Tag Archives: State lawmakers

Schools chief wants freedom from state rules to rival charters


Palm Beach County’s schools chief wants permission from state lawmakers to convert the county’s public school system into a “charter school district,” a designation that could let him end-run state rules and drastically reorganize schools’ schedules, class sizes and instruction time.

Superintendent Robert Avossa’s proposal would require approval from state lawmakers and the support of the county’s school board. If granted, he said the extra freedom would allow the county’s traditional public schools to better compete with charter schools, which have more flexibility under state law and are attracting thousands of new students each year.

The new superintendent was hired from the Fulton County School District in Georgia; Georgia has a law permitting “charter districts.” Superintendent Robert Avossa now wants to try it in Palm Beach County, where parents have been fighting for years to keep the hands of the charter industry out of their county. In his application for the job of Superintendent in PBC (which he assumed in June), he spoke of his passion for public education; there was no indication that he would immediately bring in the privateers, entrepreneurs, and fly-by-night operators whose charters overpopulate the lowest-performing schools in the state. As soon as he got the job, he switched.

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Nearly 1,000 CMS teachers resign as educators lobby lawmakers


RALEIGH, NC (WBTV) – Tuesday was North Carolina Association of Educators Day in Raleigh. Teachers came to the State House to tell politicians their concerns. Their main issue is teacher pay. Other concerns include 8,500 teacher assistants statewide could be on the chopping block and other reductions in the classrooms.More than 100 teachers showed up. The largest delegation was from Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The educators went one by one to the politicians’ office talking to them. Teachers think this personal approach works.”When people reach out and touch each other,” Charlotte Mecklenburg Association of Educators Vice President Erlene Lyde said. “It becomes more and affects us a little bit more.”

The educators questioned the Senate budget. It calls for cuts to the classroom.

“They must realize and recognize that this is not the end.” State Senator Joyce Waddell said.

Waddell says the budget is still being hammered out and knows it will tough, but believes her colleagues will work hard to come up with a solution.

Teachers tell WBTV their conversations with the politicians were fruitful. They are learning how to get things their way in Raleigh. One politician told the teachers to keep pressuring lawmakers and get the community involved. That will make a difference.

“People from the community,” CMS teacher Sylvester Maxey said. “To assist in voting the candidate in who will support education.”

Representative Charles Jeter knows pay is an issue. His idea is to have teacher pay tied into where a teacher lives. He knows there are certain places in North Carolina that are cheaper than others so the paycheck should reflect that.

“Lowes Corporation which is based in my neck of the woods,” Jeter said. “Right in the Mooresville area is not going to pay someone the same amount as someone who works in New York City as someone in Omaha, Nebraska.”

The politician says the State Constitution is preventing lawmakers to tweak the pay by district.

“That is big structural flaw,” Jeter said. “We got to fix unfortunately. It’s not an easy fix, but I am going to continue to pursue to get something done.”

While state lawmakers work on that, reaction is coming in concerning the number of teachers in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) who resigned. CMS says 957 teachers resigned – called it quits.

“That is horrible,” Lyde said. “That is unprecedented.”

CMS says that number doesn’t stand out and is no different than any other years. Others disagree.

“900 teachers resigning,” Lyde said. “In one system is unheard of in my 33 years of education. This is a crisis point and people need to wake up.”

Waddell is also concerned about that number.

“That’s a lot,” Waddell said. “We can’t afford to lose teachers to other states so we got to make sure we are taking care of our own.”

CMS also released other departure numbers. The number of non-instructional employees resigning in CMS is 631 and 139 of them are retiring. The number for licensed support is 88 people are resigning and 32 are retiring, administrative is 22 resigning and 16 retiring. Lyde is concerned with this number students will be the one suffering. It may take longer to find qualified teachers.

“Students won’t have teachers on their first day,” Lyde said. “They may not have teachers on the 60th day.”

CMS says it is using all methods to recruit teachers to the district while state lawmakers say they will do their part to fund education.




State lawmakers hope new law improves spending transparency score.


Some lawmakers hope legislation passed this year will move Maryland out of the middle of the pack when it comes to government spending transparency. The fifth annual report on government spending transparency released last week by Maryland PIRG Foundation gave the Old Line State a B-, up from a C last year. Maryland, the foundation’s report said, improved its score by providing more information on the benefits of tax credits, including the state’s film tax credit.

But unlike the leading states, Maryland doesn’t allow keyword searches of its checkbook-level data, the report said.
Del. Pam Beidle, D-Linthicum, was a sponsor of SENATE BILL 644’s companion bill in the House. The legislation was signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley on Tuesday.
The law, which takes effect June 1, will establish a 37-member Open Data Council to promote making all government data and documents available online in searchable, machine-readable formats.
Beidle said the state still hasn’t reached full transparency, but the new law will help.
“A B- isn’t awful, but of course we want to be an A,” she said. “We want people to see where we’re spending the money. People don’t want to feel like their tax dollars are being wasted. It’s a big job, though.”
While Maryland PIRG ranked Maryland as one of 20 “advancing states,” eight “leading states” did better in providing access to otherwise unscrutinized areas of spending, the nonprofit public interest research group said.
Six states provide public access to data on the subsidy recipients of each of the states’ most important economic development programs, Maryland PIRG said. The data list the public benefits that specific companies were expected to provide and show the benefits they actually delivered.
Maryland provides this data only for some of these programs, the foundation said. >>> Read more Capital Gazette ~~>Bill Text SENATE BILL 644  SB0644



Date Chamber
Apr 8, 2014 Executive Approved by the Governor – Chapter 69
Apr 3, 2014 Senate Returned Passed
Apr 2, 2014 House Third Reading Passed (132-0) – Related Vote
Apr 1, 2014 House Second Reading Passed
Apr 1, 2014 House Favorable Report Adopted
Mar 31, 2014 House Favorable Report by Health and Government Operations
Mar 19, 2014 House Hearing 3/26 at 1:00 p.m.
Mar 18, 2014 House First Reading Health and Government Operations
Mar 17, 2014 Senate Third Reading Passed (47-0) – Related Vote
Mar 14, 2014 Senate Second Reading Passed with Amendments
Mar 14, 2014 Senate Favorable with Amendments {554839/1 Report Adopted
Mar 14, 2014 Senate Favorable with Amendments Report by Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs
Feb 6, 2014 Senate Hearing 3/04 at 1:00 p.m.
Feb 5, 2014 Senate Reassigned to Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs
Jan 30, 2014 Senate First Reading Senate Rules