2015-17 NC Biennial Budget
After enacting two continuing budget resolutions, House and Senate leaders reached a final budget agreement on September 18, shortly after midnight. Governor McCrory signed the budget bill (House 97) later the same day. The budget includes a total spending amount of $21.735 billion, which is a 3.1 percent increase over the previous budget.
Over all the budgets keeps recession-era levels of investment in education while our student population and costs are increasing. Further cuts to state revenue were also implemented this session.
Earning potential is low for teachers because their salaries are capped at about $50,000 (an increase of only $15,000 over their entire career). The national average ending salary, according to the National Council on Teacher Quality is around $76,000.
- Read our fact sheet, The Impact of the 2015-17 State Budget or our Quick Facts for additional information and links to other budget resources.
- Access a presentation from the General Assembly’s Fiscal Research Division to understand how public schools are funded.
- The NC DPI presented a list of the 2015 Relevant Laws Passed (Here).
- Historical per pupil funding: 2008-09 to 2015-16. (Here).
|Teacher Pay||25th in U.S.||42nd in U.S.|
|Teacher Career Status||Yes||No (except for those who have already earned it)|
|Salary Supplement for Master’s Degree||Yes||No|
|NC Teaching Fellows Program||Yes||No|
|Class Size Capped (grades 4-12)||Yes||No|
|Per Pupil Expenditure||$5,896||$5,744|
|Total Education Budget||$8.706 B||$8.878 B|
Budget Highlights 2015-16
The new biennial budget highlights are below (see budget bill here). It is also helpful to review the results of the 2013-15 budget below to better understand the national rankings assigned NC for teacher pay and per pupil funding.
- Increases school vouchers by $6.8 million in 2015-16 and $14 million in 2016-17, a total increase of 129% over 2014-15 funding level. Total dollars available for 2015-16 is $17.6 million and $24.8 million for 2016-17.
- New beginning teachers will be paid $35,000 (an increase from $33,000).
- All State employees/school personnel receive a one-time $750 bonus (includes central office staff). The salary steps (tiers) are the same as 2014-15 and will be funded for teachers and principals/assistant principals.
- There is no change to master’s and other advanced degree pay. If you had a master’s or other advanced degree or had completed one class prior to August 1, 2013, you are grandfathered under rules in place prior to that date. Master’s and other advanced degree pay will always be allowed if your job requires it.
- Teacher Assistants are funded at the 2014-15 levels, but funds must be used for teacher assistants only with all flexibility for the funds being eliminated effective this school year. Funds 15,300 TA positions, about 7,000 less than 2008.
- Teacher support will now be funded from general funds (not lottery funds) and non-instructional support personnel funded from lottery funds (no longer from general funds).
- Per pupil spending is about $500 less than pre-recession levels; NC ranks 46th in the nation
- Class size for first grade classes is reduced to 1:16 for 2016-17; an additional $27 million is allocated for additional teachers.
- Textbook and digital resources increased by $21.8 million for 2015-16 and by $31 million for next year (currently funded at ~$24 million).
- Funds driver’s education for 2015-2016 (general fund) and 2016-2017 (civil penalty and forfeiture fund). School districts can charge up to $65 per student to fund driver’s education. School districts must reduce fee for students who prove economic hardship.
- A decrease of 5,400 Pre-K slots since 2008; a waiting list remains.
2016 Pending Legislation
Read an overview of pending education bills for the 2016 legislative session.
2013-15 NC Biennial Budget
The passage of the 2013-15 state budget dealt a powerful and immediate blow to North Carolina’s public schools. It is helpful to see the funding levels and staff cuts made two years ago as you consider the new biennial budget’s allocations. Some increases this year are restoring monies lost two years ago and many funding cuts have been restored. Some of the key actions are below.
- Teacher career status was terminated by legislators but a June 2015 ruling from the NC Appeals Court said that ending teacher career status for educators who have already earned that status was unconstitutional. Career status protects teachers from being fired arbitrarily (without due process). Yet, teachers who have yet to earn career status are effectively temporary employees and are given only one-year contracts. Beginning in 2016, teachers without career status can be offered one, three or four-year contracts.
- Caps annual teacher salaries at $50,000. A certified teacher with a bachelor’s degree would earn $50,000 at 25 years of service. The U.S. average public school teacher salary is $58,000.
- Eliminated 5,184.5 teachers and 272 support personnel (guidance counselors, psychologists, social workers, etc.) in 2013-14.
- Cut teacher assistant positions: 3,850 positions in 2013-14 and an additional 3,300 in 2014-15.
- Major Public Education Item Comparisons of Budget (House, Senate, Final)
- Table of Contents for State Budget (HB97)
- Proposed Conference Committee Substitute for House Bill 97, 2015 Appropriations Act
- The Joint Conference Committee Report on the Base, Expansion and Capital Budgets, for House Bill 97
- General Assembly Fiscal Research Division Comparison Report: House and Senate proposed budgets
- Proposed Senate committee substitute for House Bill 97 (Senate budget bill)
- Senate Appropriations Committee on Education/Higher Education Report on the Continuation and Expansion Budgets (the “Money Report”)
- House Bill 97, 2015 Appropriations Act
- House Appropriations Committee on Education: Report on the Continuation and Expansion budgets (the “Money Report”)