NCSBA Legislative Update – October 29, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – October 29, 2021

 

Budget Negotiations

On Tuesday, House Speaker Tim Moore said that there is a possibility of a budget vote as soon as next week, but Senate leadership stated just a few days later that a budget compromise is unlikely to occur by next week. Governor Roy Cooper addressed the budget during Tuesday’s Teacher Advisory Committee meeting, explaining that disagreement on education funding is one of the reasons for ongoing budget negotiations with Republican legislative leadership. Cooper noted forces working against public education, including attacks on curriculum and diversion of funds to unaccountable private school vouchers. While he is frustrated about not having a budget, Cooper said he does not want a bad budget that hurts education.

Budget disagreements are credited to education, healthcare, and taxes, but agreements have been reached on a majority of issues, including broadband and higher education construction projects. These announcements follow last week’s budget counteroffer from Republican legislative leaders and the first in-person budget negotiation meeting between legislative majority and minority leaders and the governor.

 

The Governor’s Teacher Advisory Committee met on Tuesday to hear remarks from Governor Cooper (which can be found in the previous section), updates on the implementation of the Leandro Plan, and updates from the DRIVE Task Force (Developing a Representative and Inclusive Vision for Education).

Following Governor Cooper’s remarks on budget negotiations, Committee members voiced concerns about their own districts, including a teacher from Gaston County who said that there are 62 teacher openings in his district with zero applicants. Additionally, a teacher from Clinton City explained that mandatory educator trainings are cutting into weekends and personal time to the point that teachers are getting burnt out. Cooper acknowledged these issues and explained that teachers are leaving the profession for multiple reasons, including risks due to COVID-19 and lack of salary increases, which show the importance of investing more in public education.

The Committee meeting closed with member discussion, which included concern over the lack of certain stakeholders present in the Committee meetings. Specifically, there was a call to be more intentional about including State legislators because of the need for legislative action to implement the Leandro Plan. Click here for an article on the meeting that includes more on Committee member discussion. Click here to access the meeting agenda and materials.

 

This week the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) added a new FAQ related to K-12 schools and masks (on page 3). The updated guidance no longer recommends that school districts require all students and staff to wear masks in schools, but instead recommends mask mandates in communities with high or substantial rates of COVID-19 transmission. Communities with moderate to low levels of transmission can consider making masks optional for vaccinated individuals. When community transmission is at low levels, masks can be optional for everyone.

The updated guidance recommends that school districts base their mask requirements on county transmission rates, as defined by the CDC, which shows that all but two NC counties remain in the “high” and “substantial” categories. According to the CDC’s county map, Hyde County has low transmission rates and Nash County has moderate transmission rates (as of Friday afternoon).

In the new FAQ, DHHS notes that it will continue to reevaluate its COVID-19 guidance as more school-aged children become eligible for and receive the vaccine, which may be as early as the end of next week, according to a press release from Governor Cooper’s office. The press release says that more than 750 locations across the State are preparing to provide the vaccine to children 5 to 11 years old. Before the vaccine can be administered to this age group, the CDC needs to complete its review process, following Tuesday’s announcement by the FDA’s independent advisory panel recommending the use of Pfizer’s vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old.

 

Since last week’s update, six school boards across the State switched from a mandatory mask policy to a mask optional policy. Now, 13 school districts allow masks to be optional and 102 require masks.

NCSBA continues to track local school boards’ policies on school mask requirements as districts vote monthly on whether to modify their current policy (required by Section 10 of SB 654/SL 2021-130). Click here to access a chart of school board actions. If your school district changes its mask policy or you have corrections to the chart, please email information to Richard Bostic at rbostic@ncsba.org.

 

Last week we released our first edition of the NCSBA 2021 Legislative Summary. We will update the Summary as education-related bills become law, and we will also include all education-related budget provisions that become law.

Click here to access the NCSBA 2021 Legislative Summary. The Legislative Summary can also be accessed by going to this NCSBA webpage and clicking Annual Legislative Summaries, which will take you to a webpage that includes a link to the 2021 Summary, as well as past legislative summaries.

Additionally, click here for a chart that lists the status of education-related bills.

 

Monday, November 1

2:00 pm – House Redistricting Committee – Legislative Offices Building, rm 643 (live stream)

Wednesday, November 3

9:00 am – Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations, Subcommittee on Use and Distribution on Federal COVID Funding – Legislative Building Auditorium (live stream)

Additional Education-Related Meeting

The State Board of Education will meet for its monthly meeting and fall planning session on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday next week.

 

 

 

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 – October 29, 2021