Classroom Size Update- What the deal IS and IS NOT

Republican leaders at the NCGA announce class size solution.

Republican leaders at the NCGA announce class size solution.In a joint press conference Thursday afternoon, Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger, and House Speaker Tim Moore, along with leadership from Education Committees in both houses of the NC General Assembly (NCGA), unveiled HB90 with the support of the NC Association of School Administrators (NCASA), an organization representing superintendents and principals across the state. This legislation is in significant alignment with Arts North Carolina’s position on this issue, as well as the NC Arts Education Leadership Coalition’s (NC AELC) Position Statement, of which Arts NC is a signatory.

HB90 is an omnibus bill, which passed the Senate on Friday (37:5) and is expected to pass in the House this week, that addresses, among other things, class size requirements and the funding of “Program Enhancement Teachers (PET),” which include music, visual art, theatre, and dance instructors. While Arts NC does not view these subjects as enhancements, but instead as a vital component of the sound basic education that is the right of every NC child and integral to a Comprehensive Arts Education (CAE), we may use this term for clarity in our advocacy with the NCGA and others. The key EDUCATION components of HB90 are:

  • Provides a four-year phase-in to reach K-3 class size caps that otherwise were scheduled to take effect for the 2018-19 school year. This includes new K-3 class size requirements that do not change from current requirements for the 2018-2019 school year of the phase-in and are as follows:
    Year Grade(s) District Average Individual Maximum
    2018-2019 K-3 20 23
    2019-2020 K-3 19 22
    2020-2021 K-3 18 21
    2021-2022 K 18 21
      1 16 19
      2-3 17 20
  • Fully funds 3,503 K-5 PETs (including Visual, Music, Theatre, and Dance) through a new allotment established through a four-year phase-in, front-loaded the year before changes occur in K-3 class size requirements, as follows:
    • 2018-2019 – Provides $61.4 million in recurring funds to support 25% of full funding needed to provide one K-5 PET for every 191 students (1:191 ratio).
    • 2019-2020 – Increases this allotment’s funding to 50% of amount needed for 1:191 ratio.
    • 2020-2021 – Increases this allotment’s funding to 75% of amount needed for 1:191 ratio.
    • 2021-2022 – Increases this allotment’s funding to 100% of amount needed for 1:191 ratio
  • Places new restrictions on the Classroom Teacher allotment effective 2021-2022 to prevent these funds from covering K-5 PETs, which will be fully covered in the new allotment in that year (estimated over $245M annually by 2021-2022). K-5 PET allotment funds may be used for classroom teachers but not vice versa.
  • Allocated Classroom Teacher funds will continue to cover K-12 classroom teachers as well as Grades 6-12 PETs (including Visual, Music, Theatre, and Dance) as they are currently.
  • Exempts all “enhancement” classes in Grades K-12 from class size restrictions and caps, thereby eliminating the need for districts to seek waivers for these classes as required under current law.

What this bill DOES is secure funding for K-5 Arts Teachers. What it DOES NOT DO is secure funding for Grade 6-12 Arts Teachers, or specifically address the need for the facilities and classrooms needed to accommodate the changes to class size requirements. There will be much debate and public discussion in the coming weeks about all that is and is not included in HB90, including aspects that are not directly related to education. Arts NC is glad to see our position reflected in this bill and will continue to work for equitable access to Comprehensive Arts Education for ALL NC students.