Cooper to allow class size bill to become law without his signature

RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper will neither sign nor veto House Bill 90 that would give North Carolina elementary schools additional time to reduce class sizes due to the other legislative changes attached to the bill. The bill was overwhelmingy approved by the Senate and the House to help school districts who argued they can’t meet the class-size reductions this year. Gov. Cooper says HB90 should not have included pipeline fund and election board changes. Cooper will allow the bill to become law without his signature.

The bill changes class-size implementation in kindergarten through third grade over the next four years instead of fall 2018. The bill increases funding for pre-kindergarten to eliminate the state’s waiting list. however, it also includes changes the composition of the State Board of Elections and would take away Cooper’s control of a $58 million fund tied for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Governor Roy Cooper

The bill takes $58 million that energy companies building a pipeline through Eastern North Carolina are expected to give state government who will distribute it to school districts in eight counties the pipeline would run through. he elections board changes are the response to Republicans’ recent loss in the state Supreme Court in a ruling that said their earlier attempt to reshape the board was unconstitutional. In the latest iteration, the board would have nine members, including one member not affiliated with a political party.

School districts have protested the lowering of average K-3 class sizes from 20 students per room this school year to roughly 17 students starting in July. School officials argue they don’t have thousands of extra classrooms needed and might have to fire art, music and physical education teachers to fund additional K-3 teachers.

SB90 specifies class sizes in kindergarten through third grade will remain unchanged for the 2018-19 school year. The bill also provides $61.4 million a year for school districts to pay for arts and PE teachers.