NCSBA Legislative Update – June 4, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – June 4, 2021

 

State Budget Process

There is less than a month until the start of the new fiscal year, and we still do not have an initial version of the budget for the 2021-2023 biennium. Traditionally, the House and Senate alternate starting the biennial budget process, and this session it is the Senate’s turn. We usually see the first chamber’s budget proposal by late April or early May, followed by the second chamber’s proposal by early to mid-June. News outlets quote Senate leader Phil Berger as saying he is ready to proceed with mini budgets that will be released by mid-June. This mini budget method is what the legislature has relied on since the last new budget was released in 2018.

At the end of Thursday’s House session, Speaker Tim Moore stated that the House will create its own budget if the Senate budget process does not begin moving forward. Representative Jason Saine, Senior Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, also said that there will be a House budget and that member input will be sought. The House held its first round of budget hearings this week and will have more hearings next week, with the House Appropriations Committee on Education meeting on Tuesday, June 8, at 8:30 am. The full House Appropriations Committee will also meet next week on Wednesday, June 9, at 9:00 am.

The House Appropriations Committee on Education met on Tuesday this week and received a presentation on State Board of Education (SBE) and DPI budget requests. The presentation notes modifications in budget requests that emphasize the use of available federal COVID-19 relief funds, while preserving State funds. Click here for an article on the presentation. The following are budget requests outlined in the presentation:

  • Addressing statewide learning challenges and recovery (science of reading training, school turnaround, etc.)
  • Student wellbeing and school safety
  • Education workforce development (teacher and principal recruitment and retention)
  • School business modernization
  • Connecting middle/high school students to post-secondary and career opportunities

Additionally, during Tuesday’s Council of State meeting, Governor Roy Cooper issued a public reminder to both the House and Senate that he needs to be involved in these ongoing budget discussions, as he ultimately has to sign the budget into law. Cooper also mentioned spending figures that had been proposed by both the House and the Senate, but the proposals were not confirmed by either chamber. Click here for an article on the state budget process.

Education-Related Bills with Action This Week

HB 812: Clarify Remote Meetings During Emergencies (primary sponsors: Representatives Dean Arp, R-Union; Bobby Hanig, R-Currituck; Erin Pare, R-Wake; William Richardson, D-Cumberland) was approved by the Senate Judiciary and Rules committees and is on the Senate calendar for Monday, June 7.

HB 84: Sex Offender Premises Restrictions (primary sponsors: Representatives Harry Warren, R-Rowan; Allen McNeill, R-Randolph; Dennis Riddell, R-Alamance; Sarah Stevens, R-Surry) was approved by the Senate Judiciary and Rules committees and is on the Senate calendar for Monday, June 7.

HB 654 Statewide Contracts/Nonprofits for the Blind (primary sponsors: Representatives Jon Hardister, R-Guilford; Robert Reives, D-Chatham; Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth; John Bradford, R-Mecklenburg) was amended by the House on second reading to exempt political subdivisions (local governments).

HB 85: Cleveland Cty Bd. of Ed Vacancies (primary sponsors: Representatives Kelly Hastings, R-Gaston; Jason Saine, R-Lincoln) was modified and approved by the Senate Redistricting and Elections Committee and referred to the Senate Rules Committee.

Bill Chart

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

 

The SBE met for its monthly meeting on Wednesday and Thursday this week, hearing presentations on the following:

K-12 social studies supporting documents: Earlier this year the SBE voted 7-5 to approve the State’s new K-12 social studies standards, with the vote roughly split along party lines. While there were concerns about divisive language, there was also praise for inclusion of various historic experiences. This month, DPI presented the Board with the following K-12 social studies supporting documents:

  • K-12 glossary – definitions of primary terms and concepts that teachers need to know and understand to effectively teach the standards
  • K-12 crosswalks – reference tool that compares changes/differences between two sets of standards (previous standards vs. newly adopted standards)
  • K-12 strand maps – help ensure vertical progression of major concepts that students are expected to know by the end of each grade/course
  • K-5 unpacking documents (K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) – enhance teacher understanding of how to engage with the standards

These supporting documents are not requirements but rather resources and ideas to help teachers comprehensively address the required standards in their classroom curriculum. State Superintendent Catherine Truitt explained that most of her implemented changes to the supporting documents were to remove specificity from and add diversity to example topics. Additional modifications were requested, including a request for glossary term citations. Because of this request, the Board planned to wait until July to vote on the glossary. This postponement then led to discussion about delaying a vote for all supporting documents until the July meeting because of the use of glossary terms in the other supporting documents. Ultimately, the Board voted 8-2 to postpone a vote on all supporting documents to no later than June 18, which will require a called meeting. Click here for an article on the meeting and discussion. Click here for a presentation that provides snapshots of each supporting document. Additionally, the 6-12 unpacking documents are still being developed and will be presented at the July monthly meeting.

Literacy update and contract: The Board approved a three-year $14.5 million contract with Amplify to use mClass for Read to Achieve assessments. As a reminder, under the previous State Superintendent’s administration, the State switched from Amplify to Istation for its Read to Achieve assessment provider, which triggered a lawsuit that led to school districts choosing from multiple assessment tools for this past school year. DPI chose to not continue this multiple assessment tool option because of the lack of time and resources in being able to support districts at the State level and collect statewide data. Based on vendor evaluations, Amplify stood out because of its integrated literacy system based on the science of reading that measures all Read to Achieve legislative components. This contract approval follows the passage of SB 387: Excellent Public Schools Act of 2021/SL 2021-8 earlier this year, which requires the implementation of science of reading training into the Read to Achieve program. Click here for an article on the literacy update and contract.

ESSER III application template: The SBE approved the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) fund State application template. About two-thirds of ESSER III funds have already been allocated by the federal government, and the last third is subject to an application process. The application template is required to stay open for a 30-day public comment period, which is currently in progress, and DPI plans to submit a modified version based off public comment to the US Department of Education by June 21. The draft application template contains seven sections, including NC’s current status and needs, sustaining safe school operations, and planning for use and coordination of ARP ESSER funds. The Board will schedule a called meeting to review the final version of the application template prior to the June 21 submission.

DHHS COVID-19 update: The Board was presented with data showing improved statewide metrics, vaccine distribution rates showing that 19% of the State’s 12-17 year olds have been vaccinated, and a review of the face covering policy in schools. DHHS staff explained that the rationale behind still requiring masks in schools is that a majority of the school population is unvaccinated because vaccines have not been approved for younger children. Currently 0% of children under 12 have been vaccinated, but Pfizer is expected to submit data for authorization of 2-11 year olds to receive its vaccine in September. Board member Amy White expressed concerns about still requiring masks for children in schools when statistics show low infection, spread, and death rates in children. When asked what metrics will prompt DHHS to recommend that children do not need to wear masks in schools, staff stated that they will be looking at all metrics, including rate of transmission, rate of vaccine access for children, and risks versus benefits. The CDC continues to recommend mask mandates in schools, which was reiterated in a Wednesday press conference with Governor Cooper and DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen.

Click here to access all meeting materials.

 

Monday, June 7

5:30 pm – Senate Rules – Legislative Building, rm 1027/1128 (live stream)

Tuesday, June 8

8:30 am – House Appropriations, Education – Legislative Offices Building, rm 425 (no live stream)

1:00 pm – House Local Government – Legislative Building, rm 1228/1327 (live stream)

1:30 pm – House Education K-12 – Legislative Offices Building, rm 643 (live stream)

2:00 pm – House Pensions and Retirement – Legislative Offices Building, rm 415 (live stream)

 

 

 

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.org

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
rbostic@ncsba.org

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
rhoward@ncsba.org

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – June 4, 2021