The following information highlights the immediate legislative and policy needs for supporting public schools and their students in 2023 and beyond. The North Carolina Association of School Administrators (NCASA) asks the General Assembly, Governor, State Board of Education, and other policymakers to work with our organization’s 7,000 members on these initiatives critical for the success of our school leaders and the 1.4 million students they serve.
2023 Legislative & Policy Priorities
“Piecing Together Support For North Carolina’s Public Schools”
Recruiting & Retaining The Best Personnel
Provide compensation increases for ALL school employees, and specifically:
- Provide targeted increases for employees working in areas of critical shortage – including Bus Drivers, Bus Mechanics, Teacher Assistants, Special Education Teachers, STEM Teachers, and Mental Health Support Personnel – most of whom are currently able to earn more in the private sector or in a similar role in a different state agency.
- Reform the principal pay plan to reflect a career progression pathway; increase stability in base salary by reducing the portion dependent on school performance and adding school complexity and principal retention components; maintain the current bonus structure to reward exceptional performance; and include a hold-harmless provision to prevent cuts to any principal’s base pay.
- Reinstate advanced degree supplements for teachers and principals.
- Increase state support for the new job classifications developed by the State Board of Education to address the need for higher starting pay, as well as to reduce salary compression.
Expand options for rehiring retirees, particularly in high-need professions.
Enhance employee benefits, including reinstating the paid health insurance for retirees that was phased out for new employees as of 1/1/2021.
Expand qualified staff recruitment through the following educator pipeline initiatives:
- Expand the Teaching Fellows Program to better reflect its original structure.
- Enhance state support for Grow-Your-Own teacher initiatives.
- Fund the “Pathways To Excellence For Teaching Professionals” licensure and pay pilot program and include professional development for school administrators overseeing its implementation.
Accountability System Reform
Improve the state’s School Performance Grades system to include multiple components reflecting student success.
- Retain achievement measures (EOGs, EOCs, and other performance indicators for non-tested subjects).
- Increase value of “meeting or exceeding” student growth targets.
- Add or retain additional indicators based on school administrator feedback.
- Revise the definition of low-performing schools to exclude those that meet growth.
Adequate & Equitable Resources
- Expand support for key allotments focused directly on student learning: Classroom Teachers, Exceptional Children, English Language Learners, Teacher Assistants, and Instructional Support Personnel.
- Make strategic investments in public education to enhance learning opportunities and readiness for college and careers, as well as to ensure every student is provided the opportunity for a sound basic education.
- Provide additional state support for children with disabilities above the current 13% funding cap and revise the allotment to reflect the differentiated costs of supporting students with special needs, as recommended by the Department of Public Instruction.
- Expand state revenue streams to help all counties and school districts address the more than $13 billion in identified school facility needs through 2026.
- Expand waiver options for school districts struggling to meet K-3 class size mandates and eliminate the mandated district-wide average ratios in those grade levels.
- Continue state support for the Transportation Fuel Reserve to account for fluctuating fuel prices impacting school transportation services.
Student Health & Well-Being
- Expand state support for addressing student mental health needs through the following initiatives:
- Create a School Mental Health Support Personnel Allotment, like that created specifically for school psychologists, to improve staff-to-student ratios for counselors, nurses, and social workers, and to better reflect nationally recommended levels of mental health personnel.
- Allow LEAs that cannot find qualified school psychologists to utilize those state funds for other needed mental health personnel, especially for personnel who are clinically trained to provide therapeutic practices.
- Enhance school safety support on all K-12 campuses through the following initiatives:
- Make the School Safety Grant Program permanent with recurring state funding.
- Expand state funding to provide a school resource officer (SRO) at every school.
- Increase collaboration between special education administrators and the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) to streamline services and billing practices for Medicaid-eligible student programs.
Effective & Efficient Operations
- School Calendar – Allow LEAs to set “student-centered” calendars like charter, Restart, and Cooperative Innovative High Schools are now empowered to do.
- Cybersecurity – Expand and make permanent cybersecurity funding, training, and overall support for LEAs as digital threats continue to grow.
- NC Pre-K
- Provide additional funding to address ongoing Pre-K waitlists, expand program participation, and ensure early learning opportunities for diverse student populations.
- Count NC Pre-K students for ADM purposes in determining salary schedule placement for principals overseeing these programs.
- Exempt or waive LEA-based early childhood offerings from certain DHHS regulations for operations of NC Pre-K programs.