NCSBA Legislative Update – July 14, 2023

NCSBA Legislative Update – July 14, 2023

It was a relatively light week at the NC General Assembly. In the Senate, skeletal sessions were held with no recorded votes as most Senators weren’t even in Raleigh. Negotiations on a state budget are continuing. However, NCSBA has been told by budget writers that the budget is unlikely to be finalized this month.

The light legislative week didn’t provide a respite from House members trying to move forward with an extremely controversial education bill. SB 90: Searches of Student’s Person was scheduled to be heard in the House K-12 Education Committee meeting on Wednesday, July 12.

Late Tuesday evening, House Education K-12 Committee members received an amended version of the bill. It went from a one part, two paragraph bill to 16 parts and 26 pages. Provisions include:

  • Open enrollment – Districts would be forced to accept students from other districts. Charging tuition would be prohibited. In some cases, out of district students will be given priority in a school over students who live in the district.
  • Requires termination or significant pay reduction of local superintendents if five parents obtain affidavits showing their fundamental right to parent was violated.

The bill was posted to the committee website, but it was never formally introduced. The bill was pulled from the committee’s agenda shortly before the meeting started. NCSBA has learned there are efforts to bring the bill back before the committee. The timing is unclear, but it could be as soon as next week. The GR team will stay on top of this issue and will keep you updated. Click here for an official summary of the amended bill.

Just like the waves on Wrightsville Beach, the gubernatorial vetoes keep rolling in this summer. The latest bill to get the Governor’s stamp of disapproval is HB 618: Charter School Review Board. The legislation moves the charter school approval process away from the State Board of Education to a Charter School Review Board, the majority of whose appointments are controlled by the legislature.

In his veto message, Governor Cooper said, “The North Carolina Constitution clearly gives the State Board of Education oversight authority for public schools, including charter schools. This bill is a legislative power grab that turns responsibility over to a commission of political friends and extremists appointed by Republican legislators, making it more likely that faulty or failing charter schools will be allowed to operate and shortchange their students.”

The House had initially planned to conduct veto override votes on Wednesday, July 12, pertaining to multiple bills, namely  HB 618: Charter School Review Board and HB 574: Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. However, these votes were subsequently removed from the House calendar and have been rescheduled for Wednesday, July 19. Additionally, the Governor’s veto of SB 49: Parents’ Bill of Rights still remains in the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate.

Throughout this legislative session, the Governor has vetoed a total of 13 bills. Out of these 13 bills, nine have undergone a veto override vote, with all of them being successfully overridden.

Statewide Education Bills Signed by Governor Since Last Week’s Update
HB 605: School Threat Assessment Teams (primary sponsors: Representatives John Torbett, R-Gaston; Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke; Tricia Cotham, R-Mecklenburg)

  • Established threat assessment teams in public school units (PSUs)
  • Establishes peer-to-peer counseling in PSUs
  • Clarifies that the Department of Public Instruction shall participate in the adoption of policies regarding placement and contents of school crisis kits in PSUs
  • Expands law enforcement access from only traditional public schools to all PSUs
  • Expands data collection requirements regarding school safety exercises from only traditional public schools to all PSUs
  • Click here for an official bill summary

Statewide Education Bills Vetoed by Governor Since Last Week’s Update

HB 618: Charter School Review Board (primary sponsors: Representatives Tricia Cotham, R-Mecklenburg; Tim Moore, R-Cleveland; Destin Hall, R-Caldwell; David Willis, R-Union)

  • Similar to section 7.39 in the House Budget
  • Converts the Charter Schools Advisory Board into the Charter Schools Review Board
  • Shifts authority to approve or deny charters from the State Board of Education to a legislatively controlled (8 of 11 appointments) Review Board with a right of appeal by an applicant, charter school, or the State Superintendent to the State Board of Education
  • Changes the Superintendent of Public Instruction from a voting member to a nonvoting member
  • Click here for an official bill summary

Statewide Education Bills Sent to Governor

HB 219: Charter School Omnibus Act (primary sponsors Representatives John Torbett, R-Gaston; John Bradford, R-Mecklenburg; David Willis, R-Union; and Jason Saine, R-Lincoln)

  • House voted to concur 61-41 with Senate changes
  • Prohibits any consideration of the impact to an LEA when deciding whether to grant, renew, amend, or terminate a charter
  • Removes restrictions of student enrollment growth for charters that are not low-performing
  • Allows SBE to consider whether a low-performing charter school can increase their enrollment greater than 20%
  • Allows charter schools to admit out-of-state students and foreign exchange students if it is unable to meet its enrollment capacity with qualified in-state students
  • Allows pre-lottery admissions to charters for (i) certain preschools with agreements with the charter and (ii) children of active-duty military
  • Prohibits local boards of education from considering a student’s current or prior enrollment in a charter school in determining admissions or eligibility to any school or special program .
  • Allows counties to appropriate funds for property taxes to fund charter school capital needs.
  • Amended in the Senate to include:
  • Establishes a pilot program to allow Central Park Schools for Children in Durham to expand the weighted lottery to include factors to assist educationally or economically disadvantaged students, including walk zones
  • Provides for conforming changes if House Bill 618 – Charter School Review Board becomes law
  • Removes a high school athletics provision that would have prohibited charter and private schools from competing in the 1A playoffs against traditional public schools
  • Click here for the latest bill summary

Bills Passed By House Committees

SB 193: Career Development Plans (primary sponsors: Senators Amy Galey, R-Alamance; Michael Lee, R-New Hanover)

  • Passed by Education K-12 Committee
  • Requires middle and high school students to complete career development plans by the end of 7th grade and revise those plans by the end of 10th grade
  • Requires DPI to study the creation of individual graduation plans for students
  • Requires the State Board of Education to establish a pilot with at least 20 LEAs during the 2023-24 school year with a statewide rollout in 2024-25
  • Click here for an official bill summary

The following is the Consortium of State School Boards Association’s (COSSBA) most recent federal education report.

July 10, 2023 Weekly Report

USDA Provides $1.3 Billion For School Meals: The US Department of Agriculture is providing $1.3 billion to states  for the purchase of domestic foods to be distributed to schools. The additional funding is needed to address elevated food and labor costs that will continue to affect school meal programs into the 2023-24 school year, when schools will lose the added, temporary financial support Congress had authorized for the 2022-23 school year in the bipartisan Keep Kids Fed Act of 2022. North Carolina’s portion of that funding is $35.2 million.

The following are recent news articles, reports, and press releases on state and national education-related issues.

State News
EdNC: NC School Superintendents Association Announces Leadership Awards
North State Journal: Saine Talks Long Session, Biggest Bills and Keeping It Running
WRAL: New NC School Bill Would Give Parents More Power To Challenge School Leaders’ Choices
WRAL: Bill To OK Tax Money For Charter School Construction Clears NC Legislature
NC Newsline: July Surprise. GOP Lawmakers Unveil Sweeping Bill To Remake Public Education in NC

National News
K-12 Dive: FCC Chair Proposes $200M Investment To Boost K-12 Cybersecurity
K-12 Dive: Students Need Over 4 Months Of Extra Learning To Return To Pre-Pandemic Math, Reading Achievement
Medicaid.Gov: CMS Launches School Based Services Technical Assistance Center
New York Times: US Students Progress Stagnated Last School Year Study Finds
Washington Post: How To Fix Damage Done To Schools By Federal School Reform Laws

No education-related committee meetings have been scheduled at this time.
Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
NC School Boards Association

Madison Skeens
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
NC School Boards Association

Rob Black
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
NC School Boards Association

Christina DavoileNCSBA Legislative Update – July 14, 2023