I, _________________________ the senator/representative from the ____________ senatorial/congressional district, hereby affirm my belief:
- That Article IV, Section 2 of the of the North Carolina constitution imposes upon the NCGA an obligation to provide a uniform system of free public schools that provides equal opportunities to all students;
- That instruction in the humanities (art, music, drama and dance), technology, world culture and language, and physical education (collectively, “Specials”)are necessary and crucial to provide a complete and well-rounded education for all students;
- That both art and P.E. are required subjects under the NC Basic education program.
- That such Specials are best taught by professionals with specific expertise and certification in those subjects (“Specialists”), as is required under North Carolina law; and
- That it is the responsibility of the NCGA to ensure that such Specials are made available to all students in North Carolina, and to provide funding adequate to ensure such availability, since the State is responsible for funding the operating expenses of schools.
I further acknowledge the following facts:
- School funding in North Carolina is accomplished using a system of allotments for the various needs of running NC’s schools.
- For at least the last generation, both classroom teachers and Specialists have been intended to be and are funded from a single allotment (the “Teacher Allotment.”)
- Traditionally, schools have used the time students spend with specialists to provide teachers with a planning period during the school day; which is required by state law.
- For this reason, the funding ratio (the number of teachers provided in the Teacher Allotment for each group of students) for each grade has always been lower than the expected class size for that grade.
- This gap between the two ratios has guaranteed that funding would be available for specialists; historically the allotment ratio has been 85% of the district average class size maximum.
- In 2016, the NGCA passed a law intended to lower class sizes in grades K-3 (the Class Size Law); it has subsequently been amended to delay implementation of those requirements until the 2018-2019 school year.
- The Class Size Law accomplished this by mandating that class sizes be identical to the funding ratio in each of those grades.
- Because the Class Size Law eliminates the gap between the funding ratio and the class size ratio, the effect is to require all funding in the teacher allotment be used on classroom teachers.
- As a result, the Class Size Law leaves no room in the funding allotment for Specials in 2018-2019 or subsequent years.
- To date, the NCGA has not created a new funding allotment for Specials.
- The NCGA’s budget, introduced and passed in June 2017, for the years including 2018-2019 does not include any funding for Specials, nor does it, as of June 24, 2017, include any language indicating any commitment or intention on the part of the NCGA to fund Specials.
- LEAs must make decisions about their curricula and hiring for each school year in the early spring of the preceding school year.
- The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) regularly publishes all the vital data to determine whether districts and schools are meeting the General Assembly’s class size requirements, as well as information showing whether school districts are using their classroom teacher money for other purposes.
- Information on how many specialists are employed by the state’s LEAs is also available from DPI.
Now therefore, having affirmed my support for Specials in public schools and acknowledged that the NCGA does not currently provide adequate funding for such Specials, I pledge:
- To work actively to ensure that the NCGA provides full funding for Specials for the 2018-2019 school year; which may be achieved through one of two options:
- Option 1: Provide a minimum of 4 Specialists to every elementary school in the state This option would cost approximately $369 million.
- Option 2: Maintain, at a minimum, the historical ratio of 1 Specialist for every 6 classroom teachers. This option would cost approximately $293 million.
- To vote against any draft or final budget that fails to provide full funding for Specials this year and in any subsequent budget year as long as I remain a member of the NCGA.
- To ensure that full funding for Specials be either allocated or guaranteed by law no later than March 1, 2018 for the 2018-2019 school year, and by March 1 of every subsequent year for the school year starting that year.
- If the NCGA fails to guarantee full funding for Specials by March 1 of any year the for school year beginning that year, to sponsor and/or support a bill that would release LEAs from the obligation to comply with the Class Size Law until such time as the NCGA provides or restores full funding for Specials.
- To provide my constituents with a monthly public, written report detailing the specific steps I have taken to fulfill this pledge. This report may be included in a more general newsletter, provided that it contains specific information as to steps taken. Those steps may include any or all of the following:
- notices of meetings held with fellow legislators to persuade them to support full funding for specials, and to the extent appropriate, information about the content and outcome of such meetings;
- Text of any bills sponsored or submitted to guarantee such funding, or of any amendments to bills sponsored or submitted by other legislators;
- Public statements or news releases in support of such funding;
- Transcripts of public debate either in Committee meetings or on the floor of the NCGA, in which I have stated support of such funding, or copies of any prewritten remarks make in either forum.