NCSBA Legislative Update – May 21, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – May 21, 2021


After the past few weeks of nonstop legislative action and last week’s crossover deadline, this week at the legislature was relatively calm. The General Assembly released its list of 2021 non-revenue and non-appropriations bills that made crossover. Additionally, there were a few committee meetings and voting sessions, with one notable bill being presented to the Governor.

SB 172: Additional 2021 COVID-19 Response & Relief (primary sponsors: Senators Brent Jackson, R-Sampson; Kathy Harrington, R-Gaston; Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell) passed the House 100-2, the Senate concurred with the House changes, and the bill now awaits the Governor’s signature. SB 172 appropriates COVID-19 relief funds, including $3.2 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III (ESSER III) funds included in the American Rescue Plan. This is the 90% of ESSER III funds that go directly to public school units (PSUs), while the other 10% goes to DPI. 20% of the PSU funds are required to address learning loss, and they expire on September 30, 2024. Additionally, SB 172 ensures that each PSU receives at least $400 per student in federal grant funds and includes supplemental IDEA funds (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).

Another education-related bill with action this week is HB 947: the G.R.E.A.T. Broadband Expansion Act (primary sponsors: Representatives Dean Arp, R-Union; Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth; Jason Saine, R-Lincoln; Jake Johnson, R-Polk). This bill makes changes to the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (G.R.E.A.T.) program and creates a process to utilize federal COVID-19 relief funds for the program. During the House Appropriations Committee hearing, bill sponsor Representative Dean Arp stated that “we will be able to start broadband in all 100 counties by the end of this year.” HB 947 has been referred to the House Rules Committee.

Bill Chart

Click here for a chart of all education-related bills that NCBSA is tracking.


On Thursday, the Joint Legislative Committee on Governmental Operations Subcommittee on Interscholastic Athletics held its second meeting on its investigation into the NC High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA). The Thursday meeting consisted of discussion and questioning of:

  • State Superintendent Catherine Truitt on the State Board of Education’s (SBE) and DPI’s relationship with NCHSAA
  • Former Vice Chair of the SBE Buddy Collins on his concerns about NCHSAA while on the Board
  • Union County Board of Education Chair Melissa Merrell on NCHSAA’s local level impact

Invited attendees and Subcommittee members agreed on the need for more financial transparency within the NCHSAA and improvement on the process of handling student concerns and complaints. As a reminder, the first meeting of the Subcommittee included questioning of NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker about the Association’s assets of more than $40 million, the competitive imbalance in 1A athletics, and the Association’s service to its member schools. Click here to access an article on the meeting, which includes video testimony.


On Wednesday, the Governor released his recommendations on how the State should spend $5.7 billion in federal American Rescue Plan funds. The recommendations include $300 million for the State to meet its constitutional obligation of providing a sound, basic education to each student. To meet this obligation, the Governor recommends:

  • $65.3 million to build the teacher pipeline
  • $75 million for literacy coaches
  • $101.8 million for early childhood education, including expansion of NC Pre-K
  • $57.9 million for home-based early literacy development

Additionally, $1.2 billion is recommended to close the digital divide by expanding broadband access. The legislature has not yet indicated how it plans to appropriate this $5.7 billion in federal funds. Click here to view all the recommendations. Click here for an article on the education-related recommendations.


On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visited Bright Beginnings Child Development Center in Cary, NC. Cardona was joined by Governor Roy Cooper, State Superintendent Catherine Truitt, and DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen. The group discussed the importance of early childhood education with parents and teachers, and Cardona explained President Biden’s American Families Plan, which includes free Pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds. The Plan calls for $1.8 trillion in federal funds to be invested in education, childcare, and paid family leave. Cardona stated that “it costs more not to do this”, noting that early childhood education increases students’ ability to succeed in school. Click here for an article on the Secretary’s visit.


No education-related meetings posted as of 12:00 pm Friday, May 21.




Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – May 21, 2021

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