Monday, July 29, 2013

Public School Reforms Include Higher Spending on K-12

Carolina Journal Online

Ending teacher tenure, expanding charters, increasing accountability among changes

By Dan Way
Jul. 29th, 2013
RALEIGH — Although authorized spending on K-12 public education in the newly enacted state budget will increase by nearly 5 percent over the previous school year, opponents of education reform have orchestrated rallies, flooded the media, and vilified the Republican-dominated General Assembly for its sweeping agenda.

Lawmakers adopted a 2013-14 budget conference report authorizing $7.9 billion in General Fund spending on K-12 education, which is up 4.8 percent over the $7.5 billion budget enacted for the 2012-13 fiscal year. 

"Since 2010, Republican legislators have made it clear that their policy agenda included a handful of core education reforms eventually incorporated into the budget,” said Terry Stoops, director of research and education studies at the John Locke Foundation. 

“These include the expansion of parental choice, elimination of teacher tenure and certain pay supplements, implementation of a school grading system, and development of a performance pay system for school personnel,” Stoops said. “Simply put, this budget is the culmination of an education reform agenda that had been laid out for the last three years."

Acknowledging there are naysayers who claim that the reforms are an attempt to destroy public education, Stoops said: “The truth is that these reforms discard or dismantle policies approved decades ago at the behest of a handful of special interest groups. Legislators both modernized and diversified public education in North Carolina."

Now comes the hard part, he said. 

“Status-quo teachers and administrators, along with the advocacy groups that support them, will do everything in their power to undermine these new policies during their implementation. As such, Republican legislators must remain vigilant,” Stoops said. “Otherwise, these worthwhile reforms will flounder through no fault of their own."

Overall General Fund allocations to education increase the share of spending on education from 55 percent of the General Fund budget last year to 56 percent this year.

Preliminary estimates from the General Assembly’s Fiscal Research Division suggest education spending for the fiscal year that just ended will be about $7.7 billion — roughly $200 million more than budgeted — due to teacher retirement and health plans costs, among other expenses. That additional $200 million was taken from state reserves authorized for FY 2012-13. Such expenses have historically been excluded in budget authorizations for K-12 education at the beginning of a fiscal year because it is impossible to make an accurate projection of how much will be required for those purposes. Additional money is spent as needed. For that reason, it also is likely that actual K-12 spending during the 2013-14 fiscal year will be higher than the $7.9 billion budgeted, which is why fiscal analysts have traditionally measured annual changes in spending as authorized-to-authorized — or, after the fact, as actual-to-actual.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson, teachers, and public school advocates disparaged the budget.

No comments:

Post a Comment