Lawmakers returned home to their districts after Tuesday’s session for a week-long Easter recess. The next floor votes in the House and Senate will occur Wednesday, April 19. After that the next major date on the legislative calendar is April 27, which is the crossover date. Crossover is the date by which statewide bills outside of those touching on spending or money-raising must pass one chamber or the other in order to remain eligible for the remainder of the 2017-18 biennium. With crossover approaching there will likely be a great deal of legislative activity when lawmakers return.
ACTION NEEDED – SCH BD LAWSUIT AUTHORITY
HB 305, the measure stripping school boards of the authority to file legal challenges to local funding, is scheduled for a committee hearing when lawmakers return from Easter recess. HB 305 is on the calendar for 10:00 AM on Wednesday, April 19, in the House State and Local Government I Committee.
Please contact members of this committee (click here) and your local House members (click here) and ask them to OPPOSE HB 305. Remind them how important it is that school boards keep this one mechanism that ensures checks and balances in the local education funding process.
Key Points to Communicate – School Board Lawsuit Authority/HB 305
1) NCSBA and the NC Association of County Commissioners agreed last year to have legislative staff study the local education funding dispute process and make some recommendations. That study is still ongoing, so moving legislation right now would be premature. The original agreement should be honored.
2) Eliminating local funding lawsuit authority raises the concern of how school boards are supposed to fulfill their Leandroobligation to provide an opportunity for a sound basic education on behalf of the State. This is because school boards would no longer have a method to hold county commissioners accountable for insufficient funding levels. Also, creating these roadblocks for school boards to advocate for sufficient funding could potentially invite student/parent lawsuits.
3) Only a small handful of education funding disputes have actually gone to trial. Mediation has usually worked to resolve any funding disagreements. But it is the threat of legal action that creates the incentive for commissioners to come to the table. HB 305 removes this one check and balance on commissioners and says that if there is no agreement in mediation, the commissioners have the final word on funding. This would make the mediation process essentially meaningless and there would be NO checks and balances between the two boards.
ACTION NEEDED – HOMESCHOOL ACCESS TO PUB SCHOOL SPORTS
There are indications that the Senate Education Committee could soon hold a hearing on SB 254, which requires LEAs to make its high school sports teams and extracurricular activities open to homeschooled students.
SB 254 also requires that if a public school student does not have a specific sport or extracurricular at his/her base high school, he/she must be allowed to participate in that sport/extracurricular at another public high school.
Please contact members of the Senate Education Committee (click here) as well as your own Senate members (click here) in opposition to SB 254. Below are just some of the significant issues that could result from mandating public high school sports and extracurriculars be made open to non-enrolled students. Make sure to communicate these points to your Senators.
Talking Points – Homeschool/Non-Enrolled Student Access to High School Sports
Residency accountability. How can schools or school systems check into the “red flags” of residency for homeschooled students? For example, a student assignment office might do “in home” visits if there are concerns about the student/parent/legal custodian living where they indicate is their residence. Would the school system have the legal right to investigate or do an “in-home” visit if the student is homeschooled?
Competitive balance. Non-enrolled students playing on high school sports teams could dramatically alter and upset the competitive balance. NCHSAA schools are classified into four different classes based on ADM at their school and play toward championships in those classifications. But now a school may be drawing from a much larger base (students from other schools); would classifications have to be altered to accommodate that?
Insurance and liability. It is unclear what the insurance/liability situation would be with SB 254. Would the student-athletes be covered even though they are not actually students at the given school?
Determining eligibility. In recent years the NCHSAA has tightened standards for checking eligibility, especially residency. But the logistics of trying to do this for students not even enrolled at that school and are from a whole host of different high schools could be mind-boggling. It is challenging enough for an athletic director to check eligibility for students at his or her school when the records are right there; this could mean trying to get attendance, academics and other information from a whole variety of other high schools and homeschools just for one athletic team’s eligibility.
School unity. Students who playing sports at two different high schools would be playing AGAINST their school in one sport but playing FOR that school in another sport. What effect would this have on school spirit? What effect would it have on school spirit, team loyalty, etc., when students who do not attend the school are now part of one of the sports teams?
SCHOOL CALENDAR FLEXIBILITY
A second school calendar flexibility bill cleared the House on Monday. Legislation giving authority to ALL LEAs to move their start date as early as August 15 to align with the start of their local community college- HB 375– passed 108-6. Along with HB 389, which passed last week, the House has now sent the Senate two different kinds of calendar flexibility bills to consider.
Be sure to thank your House members who voted for the calendar flexibility bills.
To see which LEAs would be put into the HB 389 calendar pilot click here.
TEACHER BILLS PASS COMMITTEE
Several bills designed to help improve teacher recruitment and retention cleared the Senate Education Committee this week. They have all been referred to other committees. Among the bills the committee passed Tuesday were:
Senate Bill 448. Authorizes school boards to contract with professors at universities and community colleges to teach core academic subjects in any grade. The individual would not have to obtain a teaching license but would be subject to certain criteria established by the SBE.
Sponsors: Senators Chad Barefoot, R-Wake, Paul Newton, R-Cabarrus, Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth
Senate Bill 447. Expands the teacher assistant tuition reimbursement pilot program to include 10 more LEAs. This popular pilot reimburses TAs for up to $4,500 of the costs of tuition for pursing teacher licensure degrees. This bill expands the pilot to Bertie, Duplin, Edenton-Chowan, Edgecombe, Halifax, Nash-Rocky Mount, Northampton, Tyrrell, Vance, Washington. It also clarifies that TAs participating in this pilot can receive their salary and benefits while doing their student teaching.
Sponsors: Senators Chad Barefoot, R-Wake, Tom McInnis, R-Richmond, Erica Smith-Ingram, D-Northampton
SB 517 and SB 598 were also approved. These are designed to improve the teacher preparation pipeline and encourage teacher ed graduates to stay in state.
NOTABLE BILLS FILED THIS WEEK
HB 638. This expands lottery advertising to generate additional lottery revenue. Each LEA in Tier 1 and Tier 2 would be eligible for up to $10 million/year in additional school construction lottery funds through the increased revenue.
Sponsors: Reps. Kevin Corbin, R-Cherokee, Terry Garrison D-Vance, Howard Hunter, D-Hertford, Larry Potts, R-Davidson
Low-Performing School Definition
HB 826. This provides that if a D or F school/LEA is meeting expected growth, it cannot be considered “low-performing.” This is an NCSBA legislative agenda priority.
Sponsors: Reps. Dennis Riddell, R-Alamance, Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, Andy Dulin, R-Mecklenburg, John Fraley, R-Iredell
Opportunity Scholarship Accountability
HB 678. Requires that a non-public school provide evidence of accreditation in order to be eligible to receive public funds through the state’s voucher program. NCSBA’s legislative agenda suggests this as a method of putting additional accountability into the program.
Sponsor: Rep. John Ager, D-Buncombe
School Bus Drivers
HB 641. Sets aside funds to allow for school bus drivers to receive a raise of up to $2.00/hr.
Sponsor: Rep. Beverly Boswell, R-Dare
K-3 Class Sizes: Phillip Price, former CFO of DPI, writes how any discussion about the K-3 class size issue needs to factor in how overall resources for public schools have declined. Click here to read the editorial.
School Capital: Leanne Winner, NCSBA Director of Governmental Relations, and Kevin Leonard, NCACC Executive Director, were on the latest episode of Education Matters to talk about legislative proposals to help locals cope with the $8 billion in public school construction needs. You can watch the conversation here.
Action Bills: Click here for the NCSBA-tracked bills that had action this week.
New Bills: Click here for a list of bills filed this week that NCSBA is tracking.
UPCOMING LEGISLATIVE MEETINGS AND EVENTS
Wednesday, April 19
The House State and Local Government I Committee will meet and consider the following pertinent bill:
HB 305- School Boards Can’t Sue Counties
The House State and Local Government II Committee will meet and consider the following pertinent bill:
HB 482- County Comm. Role in School Bldg Acquisition
The Senate Health Care Committee will meet and consider the following pertinent bills:
SB 316- Suicide Prevention/Awareness School Personnel
SB 594- Family/Child Protection & Accountability Act
The Senate Finance Committee will meet and consider the following pertinent bill:
SB 343- Increase Teacher Supplement/Electronic Notice
Thursday, April 20
The House K-12 Education Committee will meet and consider the following bills:
HB 285- Suicide Prevention/Awareness School Personnel
HB 556- Office of Early Childhood Education
HB 634- Private Alternative Preparation