Legislation that gives North Carolina school districts more time to reduce K-3 class size and provides more funds for them to hire the additional teachers they will need, passed the House Tuesday. It is now being considered by Gov. Roy Cooper.
Under the law, school districts will not have to implement the reductions next year but will have four years to phase them in. It also provides nearly $250 million to pay for the additional teachers the reduced class sizes will require, without eliminating arts, PE or music instructors.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg officials say they see the legislation as a positive step, but school board member Ruby Jones says it does not take into account the funding districts will need for new classrooms.
"Of course, it’s not enough," Jones said. "Something that was probably not thought through at all, having the physical space to add additional classes in already crowded schools, so I wish those things had been discussed and more input."
School board member Margaret Marshall says she was also disappointed that other unrelated provisions were tacked on to the class reduction legislation. The law would add a non-party affiliated member to the elections and ethics board, something Democrats oppose. It would also redirect the $58 million that utilities behind the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline would pay the state to school districts in the pipeline’s path. Gov. Roy Cooper had negotiated that funding for environmental mitigation and economic development. Republicans complained that it amounted to a slush fund.