NCSBA Legislative Alert – April 9, 2020

NCSBA Legislative Alert – April 9, 2020

The Fight Against the Coronavirus

The NCSBA Governmental Relations team continues to follow action being taken by local, state, and federal government in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19). NCSBA has also been updating its webpage containing information and resources about the coronavirus.

DHHS has reported 3,651 positive cases for COVID-19 in 91 counties, and 65 deaths from COVID-19 in North Carolina. Click here to access the DHHS webpage that keeps North Carolinians updated on the state’s response to the coronavirus.

From the State Board of Education and the Department of Public Instruction

The SBE held an emergency conference call meeting at 2:30 pm on Thursday, April 9. Agenda items included:

The SBE approved waiver requests to the General Assembly regarding assessments, assessment-related identification and decisions, school grades and report cards, and assessment-related pay. Click here to see the full list of SBE/DPI waiver requests to the General Assembly.

The SBE also approved the development and implementation of a transportation funding formula that will protect school districts from a reduction in their 2020-21 transportation allotments when being compared to the 2019-20 levels.

The state’s contract extension with Istation requires Istation to “preserve and maintain (1) all systems created pursuant to the State’s June 7, 2019 Contract with Istation and (2) all data generated on Istation by the State, its constituent education units, educators, and students between June 7, 2019 and March 31, 2020”. The contract is extended until June 30, 2020 and will cost a total of $243,310. Under the contract, there will be no state-level Istation data collected, but individual school districts and schools can create contracts with Istation for continued use of formative assessments. This Board-approved contract is much different than the prior proposal, which would have continued state-level assessments until July 31, 2020 and cost a total of $1,178,142. Click here to access a draft statement regarding the SBE’s approval of this contract extension.

Click here to access all meeting materials, including additional recommendations and actions taken in response to COVID-19.

 

From the NC General Assembly – House Select Committee on COVID-19

The Education Working Group of the House Select Committee on COVID-19 met at 2:00 pm on Thursday, April 9. Legislative staff presented statutory requirements in four areas that may require legislative action as a result of COVID-19’s impact on our state. Click on the links below to see a description of the concerns, whether legislative action is needed, and the chairs’ recommendations. The presentation was for discussion only; no votes were taken.

Highlights of Graduation and Testing Recommendations

  • For 2020, waive CPR requirement for graduating seniors
  • Waive requirements for K-3 formative/diagnostic tests not yet completed for 2019-20 school year
  • Waive requirement to administer WorkKeys for the spring 2020 semester
  • Waive school performance scores and grades for 2019-20 school year
  • Continue current identifications of low-performing schools based on 2018-19 data
  • No school selected to enter the ISD in 2020-21 school year
    • Exempt 2019-20 data from three-year cycle assessment – data will include 2018-19, 2020-21, 2021-22 school years
  • Allow principals to make 2019-20 third-grade promotion decisions in the same way as other grades
  • Waive reading camps in 2020 but require reading assessments for all fourth-grade students in 2020-21 school year
  • Waive Read to Achieve reporting requirements for 2019-20 school year
  • Eligibility for principal recruitment bonuses in 2020-21 will be based off of 2018-19 data
  • No action is needed to address teacher reading and math bonuses, as well as bonuses for teachers in AP, IB, AICE, and CTE, because there was no budget passed to fund them
  • Advanced math placement, which is statutorily based on EOC/EOG scores, will instead be made in the same manner as other courses in 2020-21 school year

 

The Continuity of State Operations Working Group of the House Select Committee on COVID-19 met at 2:00 pm on Tuesday, April 7. Charles Perusse, Director of the Office of State Budget and Management (OSBM), gave an update on the fiscal and economic status of the state.

OSBM Actions

  • Moved agency funding allotments from quarterly to monthly during April, May, and June
  • Closely monitoring cash management – the state is currently in good condition
  • Have not imposed any hiring restrictions on state agencies
  • Provided spending flexibility to agencies that depend on receipts
  • Tracking expenditures and lost revenues to be reimbursed with federal funds

Federal Funds

  • Enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) = $13 million to $15 million per week (estimated $700 million per year)
  • Coronavirus Relief Fund = $4.07 billion for state and local governments
  • Disaster Relief Fund = not yet known
  • Education Stabilization Fund = $849 million for K-12 and higher education (no distribution formula yet)

Economic Outlook

  • Expect GDP to contract slightly in Q1 and substantially in Q2, become flat in Q3, and recover in Q4
  • Expect 10% unemployment by the end of 2020 (unofficially, could go as high as 13%)
  • A consensus forecast with the legislative economists will be published by mid-May
  • The delay in income and franchise tax payments to July 15 will shift revenue from this fiscal year to next fiscal year
  • There will be revenue loss in sales taxes and income taxes from business closures

Short Session

  • Before COVID-19, the fund balance at the end of FY 2019-20 was estimated to be $2.3 billion – after COVID-19, the estimated fund balance is unknown
  • Revenue loss and COVID-19 expenditures will be offset by an estimated $2.2 billion from the Coronavirus Relief Fund and $330 million from Enhanced FMAP for FY 2019-20

 

From the Governor

The Governor’s office asked that NCSBA share the following document with our members: Promotional Toolkit – NCDHHS Child Care, Meal Sites & Educational Resources. The document encourages you to share this with parents and families.

Governor’s Press Releases and Executive Orders

  • On April 9 Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 131, which increases requirements and recommendations for social distancing, strengthens long-term care facility rules, and eases the process of filing unemployment insurance claims.
  • On April 8
    • Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 130, which provides emergency statewide expansion of hospital services, hospital beds, emergency childcare services, healthcare personnel, and access to telehealth.
    • Governor Cooper announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) granted the state approval to provide North Carolinians who need to quarantine in response to the coronavirus with housing alternatives, such as dorms, hotels, and trailers.
  • On April 7 Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 129, which gives flexibility for law enforcement training schedules during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • On April 6 a group of North Carolina experts released a model providing guidance and estimates concerning the state’s current social distancing measures.

 

Additional Resources

Message from Governor Bev Perdue

Former NC Governor and public-school teacher, Bev Perdue, wrote an op-ed piece calling for the state to follow the lead of teachers who continue to adjust to online teaching and learning. Governor Perdue states that inequities are currently at the forefront, and technology is not only essential now but will continue to be essential for all students following this pandemic. Click here to read the full article.

Please remember that North Carolina still owes school districts $730 million in school technology funds per a 2008 fines and forfeitures court judgement.

 

John Locke Foundation Online Education Discussion

On Monday, April 6 the John Locke Foundation hosted a virtual discussion about COVID-19 and online education. Lauren Acome, Head of NC Virtual Academy (a K-12 charter school with 2,700 students from 97 counties), and Catherine Truitt, the Republican candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction and Chancellor of Western Governors University NC, were both part of the discussion.

The conversation centered around modernization and innovation of teaching in K-12 public schools. Acome explained that schools need to embrace technology and digital learning and gave advice on how parents can help their students during this time of online learning: create a schedule, designate a workspace, set daily and weekly goals, have students show parents work, and be patient with the online process. Truitt expressed the need for equal access to internet and devices, as well as the use of technology for individualized learning. To read more and to watch the discussion, click here.

 

 

 

 

Leanne E. Winner
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6686

Bruce Mildwurf
Associate Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6692

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6677

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6688

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Alert – April 9, 2020

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