The major news event of the week was Governor Perdue’s budget recommendations for the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, as highlighted in an earlier memo this week.
On Wednesday, the Joint Appropriations Education Committee met to discuss the Governor’s Education Budget recommendations for public schools, universities and community colleges. Staff responded to questions and provided additional information on several issues.
The Education Appropriations Committee met again on Thursday to discuss the Military Business Center and the Principals’ Executive Program. The PEP program was last to present and only had fifteen minutes, due to another committee meeting. PEP had been asked a series of questions to respond to at the meeting. Governor Perdue has not funded the program for 2009-2010, but has put $200,000 in the budget for DPI to develop a Leadership Academy for Superintendents and Principals. It was apparent many of the members are very interested in continuing the PEP program recognizing its value to principal development, but they would need to fund the UNC system $1.2 million this year to sustain the program. PEP mentioned the success rate of schools in the 31 school group (DPI identified lowest performing schools) receiving leadership facilitation. Students had improved 8.7 percent on average compared to the state average of 6.9 percent. They talked about their selection process noting 46 percent principals were from High-Need districts. President Bowles has given the program a high priority in his budget request, but the Governor only funded enrollment and need-based-financial aid for the UNC institutions. PEP also talked about their efforts to develop a network of partnerships with university programs, PEP, and public schools to provide increased assistance and coordination of program efforts.
The State Health Plan, Senate Bill 287, has been stymied in the Senate. The Senate has tried for four days this week (after moving the bill out of committee the week before) to come to an agreement, with opposing groups (mainly the pharmacists lobby). On Thursday, Senator Rand still had not resolved the problems with the bill and it was again delayed. The Senate needs to pass the bill then send it to the House for their changes, conference the bill out, final passage by both bodies, then to the Governor to be signed, by April 1. Time is running short. The bill includes an appropriation of $250 million from the “Rainy Day Fund” to continue to pay the Health Plan bills since the Health Plan will be out of funds by March 31, 2009. They also need to pass the plan changes by April 1 to have them go into effect by July 1, 2009 in order to save 15 percent. Things are not looking too good.
The Federal Stimulus package still has not been clarified. The Office of State Budget and Management has said the Governor has taken the $580 million in Education Stimulus funds for 2009-2010 and placed them in the General Fund budget to fund the education entities. These funds will be available again in 2010-2011. However, the big issues is where will the State get the funds to put the money back in the public school’s budget in 2011-2012 once the federal stimulus monies are gone. Speaker Hackney traveled to Washington this week to get briefed on the Federal Stimulus funding.
In other news this week the Education Cabinet met, on Monday for the first time since Governor Perdue took office and at the Governor’s request, to discuss the release of her budget. The Education Cabinet was not a viable group during the Easley Administration, but Governor Perdue has promised to rejuvenate the cabinet and is working with Senator Lee to manage their work. She wants the cabinet to take a stronger role in the overall education efforts in NC with all the various education groups.
The House and the Senate Appropriations chairs have met several times this week to discuss the Governor’s budget and it has not been going well so far. They will continue to meet together next week on Tuesday. They have some serious concerns about her budget proposals, including the loss of longevity for all state employees, expansion programs funding, step increase for teachers and principals in public schools, and the use of the federal stimulus funds. NCSBA and NCASA have sent information to all members of the House and Senate opposing the $144 million Flexibility Cut to public schools. They are requesting the General Assembly identify the line item cuts to be made to programs. Representative Skip Stam has introduced legislation to increase class size limits to try and save some funding for the public schools in other ways. The Senate is still planning to have their budget completed by April 9 and the House sometime in May. Right now the Appropriations Chairs are meeting jointly to hear information, from fiscal staff, that they need to work on the budget. I guess we will wait and watch.
HB 609 Limit State-Mandated Tests in Schools/2 Years
HB 636 Staff Development OK on Protected Teacher Workdays
HB 642 Retirement Technical Corrections
HB 644 Misdemeanor/Not Produce Public Records
HB 648 Reduce Service Break/Returning Teachers
HB 651 Restore Continuation Funding for Principal’s Executive Program
HB 655 Funds for Teachers’ Institute Program
HB 659 Study Existing Children/Youth Programs
HB 661 City Manager on School Boards
HB 682 Adjust Conflict Threshold
HB 687 Tax Credit for Children with Disabilities
HB 691 State Contracts/Slavery Profits
HB 707 Legislative Study of ABC Bonus Program
HB 708 Furlough of State Employees
HB 711 State Tax Fairness Act
HB 717 Study of High School Programs at Community Colleges
HB 734 Open Government/ NonDisclosure Penalties
HB 735 Building Code/High Schoolers at Community Colleges
SB 616 Model Program/Children with Disabilities
SB 644 Study of High School Programs at Community Colleges
SB 645 Retirement Technical Corrections
SB 657 SBE to Develop Teacher Assistant Salary Schedule
SB 684 Retain Pregnant and Parenting Students/Funds
SB 689 Modify DPI/SBE Reporting Requirements
SB 705 Appropriations Act 2009
SB 708 Amend the Compulsory School Attendance Law
SB 712 State Surplus Property/New Recipient
SB 722 No High School Graduation Project Required
SB 732 Establish Study Committee/Early Childhood Programs
SB 733 SBE Adopt Curriculum for “Life 101”
SB 737 Parent & Student Educational Involvement Act
HB 42 Science Safety in Public Schools Favorable Report to Committee Substitute and re- referred to Appropriations. Adds requirement for middle school science laboratories to be certified according to statute, deletes clause requiring an administrative person to be designated as science safety officer and statute that prohibits beginning construction of (was, investing any money in) any new middle or high school buildings until plans for the science area have been reviewed and approved (was, certified) to meet safety standards.
HB 188 Study Raising the Compulsory Attendance Age Favorable Report to Committee Substitute and re-referred to Rules. Changes the date the report is due to JLEOC from April 15, 2009 to December 31, 2009.
HB 209 Sex Offender Registry/Liberties w/Students Not Heard
HB 187 Encourage Policies to Facilitate Graduation Favorable Report to Proposed Committee Substitute as amended by Rep. Weiss and sent to the House floor.
Local Government II:
HB 352 Lottery School Capital Fund Formula Pulled from the agenda.
Pensions and Retirement:
HB 429 Retirement System COLAS Favorable Report to Committee Substitute and re-referred to Appropriations.
SB 297 No Sunset/Teacher Personal Leave Protection Favorable Report and referred to Appropriations.
SB 306 New Assistant Principals/No Pay Decrease Favorable Report to Committee Substitute and re-referred to Appropriations. The act applies to all persons employed as assistant principals by an LEA on or after the July 1, 2009 effective date.
Bills in Committee next week:
HB 18 Speech Language Pathologist Qualifications
HB 209 Sex Offenders Registry/Liberties with Students
HB 223 No High School Graduation Project Required
SB 16 DPI/Curriculum on 1898 Wilmington Race Riot
SB 66 Require Arts Education Credit for Graduation
SB 265 Fund Only One School System Per County