Under the Dome

School funding up 3.3 percent in NC House budget plan

Cosmetology instructor Leah Lockamy helps Kyra Holley, 16, with rollers in the cosmetology lab at the Vernon Malone College and Career Academy – one of eight Cooperative and Innovative High Schools that would receive funding under the N.C. House budget proposal.
Cosmetology instructor Leah Lockamy helps Kyra Holley, 16, with rollers in the cosmetology lab at the Vernon Malone College and Career Academy – one of eight Cooperative and Innovative High Schools that would receive funding under the N.C. House budget proposal. cliddy@newsobserver.com

The initial N.C. House education budget proposal would increase K-12 school spending by $269 million – or about 3.3 percent – adding new funds for charter schools and teacher bonuses.

A big chunk of the increase is $100.2 million to handle school enrollment growth, which is expected to add 17,000 more students in the next school year.

Thursday’s rollout of the spending bill doesn’t yet show any salary increases for teachers or other school personnel. Budget writers said those details won’t be released until the full budget draft is completed late Sunday or early Monday. House leaders have said they plan to raise starting teacher salaries to $35,000, a priority shared by Senate leaders and Gov. Pat McCrory.

Other highlights of the K-12 budget include:

Teacher assistants: The proposal includes $88.9 million next fiscal year to fund teacher assistants at the current level – offsetting a drop in lottery funds that have been used to avoid cuts in years past.

“Advanced” teachers: The budget would direct $5 million to begin a pilot program called “Elevating Educators,” which would provide salary supplements for “advanced teaching roles” in which veteran educators earn extra pay for training and curriculum development roles.

Teacher bonuses: For those who teach Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or career and technical education courses, $4.5 million would be set aside for bonuses of up to $50 per student who scores highly on end-of-course or industry certification exams.

Charter schools: Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, a charter school advocacy group, would get $1 million to launch a pilot program aimed at fostering more charters in rural areas. The group would give out $200,000 grants to new schools.

Textbooks and technology: The budget would add $50 million to buy textbooks – for a total of $74.3 million for books – and $21 million for establishing broadband access in public schools and supporting the state’s Digital Learning Plan.

New schools: About $2.3 million would go to eight new Cooperative and Innovative High Schools approved by the state last year – including Wake Tech’s new Vernon Malone College and Career Academy.

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