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What the state budget does (and doesn’t do) for public education

Here’s a quick take on how North Carolina’s educational institutions fared in its overdue two-year budget unveiled last night. (Click here to read or peruse the 429-page budget.)

The Senate holds its first vote on the budget this afternoon, the House is expected to take it up on Thursday.

Reaction was mixed to the budget, when it came to education.

“The General Assembly’s budget doesn’t come close to meeting the needs of our students and public schools,” said Rodney Ellis, the head of the N.C. Association of Educators, in a statement. “North Carolina can’t afford to lose a generation of students by disregarding the resources they need to be successful.”

Education, K-12

  • Gives teachers (and all state employees, for that matter) a $750 bonus
  • Raises starting teacher pay to $35,000 a year
  • Increases textbook funding by $52.8 million over the next two years (but still below funding levels pre-Recession)
  • Gives drivers’ education programs across the state $24.1 million in non-recurring funds for the 2015-16 school year, switches cost of programs to civil funds and forfeitures after that.
  • Funds teacher assistant positions at 2014-15 levels ($138.1 million in each year), removes discretion that school districts had to use that money in other areas
  • Does not include funding for any teacher preparation program, similar to the Teaching Fellows position that was eliminated previously by the state legislature
  • Cuts funding for school transportation by 5 percent, or $25 million a year, in light of lower diesel fuel prices. That fund goes to pay for bus maintenance, fuel purchases and bus driver salaries.
  • Increases funding by $20.8 million over two years for low-income families to use private school vouchers, will now be $17.6 million available in 2015-16 and $24.8 million in 2016-17.
  • Includes a $2.5 million recurring cut for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, about 5.2 percent of their total budget. Cuts cannot be applied to the N.C. Center for Advancement of Teacher, the state’s two schools for the deaf and the Gov. Morehead School for the Blind. Also protected from cuts are the Communities of Schools in North Carolina, Teach for America and Beginnings for Parents of Children Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.
  • Limits waivers for complying with state regulations that local school boards can get from the State Board of Education.

Community College system

  • Carves out $30 million over the next two years to be used to increase compensation of employees at local community colleges.
  • Increases tuition by $4 a credit for community college classes, will now be $76 a credit hour for in-state residents and $268 for non-residents.

University of North Carolina system

  • Funds $49 million for year to account for enrollment growth in the UNC system
  • Hands $64.4 million in discretionary cuts to the UNC system over the next year. Includes language to look at cuts to programs with low-enrollments, centers and institutes and prevents any cuts from being handed out as across-the-board cuts
  • Caps public universities at using $1 million in state funds for fundraising and development (for the 2016-17 year).
  • Gives Elizabeth City State University $3 million in each year to stabilize enrollment.
  • East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine also gets $16 million over the two years to offset low revenues.
  • The Mountain Area Health Education Center (based out of Asheville) gets $16 million as well to provide surgery and family medicine residencies in Western North Carolina
  • Gives Western Governors University, a Utah-based online college, $2 million in the 2016-17 fiscal year to bring the competency-based school to North Carolina (provided a $5 million private match is met)
  • Eliminates $737,000 in recurring state funding for the Hunt Institute, a public education think-tank based out of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill named for former Dem. Gov. Jim Hunt.

 

What else did I miss? Let me know in comments below, or email [email protected]

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