Berger: Charter School Cap Legislation Imminent

Under the Dome spoke with the soon to be President Pro-Tem of the Senate, Phil Berger yesterday.  Until recently, Senator Berger had been noticeably quiet concerning the policy initiatives of his newly Republican Senate.  Yesterday, in what appeared to be a very straightforward conversation with a few select members of the press, Berger offered a glimpse of what we might expect during the upcoming legislative session….

A Snippet from the article:

“A charter school bill eliminating the 100-school cap will likely be debated in the first weeks. The bill may include recommendations to have agency other than the State Board of Education oversee charters,…. There’s the perception that DPI (the state Department of Public Instruction) has not been particularly receptive to the idea of charters, Berger said.”

Click the link below to Read the full Article:





Will They Scrimp On Schools?

New and Observer Article


As a colleague of mine remarked, Republicans’ motto as they saddle up to take control of North Carolina’s General Assembly could be, “Do less with less.”

We’re about to get an earful of that old conservative anthem celebrating the virtues of limited government and low taxes. And on principle, who’s to disagree? Nobody wants more government than we need, and nobody wants to pay taxes swollen because of bureaucratic inefficiency or bloat.

But that doesn’t mean the philosophical divide between conservatives and liberals (which more or less correlates with the partisan divide between Republicans and Democrats) over the core issue of government’s proper size and mission is a trivial one. It’s all about parsing needs and wants, and then figuring out who should pay how much.

Those in line to pay the most often argue that the state can get by with doing less. Yet when the budget knife starts cutting, who gets hurt? If it’s the young and the vulnerable, the cutters have been too clumsy.

The two sides’ beliefs as to how the public is best served are about to be vigorously tested – perhaps no more so than in the arena of education.

Together, the state’s educational enterprises – public schools, community colleges, universities – swallow the largest share of money routed each year into the General Fund. For example, the budget for July 2009 through June 2010 set aside $7.4 billion for the schools, $1 billion for the community colleges and $2.7 billion for the UNC system. The total budget (this was current operations, not capital): $19 billion.

That budget was prepared under severe duress as state revenues plunged amid the recession. The situation was even worse this year. Helped by federal stimulus funds, legislators and Gov. Beverly Perdue were able to stave off serious cuts in public school expenditures.

For the next budget cycle, however, the immovable object of education costs is about to meet the irresistible force of a monster shortfall that looks to be in the range of $3.5 billion. And then there’s irresistible force No. 2: Republicans’ determination to put the budget in balance, as the state is obligated to do, via spending cuts alone. They’ve as much as said no new taxes except over their dead bodies.

Of course nobody should be eager to raise taxes while jobs are scarce, families are struggling to keep their homes and companies are caught in the recession’s downdraft. But especially when it comes to the state’s investment in our schools, the picture without some kind of revenue infusion can’t help but look grim. So much money will be needed to close the shortfall that it will be hard to avoid whacking into the budget’s largest line item.

The bitter irony is that, as the Public School Forum of North Carolina points out, this has never been a state that shot the moon with its public school outlays.

Now, says the Forum, which has kept a sharp eye on the state’s education scene since the mid-1980s, the budget squeeze could push North Carolina close to the bottom in a ranking of per-pupil expenditures.

How could that happen? The Forum says North Carolina during the last fiscal year ranked 42nd in state and local outlays for school operations – $8,743 per student. The U.S. average was $10,190.

Nobody would suggest that every state toward the top of the list is getting good value in spending more than we do. But what if North Carolina did find itself trailing the pack? That not only would signal real deficiencies in school quality, but also would amount to a failure of our responsibility to the state’s youth. It’s not the sort of thing businesses or families deciding where to locate like to see.

The legislature’s new Republican bosses will be perfectly entitled to look for ways to make state government more cost-effective. They should. And their aversion to taxes should mean a disciplined approach to spending. But just because the Democrats have taken a broader view of the government’s responsibilities, that doesn’t mean they’ve necessarily been undisciplined.

This is the fork in the philosophical road. The belief that investments in public education should be generous – they are, after all, investments with a proven record of success – does not translate into a belief in waste, feather-bedding and inane curriculums.

School systems should be well-enough funded so that every student has a capable teacher in an uncrowded classroom. Right-sizing should not always mean down-sizing and operating on the cheap. And the same applies to other state services such as higher education, mental health, environmental protection and the courts.

Let’s hope that an improving economy takes some of the pressure off the state’s budget-balancers. And if the Republicans can look beyond the self-serving calls for spending and tax cuts echoing from the special interests who propelled their campaigns, perhaps they will be able to reconcile their sincere beliefs in limited government with a budget strategy that can at least come close to meeting the state’s critical needs.

For the article:


This’ll just take a second….

This is a bit off the beaten path, but I am hoping you won’t mind my bringing a few noteworthy points to your attention before you delve into the 4 new posts below…

Firstly, if you have not yet noticed, the url of this site is slightly different.

Instead of the rather lengthy….

Our New Web Address is:

******So, make sure you BOOK MARK our new URL now******

But no need worry…. The old address will still work just fine.  No one’s

Moved Your Cheese...”

More importantly, as we approach the new – and what will certainly be an extremely long – Long Legislative Session, our goal – the purpose of – has not changed .  We hope to provide a timely, accurate, no frills/no spin connection to whats going on in the world of North Carolina Education Policy.

But there’s a critical component missing. Input, feedback, and direction from our readers.  Any alternative would incomplete, one-sided, and stagnant; and well, that’s not how we roll.

We’re gonna keep blogging.  The previews and the summaries will keep coming.  But before we really get rolling again…

We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Is this blog as useful to you as it could be?

What would you like to see more (or less) of?

Are there specific topics you would like to see highlighted?

Please, take a few minutes and give us a piece of your mind

We look forward to your comments and suggestions.

Thank you and KEEP READING.

Remember to Vote November 2nd,

Joel Maynard

Wake schools’ federal money limited – N&0

It fails to offsetall state cuts

BY GABE STAROSTA, Staff Writer, News and Observer

Federal stimulus money will help ease the financial pain in Wake County schools this year and next but only partly makes up for state budget cuts in education, county officials said Wednesday.

It’s also a temporary solution with the customary federal strings attached. Wake schools will get $46.4 million in stimulus money, with roughly half for the current fiscal year and the rest next year. The federal lifeline runs out after that.

With the recently passed state budget slicing $35.1 million from Wake schools, the stimulus money is welcome. But those funds are earmarked for special education programs and high-poverty schools and can’t be spent elsewhere, said Donna Hargens, the school district’s chief academic officer.

The school district let go 1,496 employees whose contracts expired June 30. It has since rehired 911 of them, but only about 10 percent were rehired using stimulus dollars, Hargens said.

“We have less money, less recurring revenue, and I don’t think the recovery is going to be as quick as the decline,” Wake schools Superintendent Del Burns said at a joint meeting of the school board and Board of Commissioners. “We’re trying to be proactive about that.”

Because of the strict guidelines that go with federal money, the school district has also been put in the awkward position: cutting a significant number of teachers and staff while simultaneously creating 99 new positions.

The new positions include 53 teaching jobs and 45 math coach positions at Title I schools — those with high levels of free or reduced-price lunch students — plus a single administrative position to manage the math coach staff.

At the same time, more than 550 teachers and staff, out of nearly 1,500 let go, have not been rehired or guaranteed future positions. Hargens said the new positions were not reserved for those let go when their contracts expired, though those former Wake employees could apply for the jobs created or saved by federal money.

“Those 99 positions were created and posted [for consideration] and people were hired, so it may be that some of the people [who were let go June 30] were rehired,” Hargens said.

The rest of the federal money spent so far was used to maintain 100 positions in special needs education — 92 teachers and eight teachers’ assistants.

Wake County received a total of $46.4 million in stimulus funds for education, part of a larger stimulus grant that was distributed by the national Department of Education. Wake’s share is divided into roughly $30 million set aside for special needs education and $16 million designated for 45 Title I schools.

But David Neter, the Wake school district’s chief business officer, warned that the state needs to find additional sources of revenue so the school system is not left with a massive hole in its budget when federal stimulus money runs out.

“The problem with [federal funding] is that it falls off a cliff in two years,” he said.

Despite the money flowing in from Washington, Burns reiterated that students will be feeling the economic pinch through larger class sizes in grades four through 12, fewer offerings of elective courses and a reduction in services such as transportation.

“This is the first year I’ve experienced where there has been a significant impact at the school level,” he said.


RALEIGH, N.C. — A Superior Court judge ruled Friday that Gov. Beverly Perdue cannot appoint a separate CEO for the public schools aside from the elected state superintendent of education.

Judge Robert Hobgood ruled that the General Assembly and the State Board of Education cannot deprive Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson of the power to oversee public education in North Carolina without a constitutional amendment……..


Whose schools work better?

Wake disperses low-income students with busing; Charlotte gives high poverty schools extra money:   


Click Here for Link

written by T. Keung Hui, Staff Writer for the News and Observer

North Carolina‘s two largest school systems have taken vastly different approaches to two thorny issues — student reassignment and educating low-income students with hefty academic deficiencies.

Wake County, the state’s largest district, has used buses instead of greenbacks to address the academic needs of low-income students.

To meet the demands of growth and support a diversity policy aimed at reducing the number of high-poverty schools, Wake’s system moves thousands of students each year to different schools, sometimes sending kids on bus rides of more than 20 miles.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, the second-largest district in North Carolina, has shifted to a system of largely neighborhood schools, resulting in a stratified mix of affluent schools in the suburbs and high-poverty schools near downtown Charlotte.

Instead of busing kids to balance out the level of low-income students at each school, the district pours millions of dollars into these high-poverty schools each year to boost the performance of academically disadvantaged students.

More after the jump….


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