The 2016-2017 school year begins Monday for most public schools in the North Carolina – that includes 2,477 regular public schools, 167 charter schools and one regional school. While the number of students remains relatively flat this year, the amount of state money invested in public education continues to grow.
Todd Silberman, a spokesman for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, says the state expects about 1,542,527 students this year, including approximately 89,228 in charter schools, about the same as last school year.
While enrollment is flat, Silberman says the $8.7 billion state education budget increased $256 million, or about 3 percent, for the coming year, mainly to provide salary increases for teachers, principals and other personnel. He says the average teacher will see a salary increase of 4.7 percent.
Lawmakers also allocated more money – $24.8 million for the coming year as compared to $17.6 million in 2015 – for Opportunity Scholarships. Those scholarships are available for qualifying students from lower income backgrounds and provide up to $4,200 in tuition to selected private schools.
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Common Core, national educational standards designed to determine what a student should know at the end of each grade, was a big question mark last school year for North Carolina students. When the year began, the Academic Standards Review Commission was still at work, charged by legislators with making a recommendation on Common Core’s fate in the state. The commission finalized its study late last year and did not recommend substantive changes to Common Core standards.
The State Board of Education recently approved revised high school mathematics standards for Math 1, 2, and 3, the key high school level math courses all students must take.
The new standards change the sequence in which topics are taught, and only with the standards expected by the College Board, ACT and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
This fall, N.C. Department of Public Instruction staff and local teachers will review the K-8 math stands and fourth-level math courses including advanced functions and modeling, discrete mathematics and pre-calculus to see if any further changes are warranted.
The State Board of Education has also approved an extension and expansion of study of state testing that would include more interim assessments to help teachers adjust instruction during the school year followed by short end of grade tests.
Though not academic in nature, the State Board has made a policy revision effective this school year that will be of particular interest to middle-schoolers. The state says it’s now OK for sixth-graders to participate in all interscholastic sports except football. But whether that change takes place in districts across the state is left up to each individual school board to decide.
Melinda Johnston is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information or to keep up with the latest news at the state level visit www.dpi.state.nc.us.