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This month, taxpayers receiving their paychecks are seeing changes in their take-home pay.  Some will see more, some less since the tax plan passed last year delivers income tax cuts depending on individual taxpayer circumstances.

The benefits from the new tax law will accrue primarily to the wealthiest taxpayers and profitable corporations. In total, the tax plan passed last year reduces revenue by nearly $525 million over the next two years. The foregone investments for our communities that will result from these tax cuts will impact us all.

Consider what could have been done to improve the classroom experience of our students in K-12 public schools if policymakers hadn’t chosen to cut taxes for the wealthy and profitable corporations. These dollars could have been used to provide a package of investments in public education such as:

  • Keeping 1 in 5 teacher assistant jobs in FY15
  • Doubling current funding for textbooks in FY15 Read More

In a matter of days, the number of local school boards that has signed on to be plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the new school voucher legislation has jumped from 16 to 40.

Filed by the North Carolina School Boards Association (NCSBA), the lawsuit calls into question the constitutionality of providing families with $4,200 annual taxpayer-funded scholarships to use at private schools.

The 40 school boards (out of a total of 115 in the state) that have voted to challenge school vouchers are as follows:

Alamance County
Asheboro City
Catawba County
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City
Chatham County
Cleveland County
Columbus County
Craven County
Currituck County
Davidson County
Durham County
Edenton-Chowan
Gates County
Graham County
Halifax County
Harnett County
Hyde County
Lee County
Lenoir County
Lexington City
Macon County
Martin County
Mount Airy City
Newton-Conover
Onslow County
Orange County
Pamlico County
Person County
Pitt County
Polk County
Rockingham County
Rutherford County
Scotland County
Stanly County
Surry County
Vance County
Warren County
Washington County
Whiteville City
Yancey County

Members of the public wishing to submit questions or concerns about the new teacher contract system have until tomorrow to do so — online or in person.

The State Board of Education will hold a public hearing tomorrow, Wednesday, January 15 on the model teacher contract developed for use by local school boards in awarding teacher contracts. The hearing will take place from 1:00p.m. – 3:00p.m. in the 7th floor board room at the Department of Public Instruction.

Those who cannot make it (because, of course, most teachers will be teaching at that time) can still submit comments online to Lou Martin, State Board of Education, at lou.martin@dpi.nc.gov or by fax: 919-807-3198.

During last year’s legislative session, lawmakers voted to end teacher tenure by 2018. In the interim, the top 25 percent of teachers currently tenured are encouraged to give up their “career status” in exchange for 4-year contracts that come with $500 pay bumps for each of the four years.

Local school districts are having a hard time coming up with ways to determine which teachers fall within the top 25 percent and have received little guidance from lawmakers or DPI. Only the first year of the 4-year contracts is a sure bet in terms of additional funding from the state for the $500 bonuses. And teachers are reluctant to give up hard-earned tenure, which does not guarantee a life-long job–only due process in the event they are dismissed or demoted.

Read more about the teacher contracts here.

Members of the Charter School Advisory Board are meeting today to review charter school applications for 2015. Nine of the 71 applications that were submitted last December have been deemed incomplete by the board and will not move forward.

The nine charter school applications that won’t move forward are as follows:

Empowerment Academy Charter School (Vance County)
J.E. Graham Leadership Academy (Hoke County)
Kaleidoscope Art and Technology High School (Wake County)
T.E.A.M. D&K Academy (Mecklenburg County)
Russell Lee Jones Charter High School (Mecklenburg County)
Antonio Academy (Durham County)
James Madison Academy (Wake County)
Pinnacle of Durham Charter School (Durham County)
Ridgeview Charter School (Gaston County)

Francis Deluca, president of the Civitas Institute, would have been on the board of the proposed James Madison Academy, which did not make it past today’s review.

Final approval for charter schools wishing to open in 2015 will come no later than January 15, 2015.

Last week, the State Board of Education approved 26 charter schools to open this fall.

Lenoir County has joined a growing number of school districts that have signed on to be plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by the North Carolina School Boards Association (NCSBA) challenging the recently-enacted school voucher law.

Last week, Lenoir’s school board voted unanimously to join the suit, which calls into question the constitutionality of providing families with $4,200 annual taxpayer-funded scholarships to use at private schools.

As of today, 16 school districts have signed on to be plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

  1. Asheboro City
  2. Catawba County
  3. Chapel Hill-Carrboro City
  4. Durham County
  5. Edenton-Chowan
  6. Hyde County
  7. Lenoir County
  8. Macon County
  9. Mount Airy City
  10. Onslow County
  11. Person County
  12. Pitt County
  13. Rutherford County
  14. Stanly County
  15. Surry County
  16. Yancey County

More districts are expected to follow–Vance County will vote this evening on whether to join the lawsuit.

*This post was updated to include seven more school districts that have signed on to be plaintiffs in the voucher lawsuit, per NCSBA.