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After months of delays, Senate committee to hear class-size funding fix

A long-stalled proposal to assuage a looming class-size funding crisis in North Carolina public schools is finally slated for a hearing in the state Senate.

Late Sunday night, Senate leadership added House Bill 13 to the Senate Education Committee’s agenda Monday evening.

The bipartisan proposal is written to offer relief to districts across North Carolina who say they will have to find millions more in local dollars or fire scores of arts and physical education teachers to make room for new core subject educators.

The controversy comes after GOP lawmakers offered budget directives last year that would, beginning with the 2017-2018 academic year, require districts trim class sizes in grades K-3. Without additional state funding or greater local flexibility, districts said there would be painful repercussions for many school systems in order to enact the smaller class sizes.

Last week, Policy Watch reported on House Bill 13’s ongoing logjam, which prompted stern warnings from leaders in North Carolina’s largest school district—Wake County Public School System—that a lack of local flexibility over class sizes would reap “enormous disruptions” in the school system.

Those disruptions could include, in addition to many layoffs, packed classrooms of up to 40 students with two teachers and student reassignments. Many districts say they would also be facing a pressing need for more classroom space.

And, with many districts currently developing their budgets for the coming school year, K-12 leaders say state lawmakers must act quickly to offer clarity as soon as possible.

The proposal was originally assigned to a heavily backlogged Senate Rules & Operations Committee, but officials withdrew the bill and reassigned the legislation to the Senate Education Committee late Sunday.

Tonight’s committee meeting is currently set for 6 p.m. Check back with Policy Watch for updates on this major piece of legislation.

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