North Carolina Republicans have offered wide-ranging legislation that fixes anticipated class-size challenges in the public schools next fall. But it's loaded with other provisions that Democrats don't like.

A bill negotiated by House and Senate GOP leaders would phase in smaller class sizes for grades K-3 over a four-year period.

Alex Granados, a reporter with EducationNC, says it also includes additional money to help districts pay for teachers.

“Next year, school districts will get $60 million for enhancement teachers, those are your art, your physical education, music teachers, that kind of thing,” says Granados. “That's been a sticking point of this whole thing because with the way the formula worked and with the class size restrictions, districts were afraid they were going to lose funding for enhancement teachers.”

"I believe that we have arrived at a data-driven solution that will achieve the smaller classes that we all support and the taxpayers have paid for," said Sen. Chad Barefoot of Wake County, who helped negotiate the class-size agreement. "We've done it with a time frame and a timeline that will allow our schools to be able to implement it successfully."

But the measure could mean that Democrats would have to make some big concessions, as other provisions are part of the bill. It would reintroduce a combined ethics and elections board similar to the one the Supreme Court struck down last month.

It would also divert $57 million to be paid by utility companies wanting to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to public schools, instead of using it for environmental and economic projects as Gov. Roy Cooper's office wanted.

"It's clear that the legislature finally bowed to public pressure on class size and expanding pre-K, which is positive for our students, but it's unfortunate that it has been lumped in with political shenanigans," Cooper communications director Sadie Weiner said in a release.

Republican leaders say the bill would also eliminate the state's pre-K waiting list, adding close to 3,000 slots for low-income children to the program.

Supporters of the small class size mandate say it will help create better outcomes for students. Many educators say they don't disagree with that, but they say the legislation passed by lawmakers in 2016 didn't provide the resources needed to implement the changes.

*Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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