NCSBA Legislative Update – July 21, 2023

NCSBA Legislative Update – July 21, 2023

At 1:22pm this afternoon, Governor Cooper used the veto stamp for the 14th time this legislative session on HB219: Charter School Omnibus.  In his veto message for HB219, Governor Cooper said, “This bill allowing more students to attend failing charter schools risks their education and their future. The State Board of Education should continue to oversee the enrollment growth of charter schools to assure success.”

Key provisions of the final bill passed by the General Assembly include:

  • 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
  • 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 (Veto override vote now scheduled for Monday, August 7)
  • 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

Meanwhile, two blocks away, cool air coming through the air conditioning vents was the only thing circulating at the NC General Assembly this week. Both the House and the Senate held skeletal sessions with no recorded votes and there were no committee meetings. Budget negotiations between the two chambers are ongoing. Estimates as to when the budget may be completed vary from the middle of August to well after Labor Day. One of the primary points of disagreement remains the size of the tax cut.

Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) announced during Thursday’s skeletal session of the House that there will be no votes for the next two weeks. As such, two of the education-related veto override votes – HB 618: Charter School Review Board and HB 574: Fairness in Women’s Sports Act – have now been pushed back to Monday, August 7. Another vetoed bill SB49: Parents Bill of Rights has been referred to the Committee on Rules & Operations of the Senate but has not been calendared yet.

WRAL reported Thursday that SB 90, the controversial 26 page education bill we told you about last week will likely not come up again this session, per Speaker Moore. House education leaders planned to change the bill title from Searches of Student’s Person to Childrens Laws Omnibus. The bill was pulled shortly before last week’s committee meeting. One of the Education committee chairs indicated last week that he hoped to have the amended bill heard this week.
As we outlined in last Friday’s legislative update it included the following provisions:

  • 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.

However, as New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra was fond of saying, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” The NCSBA Governmental Relations Team will let you know if anything changes with SB90.  Click here for a copy of the amended bill and here for an official summary of it.

While the legislature is on a temporary hiatus, the wheels are still turning in other parts of state government. The Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission (PEPSC) met last week and voted down a proposed increase in teacher licensure fees. DPI sought the increases to help pay for increased staff capacity in responding to approximately 50,000 licensure and information requests per year. The proposed increase from DPI would have raised the fee for an in-state license from $70-$85 and an out-of-state license from $100 to $115. Commission members denied recommending the increase to the State Board of Education by a 9-3 vote. Had PEPSC approved the increase, it would have gone to the State Board of Education for approval.  Click here for an article regarding the PEPSC vote.

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

July 17, 2023 Headlines From the Weekly Report Include:

Education Cuts Proceed In Proposed Spending Bill: The House Labor, Health & Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee has approved its part of the annual spending bill. The measure passed on a party-line voice vote. It provides the Department of Education with $67.4 billion in new discretionary funding — a 15 percent reduction compared to this year. K-12 spending would see drastic losses. Title I cuts would amount to a $14.7 billion reduction in spending, leaving about $3.7 billion for Title I grants. The bill would also rescind more than $10 billion in K-12 education funding that was already approved by Congress and that states and schools are expecting this fall. The proposed education budget drafted by the Democratic-controlled Senate is expected to be vastly different.

FCC Announces $200M Pilot for School Cybersecurity: Federal Communications Commission Chair Jessica Rosenworcel has announced a pilot program of $200 million to help public schools strengthen their cybersecurity efforts. The three year program will harden cyber defenses while determining the best methods to further protect libraries and schools. “With the growing number of sophisticated cyberattacks on schools and especially the rise in malicious ransomware attacks that harm our students, now is the time to take action,” said Rosenworcel.

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

State News
EdNC: PEPSC Votes Against Increasing the Cost of Teacher Licensure Fees
EdNC: Perspective – State Board Chair and Vice-Chair Share Concerns About Parents Bill of Rights Statute
Carolina Journal: Lawmakers Move Forward On Bill Requiring Students to Have a Career Development Plan
WRAL: NC’s Controversial New Education Bill Likely Won’t Be Heard This Session, Speaker Says
WFAE: Confused By School Poverty Numbers? That’s Not Surprising
WUNC: Lawmakers Stay Out of Raleigh For Another Week As Budget, Overrides Remain
News & Observer: Agreement Reached On Pay NC Speaker Says. Here’s Why Raises Still Won’t Come Soon

National News
K-12 Dive: What Does the Looming ESSER Spending Deadline Mean for Teacher Shortages?
K-12 Dive: Labor Department Approves Registered Principal Apprenticeships
Foodservice Director: What’s On Tap For School Nutrition Legislation
Washington Post: Millions of Homes. Schools May Have To Eliminate Lead Dust Under EPA Plan
Washington Post: Red-State Education Restrictions Leave Textbook Publishers In a Bind

No 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 21, 2023