NCMEA Strategic Direction

Inform, engage, and activate the public, policymakers, and educational leaders to promote and support music as an integral and core component of a comprehensive and balanced education accessible to all students.

Read our official Advocacy Position statement.

State Budget Update
September 25, 2023

On September 22 the state legislature passed the state’s two year budget for the 2023-2025 biennium. Following is an overview of the education-related appropriations and comprehensive policy changes in the act. The General Assembly funded some programs using one-time funds from the recently-created ARPA Temporary Savings Fund consisting of savings realized from the enhanced federal medical assistance percentage the state is receiving as a result of Medicaid expansion, made available in the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Governor Cooper has stated he will not sign the budget but will allow it to go into effect without his signature; the budget will become law October 2. The Governor referred to the importance of Medicaid expansion, which would not go into effect without an enacted budget for the current fiscal year, as his primary reason for not vetoing the bill.

Salaries and other compensation

  • Increases salaries for teachers and other certified school personnel by an average of 7% total over the next two fiscal years
  • Increases salaries for non-certified personnel by 7% over the biennium
  • Expands the Advanced Teaching Roles program and provides salary supplements for teachers in the program
  • Increases bus driver salaries by 2% in addition to the 7% received by all school personnel

Policy Changes and Other Appropriations

  • Arts Proficiency High School Diploma Endorsement: This is a provision that NCMEA has advocated for throughout the 2023 long session.  This provision started out as a House bill but eventually ended up in the budget bill.  This budget provision directs the State Board of Education to establish an arts proficiency high school diploma endorsement to encourage students to obtain a well-rounded, high-quality arts education. This budget provision provides that the Board shall create any form necessary for students to document their arts participation and also requires the Board to provide this form to local boards of education. This section of the budget also states that the Board must develop criteria for receiving a diploma endorsement under this subsection that include the following: (1) Completion of a minimum of four arts credits with an unweighted grade point average of 3.0 or higher in each arts credit completed by the student. (2) Completion of a minimum of 40 hours of arts-related extracurricular activities. To receive credit for completing these hours, a student shall meet all of the following requirements: a. The student participates in an arts-related extracurricular activity that is approved by the local board of education. b. The student completes all of the required hours outside of instructional hours. c. The student does not receive any course credit for participation in the activity. d. The student documents the hours on the form provided by the Board to local boards of education. 3) Any additional criteria deemed necessary by the Board.
  • Expands the Opportunity Scholarship program to make all students residing in the state eligible; students may receive 100%, 90%, 60% or 45% of the state per pupil allocation, depending on the household income of the student
  • Delays the implementation date of certain portions of Session Law 2023-106 Parents Bill of Rights to January 2024 in most cases to give school systems time to implement the changes
  • Appropriates $1 million annually beginning in FY24-25 for a grant program to reimburse teachers for the fee for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification
  • Requires certain teacher mandatory training programs to count toward continuing education credits; prohibits the requirement of continuing education credits solely related to digital teaching
  • Makes three-year limited teaching licenses renewable; requires for renewal an affidavit from the employing local board of education stating the teacher is an effective teacher
  • Requires the State Board of Education to grant a Continuing Professional License to a teacher licensed in another state with substantially similar licensure requirements who has at least three years of teaching experience
  • Directs DPI to base the ADM formula on actual ADM from the prior year instead of projections for the upcoming year
  • Raises the maximum grant from the Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund from Education Lottery proceeds to $42 million for an elementary school, $52 million for a middle school, and $62 million for a high school
  • Directs the State Board of Education to develop a sequence of courses to allow a student to graduate from high school in three years
  • Directs the State Board of Education to establish college and career endorsements, an arts proficiency endorsement and a citizenship proficiency endorsement for high school diplomas
  • Directs the State Board of Education to develop standards for an elective middle school course on career pathways, requires all students to complete a career development plan by the end of the 7th grade and to revise the plan by the end of the 10th grade; sets standards for the plan
  • Prohibits school counselors from assisting with standardized testing
  • Increases funding in the TAs to Teachers program to provide tuition assistance to part-time or full-time teacher assistants pursuing a degree in teaching
  • Provides $1 million annually to establish a Teacher Apprentice Grant Program to provide grants for the cost of tuition for teacher apprentices
  • Increases Small County supplemental funding by $4.7 million annually
  • Increases the classroom supplies allotment by $10 million in one-time funds and $1 million annually
  • Increases by $4 million annually the appropriation for the Economically Disadvantaged Public Schools Support program to support the efforts of certain schools to exceed growth in subsequent school years through curriculum, support for students, and retention programs for employees
  • Appropriates $70 million over two years for a new School Safety Grants Program to provide services for students in crisis, school safety training, safety equipment, and subsidize the School Resource Officer Grants Program
  • Adds 120 school health personnel (school nurse, counselor, social worker and psychologists) statewide
  • Directs DPI to develop a model for funding children with disabilities services
  • Makes all students that qualify for reduced-priced meals eligible for breakfast and lunch at no cost and funds the student copays; prohibits public schools from imposing administrative penalties for unpaid school meal debt

Legislative Update
May 26, 2023

Last week the state Senate passed its version of the state’s two-year budget for the 2023-2025 biennium (HB 259 Appropriations Act of 2023). The Senate and House are now negotiating differences between their versions to develop a final budget for the 2023-2025 biennium, hopefully by the end of June.  For a detailed comparison between the House and Senate education budgets, please see NCDPI’s Financial and Business Services webpage, scroll down to the “What’s New” section, and download their “Budget Comparison 2023-24” excel spreadsheet.

Here is an overview of the education-related appropriations and relevant policy changes in the Senate’s budget bill:

  • Increases salaries for teachers (on average, not across-the board) by 4.5% over the next two fiscal years and funds step increases
  • Increase salaries of other eligible school employees by 5% over the next two fiscal years
  • Up to $5,000 in teacher bonuses for those in eligible school systems based on a county’s adjusted market value of taxable real property (must be less than $43.7 billion)
  • Continues a teacher signing bonus program for systems in low-wealth and small counties; local school systems must match state funds at a 1:1 ratio up to $1000 maximum bonus per teacher
  • Continues prior EVAAS-based and other teacher bonuses in certain content areas (such as Career Technical Education, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, etc.)
  • Continues salary supplements for teachers in the “Advanced Teaching Roles” program and provides $3000 – $10,000 annually for teachers who assume additional responsibilities and leadership under that program
  • Funds an additional 120 school health positions statewide, under a new “School Health Personnel” allotment for school counselors, social workers, nurses and psychologists
  • Provides $35 million one-time funds in each year of the biennium for public school units to apply for school safety grants for students in crisis, school safety training, safety equipment, and to subsidize the School Resource Officer Grants Program
  • Increases Small County supplemental funding by $4.7 million annually
  • Provides $3 million annually plus $3 million one-time to offset copays for reduced-price lunches and breakfasts and prohibits public school units from imposing administrative penalties on a student for unpaid school meal debt
  • Expands the eligibility for Opportunity Scholarships to all students in an amount based on the income level of the student’s family, and increases funding for the scholarships by $116 million in 2023-24 and $163 million annually in subsequent fiscal years (please see one sample of the comprehensive news coverage on this item)
  • Directs the State Board of Education to develop and local boards of education to offer a sequence of courses allowing students to graduate in three years
  • Establishes a scholarship program for students who graduate in three years and attend a community college, UNC System school, or non-profit college in the state
  • Directs the State Board of Education to develop standards for a middle school course on career pathways, requires all 7th-grade students to complete the course and a career development plan, and requires all 10th-grade students to revise the plan
  • Requires career development coordinators to spend 80 percent of their work time providing direct services to students, and prohibits school counselors from spending any work time coordinating standardized testing
  • Raises the maximum grant from the Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund from Education Lottery proceeds to $40 million for an elementary school, $50 million for a middle school, and $60 million for a high school
  • Directs DPI to fund public school units based on actual Average Daily Membership (ADM) in the current school year as opposed to ADM projections for the upcoming year, beginning with the 2024-2025 school year
  • Revises the criteria for allocating transportation funds to public school units to consider efficiencies
  • Directs the Superintendent of Public Instruction to conduct a remote instruction flexibility pilot program with 10 high schools in the state for the next five school years

Other Spending Items for Children’s Health & Wellness

  • Provides $44 million annually for increased Medicaid services for children in foster care
  • Provides $5 million annually to support competitive integrated employment through vocational rehabilitation services and other support for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities
  • Funds 50 additional crisis stabilization beds for children statewide
  • Directs $22.5 million over two years from the Juul Labs settlement for youth electronic nicotine dependence abatement
  • Directs the Department of Health and Human Services to convene a workgroup of stakeholders to identify innovative Medicaid service options to address gaps in the care of children receiving foster services
  • Prohibits state and local entities from denying employment to any person who refuses to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, unless vaccination is a federal requirement, or the person is an employee of a state healthcare facility
  • Prohibits public schools, community colleges, UNC system schools, and private colleges receiving state funds from requiring students to receive a COVID-19 vaccination

Finally, feel free to watch the Senate press conference from May 15, covering the Senate budget proposal.

APRIL 13, 2023

The big news is the House’s budget bill, House Bill 259, which the House approved on Thursday, April 6. Now the bill goes to the Senate for its revisions to the budget bill of the year. Here are some of the highlights of the House’s budget proposal:

  1. 7.5% across-the-board pay raises for teachers over the 2023-2025 biennium:
    1. 4.25% increase in 2023-24
    2. 3.25% increase in 2024-25
  2. Other targeted increases and step increases for teachers that amount to an average pay increase of 11.2% over the biennium (including the proposed 7.5% increase above)
  3. Master’s pay reinstated
  4. Expansion of the “Program Enhancement” Teacher Allotment (which includes Music Educators) from K-5th grade to K-12th grade.
    1. For the exact details, please see pages 43-44 of the House’s Budget Bill (HB 259).
    2. Please note that Senators have introduced a very different approach to position allotments generally in their recently-filed SB 670 “Create New Weighted Student Funding Model.”
  5. 7.5% increase in principal pay
  6. 2% pay increase for bus drivers
  7. Paid parental leave for eligible teachers
  8. A new School Health Personnel Allotment with increased funding for 120 new positions for school counselors, social workers, nurses, or school psychologists
  9. $60 Million for new 4th grade teacher assistants in 2023
  10. $20 Million in School Safety Grants for 2023
  11. $10 Million for teachers’ professional development
  12. $7.8 Million for DPI to reduce student meal debt in 2023
  13. 2% Cost-of-living increase (COLA) for state/local government retirees
  14. New requirement for educators to post instructional materials online and a new process that would form local committees to investigate challenges to instructional materials
  15. $537 Million to the Division of Child Development and Early Education at the NC Department of Health and Human Services for increasing child subsidy rates, increases for Smart Start, and various childcare pilots
  16. A new Commission that would recommend academic standards to the State Board of Education
  17. $56 million more in funding for the “Opportunity Scholarships” (aka “vouchers”). Please see this March 31 article on new related legislation this year.
  18. Progress on a new Education Campus – consolidating NCDPI, Community Colleges Office and the UNC System Office – set for the space currently occupied by the Administrative Building on Jones Street, a building set for demolition later this year as it stands now.

For more details on the House budget, please see this excellent EdNC article of 3.29.23 and another from 4.6.23 on the House Budget education items.

Relevant Bills That Are Now Law

  1. HB 76 Access to Healthcare Options (now Session Law 2023-7) This is the big Medicaid expansion bill of the year that has been signed into law; however, the actual expansion of Medicaid in NC is hinged to the enactment of the 2023 budget bill. So, for Medicaid to be expanded under this new law, the General Assembly has to enact a 2023 budget.
  2. SB 41 Guarantee 2nd Amendment Freedom and Protections (now Session Law 2023-8) The House and Senate overrode the Governor’s veto of this gun law bill, and now the bill has become law. The new law does away with the prior requirement to first obtain a permit from the Sherriff’s Office before being able to purchase a handgun and expands concealed carry permits onto specific school properties under certain conditions.

Other Relevant Bills moving through the NC General Assembly

  1. HB 136 Arts High School Diploma Endorsement
  2. HB 498 K-5 Art and Music
  3. HB 38 Entry Fees for High School Interscholastic Events
  4. SB 90 Searches of Student’s Person
  5. SB 157/HB 261 Limited Provisional License Modification
    This bill would reduce the required length of time (from 12 months to 9 months) for a student to hold a driver education learner’s permit before obtaining a license.
  6. SB 193 Career Development Plans
  7. SB 670 Create New Weighted Student Funding Model
  8. HB 10 Require Sheriffs to Cooperate with ICE
  9. HB 253 Prevent Students from Harm Act
  10. HB 382 Registered Nurses in Schools

Please feel free to regularly check NC Department of Public Instruction’s link to all Education Bills that is updated each week of the General Assembly’s Long Session.

The legislature plans to take its Spring Break during the week of April 10, returning for business on Monday April 17. Then, the Senate will be working on releasing its budget bill in April/May. NCMEA will continue to closely monitor all relevant legislation for you, especially as you get ready for April 18th ARTS Day. If April 18th is your first time coming to the General Assembly in a while, please take this Virtual Tour of the legislative building to get your bearings in advance.

Finally, as you think about advocating on any of these bills including state funding, please Find Your State Legislators today by typing in your address and then confirming your NC House and NC Senate members of the NC General Assembly (not the U.S. Congress) and contact your state legislators about support for NC Music Educators. Call them, email them, set up a time to meet with them face-to-face in your district or in Raleigh. The input from our NCMEA members is critically important, now more than ever.

Legislative Day 2022

Ad Info for 2022-2023

From L to R: Jazzmone Sutton, Ashley Perkinson, Jamie Bream, Jonathan Hamiel, GOP State Representative Donny Lambeth, Rachel Beaulieu, Roman Brady


This past June in Raleigh, NCMEA staff joined arts champions from all over the state to meet with our elected leaders to advocate for the arts. Visiting with us on a productive Legislative Day were NAfME Southern Division President James Daugherty and NAfME State Advocacy Engagement Manager Jazzmone Sutton. Guided by our lobbyists Ashley Perkinson and Rachel Beaulieu, the group met with several State Representatives and State Senators throughout the day.

JULY 6, 2022

The North Carolina General Assembly’s 2022 Short Session has primarily concluded, though legislators will be back in Raleigh on July 26 for certain purposes such as the potential adoption of conference reports and veto override votes.

Legislators were successful in adopting a new proposed budget, and the proposed budget has been presented to the Governor for his consideration. Key provisions of the education section of the budget are described below.


North Carolina teachers will receive, on average, a 4.2% raise for FY 2022-23 instead of the previous figure of only 2.5% in last year’s budget. Instead of a beginning teacher’s salary at $35,000, it now will start at $37,000 due to the rate increase. Step increases are fully funded. For the 2022-23 Teacher Salary Schedule, please see pages 43-44 of the 2022 Budget Bill/HB 103.

There is a consolidated teacher bonus program that ties the payout to the teacher’s student growth scores. Non-certified staff will either receive a 4% pay raise or have their hourly pay reach $15 an hour, whichever is more.* Some legislators maintain that the budget funds around half of the costs found in the Leandro Plan, which is still to be reviewed by the NC Supreme Court.

With school safety at the forefront of policy concerns, the state will allocate $32M to the School Safety Grant program whose funds are used for students in crisis, training and safety equipment. In addition, $15M is set aside for the School Resource Officer Grant program, particularly for elementary and middle schools. This increases the state match twofold to $4 from the state for every $1 provided by the district. In addition, $26M will go to an allotment to ensure that every high school has a School Resource Officer.

In the 2021 budget, $100M was distributed to school districts to provide local teacher supplements, and this funding is now upped to $170M in total with an emphasis on districts with fewer resources. Lawmakers infused the budget with an additional $56M into the Opportunity Scholarship Grant Reserve and expanded income eligibility to 200% of the amount students need to qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. The Department of Public Instruction will use funds available for the School Business System Modernization Plan so that school administrative units and charter schools can migrate their business data to offsite premises and still meet Uniform Education Reporting System requirements. The Department of Public Instruction will add a minimum of 13 full-time employees to provide professional development and support to teachers who work with students with disabilities aged 3 – 5 (pg. 40).

  • $109M recurring – Teacher Salary Schedule Increases: The base teacher salary schedule increases monthly starting teacher pay to $3,700. Including step movement along the schedule, the average salary increase resulting from the schedule change in FY 2022-23 is approximately 4.2% (B15)
  • $70M recurring – Teacher Supplement Assistance Allotment: Provides additional funding to the Teacher Supplement Assistance Allotment and increases the maximum award per eligible teacher from $4,250 to $5,000 (B15)
  • 1% Retiree One-Time Cost of Living Supplement
  • $22M recurring – Comp. Increase Reserve/Noncertified Personnel: Provides funding for an additional 1.5% increase for noncertified personnel who are paid above the $15/hour minimum wage requirement for State-funded employees. The revised salary increase for State-funded noncertified personnel in FY 2022-23 is the greater of 4% or an increase to $15/hour (B15)
  • 7% increase – NC Pre-K Reimbursement Rates for Child Care Center Teachers: Further increases the rate for 2022-23 to address disparities in teacher salaries between Pre-K teachers in public schools versus private child care centers
  • $62.3M recurring – Special Population Headcount Adjustments: Increases funding for Exceptional Children and Limited English Proficient students
  • $32M nonrecurring – Transportation Fuel Reserve: Provides funds to support increased school transportation fuel costs. DPI shall distribute these funds based on need (B16)
  • $32M nonrecurring – School Safety Grants Program: Provides additional funding for the school safety competitive grant program to support students in crisis, school safety training, and safety equipment in schools. The revised net appropriation for this purpose is $41.7 million in FY 2022 -23 (B17)
  • $26M nonrecurring – At-Risk Funding/School Resource Officers: Provides additional funding for the At-Risk allotment to reflect the actual average salaries of school resource officers provided for each funded high school. The revised net appropriation for this allotment, including technical adjustments, is $337.7 million (B17)
  • $15M recurring – School Resource Officers: Provides additional funding for the School Resource Officer grant program operated under G.S. 115C -105.60. The revised net appropriation for this purpose is $33.0 million in FY 222-23 (B17)
  • $3M nonrecurring – Career and Technical Education (CTE) Grants: Provides funds for a grant program for the modernization and support of CTE programs. The grant program prioritizes low-wealth counties with high populations of at-risk students or students with disabilities. Up to $2 million may be used for modernizing existing programs in middle schools. Up to $1 million may be used to fund ancillary items necessary for CTE programs (B17)
  • $4M nonrecurring – Reduced-Price Lunch Copays: Provides funds to offset the copays for students eligible for reduced-price lunches in schools participating in the National School Lunch Program (B17)
  • $500,000 nonrecurring – Interoperable Student Data Systems Study: Provides a directed grant to myFutureNC, Inc. to study and submit a report by March 15, 2023, on the creation of an interconnected, real-time data system to facilitate communication and transition of students between public schools, community colleges, and universities (B20)
  • $56M recurring – Opportunity Scholarship Grant Fund Reserve: Provides additional funds to the Opportunity Scholarship Grant Fund Reserve (Reserve). Funds appropriated to the Reserve in a given fiscal year are used to award scholarship grants in the subsequent fiscal year. The revised net appropriation to the Reserve in FY 2022-23 is $150.8 million (B31)
  • $16.3M recurring – Personal Education Student Accounts (PESAs) for Children with Disabilities: Increases total funding to $48.9M in 2023-24 and further increases funds by an additional $1M each year for 10 years and solidifies this funding in the base budget. Clarifies the list of eligible disabilities by striking “developmental disability” but maintains intellectual and other physical disabilities (Section 8A.6)
  • $14M recurring/$600,000 nonrecurring – Regional Literacy and Early Learning Specialists: Provides funding for 9 Regional Literacy Coaches and 115 Early Learning Specialists, one for every school district (B18)
  • New authority for local school systems to create “Remote Academies”
  • $168M – New Education Complex to house the Department of Public Instruction, Community Colleges System Office, UNC System Offices and the Department of Commerce (H2)


For more information on educator salaries and benefits, please check DPI’s Financial & Business Services Summary of 2022-23 Budget.

2021 Legislative Session

Advocacy Legislative Agenda – January 2021

List of Senate & House Appropriation Committee Members

Lobbyist Reports

Enumerating the Importance of African American Music Beyond the Moment
A Call for Advocacy, Reflection, and Action–June 2020



In August 2019, NAfME endorsed a second bicameral resolution to celebrate the musical contributions of African Americans to United States culture and history. The resolution highlights the importance of increasing African American students’ broad participation in music education, as well as recognizing June as African American Music Appreciation Month.

While first decreed in the Carter administration as Black Music Month, it was not until 2000 that the first congressional resolution to officially commemorate African American music formally established African American Music Appreciation Month.

As NCMEA celebrates our fiftieth anniversary we want to celebrate and recognize the significant milestones and struggles of the African American music experience within North Carolina. There is no question that the power of African American music has defined the American experience and we also know from our own beginnings that strong leadership from within African American music associations paved the way for NCMEA to form.

Read the full document here:
Enumerating the Importance of African American Music Beyond the Moment.

NCMEA Music Educators Advocacy Toolkit – (Updated 12/3/19)

Everything ESSA

After years of stalled negotiations and Congressional stalemates, Congress has put No Child Left Behind away for good and passed by an overwhelming majority a new version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. ESSA’s passage is an historic victory for music education advocates, because it includes for the first time a specific and separate mention of music as a part of a ‘well-rounded education.’ More information can be found at NAfME’s ESSA page.

Title IV, Part A Toolkit and FAQ

To learn more about how ESSA funding works see NAfME’s Title IV, Part A Toolkit and get answers to frequently asked questions.

Presentation from NCMEA District Meeting

This document briefly explains the current situation regarding ESSA, SSAE (Title IV, Part A), the funding distribution for LEA’s & next steps for NCMEA members.