November 9, 2017 Legislative Update

Meeting of Joint Legislative Task Force on Education and Finance Reform (11/1/17)

During the first week of November, the Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform (2017) held its first meeting. This Task Force was formed to consider making changes to the current funding formula for K-12 public education. The Chairs of this committee are Representative Craig Horn and Senator Michael Lee. Both chairs seem to recognize that this will be a long process and plan to do their due diligence. They hope to look at how other states fund K-12 education and fully understand how the current system works before making significant recommendations. It is not anticipated that any recommendations will come in the foreseeable future. To view information from the committee as it is posted, click HERE.

Education Oversight Committee Meeting (11/7/17)

The joint legislative Education Oversight Committee held its first meeting of this interim session. The committee met to discuss concerns facing Virtual Charter Schools. Currently there are two Virtual Charter Schools operating in North Carolina (North Carolina Connections Academy and the North Carolina Virtual Academy). Both of these schools are in year three of a four-year pilot program. Representatives from the virtual charter schools presented the committee with arguments in support of being granted permanent status.

Miss Stephanie Clark of the Office of Charter Schools (a division of NCDPI) presented the committee with academic performance measurements for each of these schools. Both schools received performance grades of D and neither met growth.

The North Carolina Connections Academy presented its case to the committee, noting that they pulled their student body from learners previously enrolled in public schools. A strong percentage (21%) were formerly homeschooled. In addition, the North Carolina Connections Academy added that on their list of critical needs was school funding flexibility and the removal of the current pilot status. The North Carolina Virtual Academy provided a similar presentation, noting that the state's virtual charter schools are the only alternative to traditional public schools in 40 of North Carolina’s LEAs. The North Carolina Virtual Academy also addressed the future of their program citing that the pilot program would conclude in 2019. They reminded the committee that virtual charters are funded at a lower rate than traditional schools. The joint legislative Education Oversight Committee made no decisions and will meet again (date to be announced).

PENC Recent Red Alert concerning class size

Following up on Red Alert of last month, PENC lobbyists have been in communication with NCDPI as well as House and Senate leadership. Progress has been made toward making class size fairer to public schools. While nothing is in writing presently, our lobbyists have pushed House and Senate leadership to agree to form a task force to reconcile this issue. Our lobbyist Bryan Holloway will be part of this task force, in an advisory role, seeking resolution with NCDPI.

Building Relationships and Education Advocacy

As part of the ongoing effort to build and maintain working relationships with our legislative partners, we are meeting with individual lawmakers. Below are the members whom PENC’s Bryan Holloway has most recently met with to discuss NC K-12 educational priorities.

Bryan Holloway was recently warmly welcomed to Rep. Craig Horn's home. Rep. Horn is Chair of the House Education Appropriations Subcommittee, the Education Policy Committee and the Education Oversight Committee. He is also on the Joint Legislative Task Force on Education and Finance Reform.

Rep. Horn (R Union)

Also meeting with Holloway was Rep. Duane Hall. Rep. Hall is a member of the Education-Community Colleges Committee and a member of the Appropriations Committee. Rep. Hall and Holloway had a great conversation regarding public education, and they will continue to maintain open lines of communication.

Rep. Hall (D Wake)

Bryan Holloway also sat down with Rep. Grier Martin. Rep. Martin has worked diligently on education issues for over a decade in the North Carolina General Assembly. He has a strong military background and has helped countless families with military related issues. Rep. Martin is member of the Appropriations Committee and Homeland Security, Military, and the Veterans Affairs Committee.

Rep. Martin (D Wake)

Rep. Ed Hanes has been very interested in education issues since he arrived in the NC General Assembly six years ago. Rep. Hanes has always been available to meet to discuss public education. He is a member of the Ethics Committee, Finance Committee, and the Education-Universities Committee.

Rep. Hanes (D Forsyth)

Rep. Graig Meyer is an up and coming leader who is passionate about K-12 education issues. Rep. Meyer is a member of the Finance Committee and the K-12 Education Committee.

Rep. Meyer (D Orange)

Submitted by Bryan Holloway
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