The state House two-year spending plan includes a controversial proposal to give teachers money each year to purchase classroom supplies.
The budget also provides $1 million for a Pre-K virtual school pilot program that has been roundly criticized by educators.
The House budget was released Friday, just days before thousands of teachers flood the streets of downtown Raleigh to march for increased funding for public schools and Medicaid expansion.
It includes changes to state law that would make it tougher for teachers to request a personal day. If approved, a teacher’s request for personal leave could not be approved on any regular school day “unless the availability of a substitute for that teacher is confirmed that day.”
Educators are alarmed by the proposal, which they see as an attempt to prevent future teacher protest marches in Raleigh.
“We are still assessing the entirety of what was released by the House Education Committee this morning,” said Mark Jewell, president of the N.C Association of Educators.” We are deeply concerned about the attempt to prevent local boards of education from altering their schedules to accommodate local needs. The intent is clearly to prevent educators from coming to Raleigh to make our voice heard, as we will be doing on May 1.”
Jewell added: “If lawmakers really want to stop educators from marching in Raleigh, they should work with us to address our legislative priorities in order to provide a high-quality, public education to all children in North Carolina.”
Republican lawmakers have been critical of the May 1 protest march because it will occur on a school day, forcing students to miss classes.
Click here to see what else is in the House spending plan.
And click here to see the special provisions in the House budget.
A state Senate proposal to give teachers $400 a year for school supplies was introduced by State Superintendent Mark Johnson and Sen. Andy Wells, (R- Catawba) earlier this month as Senate Bill 580.
It calls for taking about $37 million from the $47 million the state awards districts for school supplies and giving it to teachers who would buy their own supplies.
The House’s budget initially called for giving teachers $400 as well, and added $15 million to the state allotment for classroom supplies. An amendment was approved to give teachers $145 a year for supplies, which would leave districts with the greater share of the $62.5 million state allotment that would be earmarked for school supplies over the next two years.
Teachers have been critical of the Senate’s proposal because it provided no new money and would shortchange school districts.
Meanwhile, Johnson said the House’s spending plan is on the right track.
“This plan continues the legislature’s focus on K-12 education, with substantial funding increases for classroom supplies, textbooks and digital resources, and school-safety grants providing mental-health supports and school safety resources,” Johnson said.
Budget discussions will continue next week.