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Class Size Challenges – Time to Focus on Facts

Senator Dan Bishop and I have spent a significant amount of time over the past few weeks and months trying to understand the details of class size requirements. The issue is not as simple as parents, and even some principals, are being told. It is complicated by a convoluted funding system that has existed for decades with multiple modifications over the years.

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My goal is to focus on facts so that administrators, teachers, parents, and elected officials can begin to have conversations about policies and priorities. The emails parents have been receiving from outside groups – and from your own PTAs and schools – have been misleading and don’t identify all of the challenges.

As we try to understand all of the details of the funding and recent legislation, as well as the associated impacts, there have been many people who have tried to politicize the issue. That has caused additional challenges to the process of trying to chart the best path forward.

I am committed to ensuring that every dollar allocated to our schools is spent wisely while also working towards maximizing the educational opportunities for every student, both in our districts and across the state.

Facts from our Research: HB-13 and Other Distracting Issues

The emails many parents received from outside groups have been very deceiving. While there are a variety of issues with the past legislation which are presenting challenges – these including funding, space constraints, and others – the information presented a significant misunderstanding of facts. Here are some facts:

- HB13 did not change any language in law regarding class size requirements. Language is exactly the same as 2013 language. The 16 – 18 class sizes are required averages across the entire district, not across an individual school. Maximum class size in the law is actually 3 more than the funded average teacher – student ratio:

K – 1:21

1st – 1:19

2nd, 3rd – 1:20

– HB-13 only added some reporting requirements for superintendents and delayed implementation of class size requirements (for 3rd time) until 2018-19 school year.

– HB-13 (the final version which became law) passed with wide bipartisan support (Passed Senate 48 – 1, Passed House 112 – 3) and was signed into Law by Governor Roy Cooper.

– You have also been told that class size reductions are an “unfunded mandate.” That is also not true, but the funding piece is complicated, and we will try to explain in a future email. Funding was added for class size reductions for all school districts for Grades K-3 for the 2014-2015 school year, and added again for Grade 1 for school year 2016-17. From what we can find, those reductions have not occurred despite the funding. However, to be fair, there is still many conflicting funding issues which exist, so we are not yet prepared to declare this issue settled.

Running Out of Time?

There was a sense of urgency place upon you through these emails because the General Assembly was in Special Session last week. The class size issue was never on the calendar to be addresses last week, although many conversations took place among Members.

We do understand that the clock is ticking because school boards must get their budgets to County Commissions by May so planning can begin for the 2018 – 19 school year. Rest assured that we are continuing to work on this issue and we are likely to be back in Raleigh – perhaps multiple times – before May.

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NATIONAL REVIEW: North Carolina’s Tax Cuts Are a Model for the Nation

The North Carolina General Assembly has orchestrated an unprecedented financial turnaround that has become a model for the United States. We have shown that reducing taxes which made us competitive with other states, reducing the burdens of regulations, and controlling spending, have led to budget surpluses, job announcements, and a bright future.

Capture - National Review - Tax CutsRep. Scott Stone serves as a member of the Finance Committee of the NC House and continues to ensure that North Carolina remains competitive and the state-of-choice for job creators.


North Carolina’s Tax Cuts Are a Model for the Nation

by Donald Bryson         December 14, 2017 4:00 AM

By cutting taxes and restraining spending, my state jumpstarted its economy. Others should follow suit. Recently, the Washington Post offered readers a “peek into a world after a massive tax cut” — a visit to Alamance County, in my home state of North Carolina, where reporter Todd C. Frankel rode along with factory owner Eric Henry. Henry, whose T-shirt-manufacturing company “almost went belly-up in the in the mid-1990s,” said he’s been doing well in recent years and his business is growing. This summer, he had his best production month ever and gave a bonus to his employees. But, he said, he didn’t know people who benefit from North Carolina’s tax cuts.

I’d say he should look in the mirror. The truth, somewhat obscured by the article’s anecdotes, is that millions of North Carolinians like Eric Henry and his workers have steady jobs and live in a more prosperous economy because of North Carolina’s tax cuts. Just five short years ago, our economy was floundering and unemployment hovered around 10 percent. Since then, we’ve added 245,000 people to our labor force and the unemployment rate has been slashed almost in half. That’s a whole lot of folks who are better off now than they were then. And there’s no doubt that their improved fortunes are attributable to our tax cuts.

READ FULL NATIONAL REVIEW ARTICLE: HERE 

 

Pineville Bridge Now The Richard Sheltra Bridge

Pineville Fire Department Engine 73  is named in honor of Richard Sheltra whose badge number was 73.

Pineville Fire Department Engine 73 is named in honor of Richard Sheltra whose badge number was 73.

It was a bitter-sweet day in Pineville as the friends, family and fellow firefighters gathered to honor fallen firefighter Richard Sheltra who died in 2016 while battling a fire. Tears and smiles were on the faces of Sheltra’s family as they stood looking at the sign commemorating his service and heroism.

Rep. Scott Stone joins Mike Sheltra, father of fallen Pineville fire fighter Richard Sheltra, for the official naming of the Richard Sheltra Bridge.

Rep. Scott Stone joins Mike Sheltra, father of fallen Pineville fire fighter Richard Sheltra, for the official naming of the Richard Sheltra Bridge.

“It was a privilege to help shepherd this application through the NCDOT approval process,” said Rep. Scott Stone. “This is not an honor the state of North Carolina takes lightly, but it is a fitting tribute to a man who died in service to his community.”

Richard Sheltra's father views the sign honoring his son.

Richard Sheltra’s father views the sign honoring his son.

The event was the culmination of activities over the past year which honored Richard Sheltra’s service. His name was recently added to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Maryland and the Pineville Fire Department has dedicated a fire truck in his honor. Engine 73, named for Shetra’s badge number, will permanently recognize the heroism of their fallen brother.

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Firefighter Richard Sheltra

Firefighter Richard Sheltra

Rep. Scott Stone to Seek Reelection in 2018

Stone Seeks Reelection

Rep. Scott Stone, who represents parts of south Charlotte and Pineville in Mecklenburg County, confirmed that he will seek reelection in 2018.

“During the past two years, I have been proud to work on behalf of the people of North Carolina to continue to move our state forward,” said Stone. “We still have important work to do to ensure that North Carolina is well positioned for economic opportunities during the next few years, while continuing to enhance the quality of life of all of our citizens.”

Stone serves on several key committees which are important to Mecklenburg County including: Transportation, Education K-12, Energy & Public Utilities, Finance, Banking, Environment, and Alcoholic Beverage Control. During the 2017 Session, he was the primary sponsor of a variety of primary pieces of legislation including some for which he served as the lead author. During the “Long Session” he cast 937 recorded votes which included everything from the budget, education reforms, transportation initiatives, and healthcare policy.

The legislative maps which will dictate the districts from which all members of the General Assembly will be elected are still being decided by the Courts. It is expected that final decisions on maps will come within the next few weeks as filing for the 2018 elections begin in February.

Forbes Ranks North Carolina #1 For Business

20150418_204634Forbes says North Carolina is the best state for business. The magazine in its annual ranking cited key areas of business costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, economic climate, growth prospects & quality of life for the reason for North Carolina is in the top spot. These elements are a direct result of the pro-growth reforms enacted by the Republican-led North Carolina General Assembly during the past several years. Read Article: HERE

0005_JTH_1217This is why more and more companies are choosing to move or expand in NC. Rep Stone has made this one of his top priorities in the NC House. His support for a business-friendly environment is demonstrated by the fact that he was ranked #14 out of 120 members of the NC House for pro-business initiatives with a 91.9% business-friendly voting record by the North Carolina Free Enterprise Foundation.

 

North Carolina Names Pineville Bridge After Fallen Fire Fighter

Firefighter Richard Sheltra

Firefighter Richard Sheltra

NORTH CAROLINA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Representative Scott Stone
District 105 – Mecklenburg

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 5, 2017

Raleigh, NC – Today the North Carolina Board of Transportation unanimously approved the naming of the bridge on South Polk Street in honor of fallen firefighter Richard Sheltra of Pineville. Rep. Scott Stone (R- Mecklenburg), who represents a portion of Pineville, and Pineville Mayor Jack Edwards submitted a request earlier this year to honor the fallen hero by naming the recently completed Pineville bridge after him. Sheltra was only 20 years old when he gave his life fighting a three-alarm fire caused by lightning last April.

“Richard Sheltra gave his life in service of his community,” said Rep. Scott Stone. “It is fitting that he be remembered for this sacrifice.”

Rep. Stone thanks members of the Department of Transportation, Governor Cooper’s staff, and all those who helped facilitate this memorial. The honor is timely because this weekend is the Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend, where Richard Sheltra will be on the 2017 Roll of Honor. Read his entry here.

“I’m grateful to all those who have supported this effort over the past year,” said Pineville Mayor Jack Edwards. “I am proud that Pineville will have a permanent memorial to Richard Sheltra.”

Tennessee Company to Relocated HQ to south Charlotte

Welcome NN, Inc to NC

Stone welcomes publicly-traded NN, Inc to Charlotte and District 105

Nasdaq-traded NN, Inc is relocating its corporate HQ to Waverly in the heart of south Charlotte. With its move to North Carolina, NN will create 200 jobs with an average salary of almost $140,000. This announcements is the first major employer to take space in the new “work-live-play” area of South Providence, which includes the new Rea Farms and Waverly developments between Ardrey Kell Road and I-485.

Rep. Stone is proud to represent District 105 in the NC House which has more publicly traded HQs than any other in NC. With the announcement of NN, the list keeps growing!

Read Business Journal Article HERE

NC House Passes $23 Billion Budget

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The North Carolina House of Representatives passed as $23 Billion budget which makes significant investments in Educations, Transportation, and boosts the Rainy Day Fund to $1.84 Billion.

The budget provides tax relief for middle class North Carolinians, and increase education funding and teacher pay, and boosts the state “Rainy Day Fund” by $263 million to over $1.84 billion. While adding to savings, the budget is a 4.3% increase over FY 2016 – 2017. Highlights:

- Increases education funding by $700 million and provides the 4th consecutive year of increasing teacher pay. The average teacher salary increase is close to 10% over 2 years.

– Veteran teachers with 15 – 24 years of experience are getting the biggest raises – some increases as large as $5,700 over 2 years – as budgets gets them to the higher pay “step” sooner.

– Adds over $1B over 2 years for state employees including teachers, principals, highway patrol, magistrates and court clerks.

– Provides tax relief for middle-class families by increasing the standard deduction to $20,000 starting 2019. This means that families making less than $20,000 will pay no state income tax. There will be and additional 95,000 low-income families who will now be exempt from paying state income tax.

- Reduces the corporate tax rate on job creators from 3% to 2.5% starting in 2019, which is the lowest of any state which has a corporate tax.

- Reduces income tax rate for all individual North Carolinians and most small business from 5.75% to 5.25%.

– Reduces waiting list for Pre-K slots by 75% by adding funding for 3,525 additional students over 2 years.

– Invests an additional $320 million for Strategic Transportation Investments. These are many of the typical road improvement projects constructed by NCDOT.

– Provides $115 million to state’s 10 commercial airports – including Charlotte Douglas International Airport – to fund strategic capital projects.

– Provides an additional $100 million in disaster relief for eastern North Carolina related to Hurricane Matthew.

Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the budget, and the General Assembly quickly overrode the veto.

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NC Permitting Efficiency Act Passes House

HB794 Graphic Passing HouseRep. Scott Stone authored a bill to reshape how construction permitting is approved across the state. HB794 passed the NC House with overwhelming bi-partisan support 96-15.

The North Carolina Permitting Efficiency Act would hold local municipalities accountable for review deadlines, keeping the reviews to only the established standards, and minimize time and cost uncertainties for those investing and creating jobs for our state. There is also a provision which would delegate authority for permitting from NCDOT to the larger municipalities in the state. This eliminates a redundancy in the process without sacrificing standards or quality of design and construction.

We now look to the Senate to pass this legislation so that North Carolina can create a reputation as a national leader in permitting efficiency.

State Closes Ballantyne Day Care; Legislator Wants Criminal Charges Against Management

State Closes Ballantyne Day Care; Legislator Wants Criminal Charges Against Management

CHARLOTTE OBSERVER – March 16, 2017

Capture - Primrose Schoolhttp://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article138866818.html

State officials suspended the license of a troubled Ballantyne day care center and a legislator called for criminal charges Thursday after a former teacher was accused of inappropriate contact with children. State Rep. Scott Stone, whose district includes the center, formally requested that District Attorney Andrew Murray seek criminal charges against Primrose School of Ballantyne’s management.

“This is just the latest in a series of violations for Primrose School of Ballantyne,” Stone said. “The management has shown considerable disregard for our most defenseless and innocent population and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law for their actions.”

0012_JTH_1365Stone requested the DA’s office prosecute four people at the school on child endangerment charges because they allowed former teacher Joseph Starnes to return as a care giver the day after management was informed of his actions.
The N.C. Division of Child Development and Early Education issued the summary suspension action Thursday against Primrose School of Ballantyne. The action requires the school, licensed to serve up to 186 children up to age 12, to close its doors at the end of the business day Thursday.

Division officials said they had “determined that Primrose School of Ballantyne is not a safe and healthy environment for children … and that emergency action is required to protect the health, safety and welfare of children.”

“We were really taken aback,” parent Abhay Kumar told WBTV, the Observer’s news partner, at Primrose Thursday morning. “We were shocked.”
Primrose told parents they hope to reopen soon, she said, but the parents might not come back.

“That’s a debatable question,” Kumar said.

On Thursday night, the national Primrose School chain announced it is terminating its franchise agreement with Ballantyne franchise owner Mary Schroeder.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the students and their families at this time,” CEO Jo Kirchner said in a statement. “These incidents are the kind that no parent should ever face. We take these allegations very seriously.”

Kirchner said the chain is “working diligently” to help parents find other day cares for their children. She referred all other questions about the case to police.

The school was in the news this week after Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police accused Starnes, 35, of “forcibly fondling” at least two boys at the south Charlotte school. Starnes was arrested on Friday and charged with six counts of indecent liberties with a child.

Police said they were notified on March 7 that an 8-year-old boy had been fondled at the school. During their investigation, CMPD detectives obtained information and evidence that a 7-year-old boy also had been fondled at the school in the 15900 block of Lancaster Highway.
The preschool has committed 16 child care violations since 2014, state records show.

State officials said the summary suspension is based upon school management’s failure to notify staff that a teacher was accused of inappropriately touching a child while working at the facility.

“Although the owner/administrator, the director and an assistant director had been informed of the allegations on March 6, 2017, they did not prevent the alleged perpetrator from caring for children for a portion of the day on March 7, 2017. Administration failed to ensure a safe environment for children by allowing the teacher to have access to children after being informed of the inappropriate touching,” said a statement from state officials.

“The teacher has since been arrested and charged with six counts of indecent liberties with a child. By failing to prevent the teacher from returning to the facility and allowing him contact with children, facility management exposed children to a significant risk of further harm.”

The preschool is rated one star in the state’s five-star ranking of day care centers, according to the N.C. Division of Child Development and Early Education. One star is the lowest rating.

State officials said they had issued two prior administrative actions against the center for noncompliance with state child care requirements, including supervision of children, discipline of children and criminal record checks.

Primrose was given a “special provisional license” effective Nov. 22 because of past violations, state records show. On Feb. 2, it improved to a one-star license.

No violations were found on an unannounced visit by the state on Feb. 7, but Primrose received a violation notice on an unannounced followup visit on Feb. 14. The violation was for not all staff providing test results before their employment showing they were free of active TB, state records show. Also, a staff member hired in August had TB test results older than 12 months.

The N.C. Division of Child Development and Early Education is charged with oversight of the safety of child care facilities.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article138866818.html#storylink=cpy