NCSBA Legislative Update – November 19, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – November 19, 2021

 

State Budget

After months of waiting, we finally have a State budget, SB 105: 2021 Appropriations Act/SL 2021-180. On Monday, a conference budget report was released, followed by bipartisan passage in the Senate (41-7) and the House (101-10). The budget was then quickly signed into law by the governor on Thursday afternoon.

This State budget enacts an average 5% raise over the biennium for teachers and most school employees and also provides bonuses. Noncertified school employees will receive a $13/hour minimum wage in the 2021-2022 fiscal year and a $15/hour minimum wage in the 2022-2023 fiscal year. There is an ADM hold harmless provision for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, as well as the creation of the new Public School Building Repair and Renovation Fund that will benefit all school districts. For more information on education-related provisions included in the State budget, click here to access NCSBA’s summaries.

The release and approval of this State budget follows roughly three months of conference committee negotiations, which included almost two months of private negotiations between Republican legislative leaders and Democratic Governor Roy Cooper. Despite a budget agreement not being reached with the governor, when announcing that he would sign the budget into law, Governor Cooper explained that it is because the good outweighs the bad. Following his signing of the budget, the governor stated, “I will continue to fight for progress where this budget falls short but believe that, on balance, it is an important step in the right direction.”

The total General Fund allocation is:

  • $25.9 billion in FY 2021-2022 (4.3% increase)
  • $27 billion in FY 2022-2023 (4.1% increase from FY 2021-2022)

For K-12 public education, the conference budget report appropriates:

  • $10.6 billion in FY 2021-2022 (5.9% increase)
  • $10.9 billion in FY 2022-2023 (3.1% increase from FY 2021-2022)

Click here for NCSBA’s summaries of the budget’s education provisions.
Click here for NCSBA’s summary of the budget’s education appropriations.
Click here for the budget bill.
Click here for the budget money report.

The Governmental Relations Team is working on a more in-depth summary of every education-related budget provision, which we will share with you in the coming weeks. Click here and here for articles on the budget.

HB 91: Accountability and Fair Play in Athletics

A conference report for HB 91: Accountability and Fair Play in Athletics passed the Senate (41-7) and the House (71-43) and has been sent to the Governor. This bill requires the State Board of Education (SBE) to either enter into a memorandum of understanding with a nonprofit to administer high school interscholastic athletics (which could be the NC High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) but is not required to be) or assign administration to DPI. The conference report removed multiple sections that were in the previous version of the bill, including a requirement that public school units (PSUs) submit an annual interscholastic athletic report and restrictions on enrollments and transfers.

Authors of the bill (Senators Vickie Sawyer, R-Iredell; Todd Johnson, R-Union; and Tom McInnis, R-Richmond) say that HB 91 is a result of an ongoing investigation into the NCHSAA over the past two years concerning lack of transparency. The presentation and passage of this conference report follows meetings between representatives of the NCHSAA, the SBE, Governor Cooper, and legislators from both parties. Additionally, the NCHSAA did not express opposition to the passage of HB 91.

Bill Chart

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

 

On Wednesday, November 10, Superior Court Judge David Lee held a hearing on the Leandro case and ordered the transfer of over $1.7 billion from the unappropriated balance in the General Fund to fund the Leandro Comprehensive Remedial Plan. This order follows the plaintiffs’ November 1st request that Judge Lee order this fund transfer and the defendants’ November 8th response that confirmed the availability of the funds. (Note: Defendants are represented by Attorney General Josh Stein’s office.)

Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore released a joint statement saying “This case has devolved into an attempt by politically allied lawyers and the Governor to enact the Governor’s preferred budget plan via court order, cutting out the legislature from its proper and constitutional role.” Click here and here for articles on the hearing, lawmakers’ responses, and what future action might be taken. Click here for a chart from NC Policy Watch that outlines how the State budget aligns with the Leandro Plan.

 

There have been many changes to local school boards’ mask policies over the past two weeks. 31 school districts allow masks to be optional (four have pending effective dates) and seven districts allow masks to be optional with certain stipulations (see map below for more information). This leaves 77 school districts that continue to require masks. For comparison, two weeks ago, 20 districts allowed masks to be optional, two districts had optional policies with certain stipulations, and 93 districts had mask mandates.

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 at NCSBA’s Annual Conference, the Delegate Assembly voted to approve the 2022 NCSBA Legislative Agenda. This Agenda is an amended version of the 2021 NCSBA Legislative Agenda. Usually, NCSBA creates one legislative agenda for the two-year legislative session, but due to the unprecedented circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, NCSBA’s Legislative Committee decided it would be best to have the option to make modifications to the 2021 Agenda prior to the 2022 legislative session.

The 2022 Agenda includes a new section titled “Virtual Instruction”, new language on waivers and ADM hold harmless, and a few minor word changes. The following are the Agenda’s priorities:

  1. COVID-19
  2. Pandemic Learning Loss
  3. Virtual Instruction
  4. Accountability
  5. School Construction/Capital
  6. School Safety
  7. Recruiting and Retaining Top Talent
  8. Early Learning
  9. Administrator Ethics Training
  10. Local Charter School Funding/Relations

Click here to access the 2022 NCSBA Legislative Agenda.

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – November 19, 2021