• Class size fix has other changes Democrats wish were absent

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    RALEIGH, N.C. - The Republican-controlled legislature is one step from finalizing a compromise to phase in class-size limits in early grades in North Carolina public schools. Democrats will have to stomach provisions attached to it that target Gov. Roy Cooper if they want to vote for the plan.

    The House scheduled a final vote Tuesday for the education legislation, which also pledges by 2020 to pay for preschool for all at-risk 4-year-olds.

    The new bill may help ease concerns from major school districts like CMS which have been fighting the original classroom size mandate because of lack of funding.

    In 2016, lawmakers passed a law which would reduce classroom sizes for kindergarten through third grade in an effort to improve literacy. CMS leaders said the district would need to spend millions and cut classes like art, and physical education to make that happen.

    Class sizes would gradually be lowered over four years, beginning after next school year.

    The bill would include $60 million a year to pay for art, music, physical education, and language teachers. The money would also be added to eliminate the Pre-K waiting list.

    But the measure also includes changes to the combined state elections and ethics board, and diverts money received from an agreement Cooper's office reached with builders of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to schools.

    Most Senate Democrats joined Republicans voting last week for the measure, which goes to Cooper with a positive House vote. Cooper could make it law or veto it.

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