

(a) Recommendation for continued funding for the remainder of The Collaborative Project.

No further discussion.

4.     Teachers Adopted Recommendation and Bill

(a) ABC Bonuses – The Committee recommends the Appropriations Committee study and evaluate the current process for awarding ABC bonuses and reconsider the decision to “cap” the appropriation amount for ABC bonuses (2008).

Representative Blackwood asked if anything would be done this year to compensate teachers who did not receive the full amount of ABC Bonus in 2008. This issue will not be addressed only future compensation under the ABCs.  

(b) Retired Teachers Return to Work – The Committee supports legislation to extend the sunset of the legislation permitting retired teachers to return to work. The legislation is set to expire October 1, 2009 and this bill would extend that date two years (October 1, 2011). In addition, there is a six month break-in-service, for a teacher who retires and returns to work. This bill would to reduce the break-in-service from six to four months (teachers only).

This legislation prompted the most discussion. Members questioned whether any additional information had been received from the IRS on this issue and the response was negative. It was indicated, however that if the four months break-in-service did not meet IRS requirements, the bill contains a provision to repeal the law (Section 5). Senator Hartsell and Representative Glazier expressed concern with language referring to “contractor services” in the bill and offered to submit an amendment to remove words contractor services. Senator Dannelly then spoke in support of the shortened time frame. Since there seemed to be some disagreement regarding the language, it was suggested by the co-chairs that no vote be taken and that this item be removed from the recommendations and report. The Committee then moved on, but came back to this item. The members did not want to let it go without moving it forward. Senator Hartsell made a motion to remove the words “contractor services” and Representative Glazier seconded. After again reminding the members these were recommendations that still had to go through a lengthy process of discussion and possible change during the upcoming session, the recommendation was adopted.

5.     Assistant Principal Salaries-Adopted Recommendation

(a) The Committee supports a recommendation from a study committee, that National Board for Professional Teaching Standards teachers who move into the role of assistant principal shall receive the higher of their salary as a teacher or their salary as an assistant principal, provided they are working with teachers (instruction) as assistant principals. Several members raised questions about what this would mean for these individuals. It was determined they did not want to impact the budget, but did not want to financially penalize National Board teachers who want to become Assistant Principals.

6.     Tuition Forgiveness for Social Workers-Adopted Bill

(a) The Committee supports a bill to establish a scholarship-loan program for social workers to work in underserved areas. The legislation allows for 40 scholarships to be provided at four public universities offering a Masters in Social Work. These individuals would work in underserved areas of the State. They would have a two year requirement to have their loan cancelled. The State Education Assistance Authority would oversee awarding of the scholarships. The bill requests $260,000 each year for the next two years to oversee the scholarships and $440,000 for the loans. Senator Stevens moved to adopt the recommendation. No further discussion.

7.     Sales and Use Tax Refund-Adopted Bills

(a) The Committee recommends legislation that the current transfer of revenue from the state sales tax to the State Public School Fund be repealed and the refund of the state sales and use tax legislation that was eliminated several years ago for LEAs be reenacted.  In 2005, Public Schools lost their State Sales and Use Tax refund. The funds were collected from public schools and sent to the Dept. of Revenue and then DPI was allocated those funds thereby replacing the need for General Fund Revenue for public schools. The amount of this transfer is approximately $46 million.

(b) The Committee supports a bill to provide the Community Colleges with a state sales and use tax refund. In 2003, the Universities were given the sales tax refund, but the legislation did not include Community Colleges. The proposed legislation would refund approximately $4 to $5 million annually to the Community Colleges. These funds would help support their equipment needs.

8.     Exceptional Children-Adopted Bill

(a) The Committee recommends legislation to create and fund three additional personnel positions to support and expand the Positive Behavior Support Initiative at DPI.

The proposed legislation appropriates $285,000 for 2009-10 and $285,000 in 2010-2011 for three new personnel positions. No further discussion was held. Representative Glazier is also planning to introduce other legislation regarding exceptional children during the upcoming session, but these items were not discussed or included in the report by JLEOC.

 

Representative Tolson raised concerns about the lack of any Technology legislation or recommendation. Chairman Yongue indicated that there are several Technology funding streams currently in the budget and a recommendation was not needed at this time. The meeting was concluded when the full report of JLEOC was adopted, with a motion made by Senator Dannelly and seconded by Representative Tolson.

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