On Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Michael Robinson found that $785 million in State funds is needed “to properly fund years two and three” of the eight-year Leandro Comprehensive Remedial Plan. This announcement follows Robinson’s replacement of Superior Court Judge David Lee last month, and the State Supreme Court’s order that Robinson review Lee’s November 10, 2021, order prior to the Leandro case coming before the Supreme Court.
Lee’s order called for the transfer of over $1.7 billion from the unappropriated balance in the General Fund to fund the Plan. Robinson amended Lee’s order to instead call for $785 million, following an analysis of how much the State budget, which passed on November 18, 2021, funds the Plan. Robinson’s amended order also removes the requirement that the State Controller transfer the $1.7 billion from the General Fund, since that requirement had already been blocked by the State Court of Appeals.
SB 654/SL 2021-130 required the State Superintendent to create a Working Group on Virtual Academies that includes various stakeholders to make recommendations related to virtual academies. The Working Group’s report was submitted to the General Assembly in March. The report states that NC has been providing students with opportunities to access “high-quality, purposeful virtual learning” for over 20 years, and that schools are currently using virtual instruction to meet the needs of families.
The following are highlights from the report:
- The number of fully virtual academies in the State has increased from 11 in the 2019-2020 school year to 61 in the 2021-2022 school year
- The number of hybrid virtual academies has increased from 25 in the 2019-2020 school year to 45 in the 2021-2022 school year
The following are Working Group recommendations:
- Allow school districts that do not have a virtual academy but wish to develop one to apply for a school code
- (SB 654/SL 2021-130 prevents a school that did not have a school code to operate a virtual academy prior to May 1, 2021, from continuing to use virtual instruction after June 30, 2022)
- Virtual academies established in a traditional K-12 school should be viewed the same as other schools within that district and should not be required to renew their school status
- All courses taken in a virtual format should be coded to allow performance tracking, including courses taken virtually through an in-person school or through a virtual school
Last Friday, Governor Roy Cooper announced that $5 million in federal funds will be used to expand Youth Mental Health First Aid training. This training teaches adults who work with youth, including teachers and school staff, how to identify and support youth ages 12-18 who are experiencing challenges related to mental health and substance use.
Kody H. Kinsley, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, said “Recovering stronger together from this pandemic means prioritizing behavioral health and the well-being of our children and families. We are grateful for this investment in both areas, which supports early intervention programs that will make a critical difference in many teenagers’ lives.”
Additional federal funds will be used to expand the Tech Team initiative, which trains students on how to address information technology issues, and the NC Education Corps, which is helping to accelerate learning recovery for public school students through high-impact literacy tutoring.
On Monday, the bipartisan Hunt-Lee Commission released its final report that contains 16 recommendations to improve public education in the State, including growing the school leader pipeline and bridging student transitions from middle to high school.
The Hunt-Lee Commission was created by the Hunt Institute in August 2021 to “address stark differences in student outcomes, many of which have been made worse by the pandemic.” The Commission is named after four-term NC Governor James B. Hunt, Jr. and Institute Board members (former) NC Senator Howard Lee and NC Senator Michael Lee.
The report’s recommendations fall into three categories:
- Build on what we have
- Invite and test new ideas
- Implement proven solutions
In just 2 ½ weeks, the 2022 legislative short session will begin. Because of the late passage of the State budget in November 2021, we do not expect there to be too many modifications to the budget during the session. However, NCSBA’s Governmental Relations Team is pushing for the following during this legislative session:
- Additional mental health support personnel
- Flexibility with the new school psychologist allotment for school districts that are unable to recruit and hire school psychologists
- Funding for recently approved cooperative innovative high schools
- Salary increases to keep up with rising inflation
- Additional teacher assistants to improve K-3 literacy and address learning loss caused by the pandemic
- Average daily membership (ADM) hold harmless
- Continued use of remote/virtual instruction
- More local control over the school calendar
If you have a legislative priority for the short session that is not included on this list, please contact Bruce Mildwurf at firstname.lastname@example.org.
House Select Committee on An Education System for North Carolina’s Future
On Monday, the Committee held a meeting at Morehead City Primary School in Carteret County. Click here for the Carteret County Schools Superintendent’s presentation and click here for a recording of the meeting.
Both the House and Senate will hold session on Wednesday, May 4, but we do not expect any activity.
Additional Education Meeting
On Wednesday, May 4, and Thursday, May 5, the State Board of Education will have its monthly meeting. Click here for the meeting live stream.
Please note that we may not be sending legislative updates on a weekly basis while the General Assembly is not in session.
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association