Governor Signs Budget That Funds Historic Expansion of Opportunity Scholarships Program

Raleigh, NC (July 14, 2016) – Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC) applauds North Carolina’s lawmakers and governor for their support of a transformational budget prioritizing innovation and choice in K-12 education. Passed by the legislature earlier this month and signed by Governor Pat McCrory today, the budget significantly increases public K-12 education funding by $512 million, dramatically boosts teacher salaries by 4.7%, and funds a historic expansion of the Opportunity Scholarship Program over the next ten years.

Below is a statement about the new state budget from Darrell Allison, president of PEFNC:

“This generous budget targets K-12 education priorities in a multi-faceted but comprehensive way. It rewards our hardworking teachers by raising the average salary to over $50,000; in three years, this amount will near $55,000. The budget reduces class size in the pivotal early grades, and through a $10 million pilot program, rewards those teachers through performance-based bonuses. It increases funds for the Children with Disabilities Scholarship Grant, helping families in our state who care for children with special needs. And it provides for a massive expansion of the Opportunity Scholarship Program, giving thousands more low-income students a real choice in education; by 2028-29, nearly 36,000 students could receive private school scholarships worth up to $4,200.

Hard working, tax-paying families all across North Carolina now have the ability to plot their children’s academic path, not by others who approach education from a one-size-fits all model, but as they, parents, see fit. A single dad will now see his tax-dollars go to a school that can specifically help his child with special needs, and this expansion breaks down the financial barrier for a mother of two who simply seeks a better learning environment than what the system has assigned her children to.

On behalf of thousands of families across this state, I want to thank Governor Pat McCrory for signing this historic bill. I also wish to express my gratitude to Senate President Phil Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore, and other visionary lawmakers in the North Carolina General Assembly who saw the need for educational choice and took action―first by enacting the Opportunity Scholarship Program in 2013, and now, by meeting powerful parental demand through funding its expansion. Since the Program’s inception, more than 22,300 applications have flooded in; this budget validates and empowers these families who so clearly desire a choice for their children.

Most fundamentally, this expansion shows the Opportunity Scholarship Program is here to stay. It reassures that the child who started on the program in 2014 in kindergarten will now be able to utilize the scholarship until their graduation. It also conveys permanence for the families exploring future educational options and for the private schools in our state―including the 400-plus schools currently registered with the Program, as well as those seriously considering participation.

There is no denying the new reality:  North Carolina values innovation, reform, and choice in education. The historic expansion of the Opportunity Scholarship Program, the explosive growth of public charter schools, and even the innovative pilot programs within our district public schools, all point to unprecedented support for customizing education to the needs of the child.”

PEFNC Funding and Enrollment Chart for the Ten Year Opportunity Scholarship Expansion

School Year Appropriation Estimated Scholarships Available*
2016-2017 $24,800,000 6,200
2017-2018 $34,800,000 8,325
2018-2019 $44,840,000 10,835
2019-2020 $54,840,000 13,335
2020-2021 $64,840,000 15,835
2021-2022 $74,840,000 18,335
2022-2023 $84,840,000 20,835
2023-2024 $94,840,000 23,335
2024-2025 $104,840,000 25,835
2025-2026 $114,840,000 28,335
2026-2027 $124,840,000 30,835
2027-2028 $134,840,000 33,335
2028-2029 $144,840,000 35,835

2016-17 figures based on NCSEAA reporting.

2017-2029 figures estimate approx. $1.5 million for NCSEAA administrative costs per fiscal year.

*Estimated scholarships based on an average scholarship of $4,000; maximum per-student award is $4,200.