IMPROVING STUDENT ACCOUNTABILITY TOPS STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION BUDGET REQUEST
State Board of Education members re-affirmed their commitment to improving student learning and to the ABCs of Public Education accountability effort in their budget request to Governor James B. Hunt Jr. for the 2001-03 biennium. The Board's expansion budget request totals $474.6 million for 2001-02 and $470.6 million for 2002-03.
State Board Chairman Phillip J. Kirk Jr. said that the budget request is designed to reflect the most important needs of North Carolina's public schools and the education priorities of its citizens. "In our deliberations, we received input from teachers, school administrators, parents and others who have a strong interest in public schools, and many of their interests are incorporated in this request," Kirk said.
The funding requests are identified by the Board's five strategic priority areas: High Student Performance; Safe, Orderly and Caring Schools; Strong Family, Community and Business Support; Quality Teachers, Administrators and Staff; and Effective and Efficient Operations. Eleven expansion initiatives have been developed to help achieve these five priorities.
State Superintendent Mike Ward said that if these requests are funded, this will give North Carolina important resources to continue the momentum for school improvement. "North Carolina was identified as one of two pace-setter states in the public school standards and accountability movement at the 1999 National Education Summit, and our students have been making strong progress on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the SAT and on the state's own end-of-grade tests. We want to see this trend continue," Ward said.
The Board's 11 primary expansion initiatives, with the dollar totals, are attached to this release. In general, these initiatives would help in the following ways:
- Improving Student Accountability: Closing the Achievement Gap - to improve student performance for all students currently performing below grade level, reduce student/staff ratios, maintain assistance team funding, support pilot programs for foreign language immersion and provide technology facilitators for low-performing schools.
- Ready for Schools - to ensure that public schools are ready for all children to learn, including K-2 staff development, classroom upgrades and the continuation of kindergarten breakfast funds.
- School Technology - to provide a technology facilitator for all schools with an eighth grade (in alignment with the NC Computer Skills Test given at eighth grade).
- Special Populations - to improve the quality of education for children with special needs, including expanding services to students with limited English skills and gifted children. Also, to implement the Occupational Course of Study for high school students with severe disabilities.
- Academic Content Standards and Assessments - to ensure the timely revision of curriculum content standards and corresponding assessments, and to provide distribution of materials and training to local school districts. These funds also would provide funding to assist Advanced Placement students with the AP test fees.
- At Risk Student Services/Alternative Schools - to expand alternative school programs, increase school resource officers and other support personnel, especially at the middle school level.
- Community Support for Students - to coordinate efforts of the schools, parents and the communities to increase involvement to improve student achievement through training, model programs and better communication.
- Professional Development - to ensure quality teachers and administrators in all schools.
- Teacher Retention and Recruitment - to develop and implement initiatives for the retention and recruitment of quality teachers for our schools.
- Teacher Evaluation Instruments - to develop instruments for evaluating teachers and other professional school employees, as required by the Excellent Schools Act.
- Teacher Scholarships - to encourage teacher education majors to pursue teaching in critical needs areas (by subject, location or low-performance status) through additional funds for Prospective Teacher Scholarship loans or Tuition-to-Teach loans and other incentives.
addition to these 11 initiatives, the Board encourages the General Assembly to:
- fully fund the legislated formula for Low Wealth Supplemental Funding
- increase instructional support positions, such as nurses, guidance counselors and social workers;
- and increase the base funding for instructional supplies and materials.
The General Assembly convenes for its long session Jan. 24, 2001, when it will consider expansion requests for the 2001-03 biennium. For more details about education initiatives underway in North Carolina, please visit www.ncpublicschools.org.
About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.
For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.