Rebekah Howard

NCSBA Legislative Update – June 11, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – June 11, 2021

 

State Budget Process

After months of disagreement, Republican legislative leaders have agreed on a spending target for the two-year budget:

  • $25.7 billion for the 2021-2022 fiscal year (3.45% increase)
  • $26.7 billion for the 2022-2023 fiscal year (3.65% increase)

This spending target contrasts with the Governor’s proposed budget:

  • $27.3 billion for the 2021-2022 fiscal year (10% increase)
  • $28.7 billion for the 2022-2023 fiscal year (4.9% increase)

In their joint statement, House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger said that their budget will not include a bond or Medicaid expansion (both of which are included in the Governor’s proposed budget) but will include at least $4.2 billion of new capital spending through the State Capital and Infrastructure Fund. Senate leaders have not yet provided K-12 public education funding amounts and line items, like school personnel pay. As a reminder, teacher pay was one of the main reasons for the 2019 budget stalemate between legislative leaders and the Governor, ultimately leading to no official State budget for these past two fiscal years.

This announcement on a spending target is just the beginning in creating a comprehensive budget. The legislature is over a month behind its normal budget process, which means that the new two-year budget has a high chance of not passing before the start of the new fiscal year on July 1. Senator Berger provided an anticipated budget timeline to the media: the Senate budget will be released during the week of June 21 and the House will release its budget between mid-July and early August, followed by one to two weeks of negotiations. Senator Berger also expects to wrap up this legislative session in August, but his draft timeline does not account for Governor Cooper’s budget actions. Despite the delay in the budget process, the State government will not shut down on July 1 because State statute allows the government to operate on the previous year’s budget until a new budget is signed into law.

Click here for an article of the budget spending agreement.

The legislature’s plan to spend less than the Governor frees up revenue availability for a tax cut. On Thursday, the Senate approved HB 334: JOBS Grants and Tax Relief, which cuts General Fund revenues by $644.5 million in the 2021-2022 fiscal year and $1.5 billion in the 2022-2023 fiscal year. The major components of the Senate tax plan are as follows:

  • Reduction of the personal income tax rate from 5.25% to 4.99%
  • Increase in the standard deduction of $2,000 per person
  • Increase in the child deduction of $500
  • Phase out of the corporate income tax over five years beginning in 2024
  • Change in the computation of the franchise tax

Education-Related Bills with Action This Week

Statewide Bills

SB 654: K-12 COVID-19 Provisions (primary sponsors: Senators Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Don Davis, D-Pitt; Michael Lee, R-New Hanover) was modified and passed by the House 74-34 and is scheduled for a Senate concurrence vote on Monday, June 14, but the Senate is not expected to concur with the House changes. The following House committee modifications lengthened the bill from eight to 20 pages:

  • Combines the House’s virtual learning bill with the Senate’s virtual learning language:
    • Allows no more than 10% of total student enrollment in a LEA to be enrolled in a virtual academy, beginning in the 2021-2022 school year (HB 644)
      • Removes the ability to provide virtual instruction unless a LEA has a virtual academy with its own school code (except as provided in the following three bullets)
    • Public school units (PSUs) with good cause waivers can use up to 15 days or 90 hours of remote instruction for severe weather and other emergencies
      • All other PSUs can use up to 5 days or 30 hours
    • PSUs can provide remote instruction to address health and safety concerns related to COVID-19 during the upcoming school year
  • Delays the implementation of social studies standard course of study changes by one year
    • An amendment by Representative Julie von Haefen, D-Wake, to remove this section failed 46-61 on the House floor
  • Modifies the implementation of kindergarten class size requirements for the 2021-2022 school year
  • Clarifies teacher licensure education requirements
  • Modifies one of the definitions of a year-round school by requiring students to attend four quarters of between 43 and 47 instructional days (was 45) each school year, with 14 to 18 vacation days (was 15) between each quarter
  • Directs the use of the $360 million 10% DPI reserve in Elementary and Second School Emergency Relief III (ESSER III) funds, including:
    • $10 million to contract with the State Education Assistance Authority, which is responsible for administering school vouchers, to provide $1,000 grants to students in low-income households
      • Before these grants are administered, DPI must confirm that the use is consistent with federal guidelines
    • $37.5 million for teacher and principal professional development in the science of reading
    • $17 million to provide contracted school health support services
    • $21 million to contract with a third-party entity to mitigate cyberbullying, monitor student internet activity, and assist with suicide prevention services
    • $100 million to provide teachers with up to an eleventh month salary

Additionally, SB 654 does the following:

  • Waives school performance grades, report cards, and low-performing school identification for the upcoming school year based on 2020-2021 school year data
  • Continues the principal recruitment supplement for the 2021-2022 school year
  • Allows seniors to graduate in 2021 without completing CPR instruction
  • Extends exam requirements for teachers seeking a continuing professional license from June 30, 2021, to September 30, 2021
  • Adds another definition of a year-round school: allows a single-track school to operate on the same multi-track schedule of another school in that LEA

Click here for an official bill summary. Click here for an article on SB 654.

HB 64: Government Transparency Act of 2021 was gutted and amended by the Senate Judiciary Committee and approved by the Senate Rules Committee. This bill requires local boards of education (as well as counties, municipalities, community colleges, State agencies, etc.) to not only maintain the date and general description of the reasons for each promotion, but also for each demotion, transfer, suspension, separation, or dismissal. An employee can appeal to not have the date and description of their promotion, demotion, etc. disclosed if the information is protected by an applicable confidentiality law, like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or the American with Disabilities Act. Click here for an official bill summary. HB 64 is the same as SB 355 but with a slight modification. SB 355’s primary sponsor Senator Norman Sanderson, R-Pamlico, stated that he would add his bill to an eligible bill, since SB 355 did not make the crossover deadline. NCSBA previously expressed our concerns about the bill with Senator Sanderson, specifically about suspensions and transfers.

SB 582: High School Adjunct Instructors/CC Prep (primary sponsors: Senators Jim Burgin, R-Harnett; Kevin Corbin, R-Macon) passed the House 108-0 and was presented to the Governor. This bill allows higher education faculty members to qualify as adjunct instructors for K-12 core academic subjects, fine and performing arts, and foreign language courses if they meet State Board of Education criteria (currently can only teach K-12 core academic subjects). It also allows an individual who holds a bachelor’s or graduate degree, attends a community college or educator preparation program, and completes at least one semester of teacher preparation to contract with a LEA to teach high-school level courses related to the individual’s specialized knowledge or work experience. Click here for an official bill summary. Following the approval of SB 582 in the House Education K-12 Committee, TeachNC provided a presentation on teacher recruitment.

HB 812: Clarify Remote Meetings During Emergencies (primary sponsors: Representatives Dean Arp, R-Union; Bobby Hanig, R-Currituck; Erin Pare, R-Wake; William Richardson, D-Cumberland) passed the Senate 48-0 and was sent to the Governor. This bill clarifies the authorization of remote open meetings during emergencies. It allows a public body to change a meeting notice to be a remote meeting at least six hours before the start of the meeting and include how the public can access the remote meeting. Click here for an official bill summary.

SB 668: Anti-Pension Spiking Amds & Litig. Moratorium (primary sponsor: Senator Jim Burgin, R-Harnett) was modified and approved by the House Pensions and Retirement Committee and referred to the House Rules Committee. This bill does the following:

  • Adds another payment option: 12 years with no early pay-off penalty
  • In certain situations, two or more employers will share the liability
  • Creates a working group consisting of NCSBA and the State Treasurer’s office to develop recommendations to the General Assembly that will reduce pension spiking cases and lawsuits
  • Requires a pause on pension-spiking litigation until June 30, 2022, during which the working group will create its recommendations
    • As a result of this pause, the statute of limitations will be extended
    • During the pause, the Treasurer’s office is not allowed to intercept funds that would have otherwise been directed to a LEA

Click here for an official bill summary.

SB 722: Revise Local Gov’t Redistricting/Census (primary sponsors: Senators Warren Daniel, R-Burke; Paul Newton, R-Cabarrus; Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell) was modified and approved by the House Rules Committee, passed the House 107-0, and was sent to the Senate for concurrence with the House changes. Because of the delay in receiving 2020 census data and limited time for municipalities to redraw districts, this bill delays affected 2021 municipal elections. The House Rules Committee added the Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Lexington City boards of education to the bill to allow for a delay in 2021 elections until 2022. Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 84: Sex Offender Premises Restrictions (primary sponsors: Representatives Harry Warren, R-Rowan; Allen McNeill, R-Randolph; Dennis Riddell, R-Alamance; Sarah Stevens, R-Surry) passed the Senate, the House did not concur, and a conference committee has been appointed.

Local Bills

HB 85: Cleveland Cty Bd. of Ed Vacancies (primary sponsors: Representatives Kelly Hastings, R-Gaston; Jason Saine, R-Lincoln) passed the Senate, the House concurred with the Senate changes, and became SL 2021-28. This bill requires the Cleveland County Board of Education to fill a Board vacancy by appointing the recommendation of the county executive committee of the vacating member’s political party.

SB 288: Rutherford College/Bd. of Ed. Burke/Caldwell (primary sponsor: Senator Warren Daniel, R-Burke) was modified and approved by the House Local Government Committee and referred to the House Rules Committee.

Bill Chart

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

 

On Monday, Judge David Lee signed an order to implement the 52-page Comprehensive Remedial Plan that was submitted by the State Board of Education and DPI earlier this year, addressing the State’s constitutional obligation of providing every student with the opportunity to a sound, basic education.

The Monday order calls for the State to abide by its constitutional obligation by implementing the eight-year comprehensive remedial plan that currently costs $5.6 billion (some items do not yet include cost totals) and addresses the seven key areas outlined in the 2020 consent order and 2019 WestEd report:

  1. A high-quality teacher in each classroom
  2. A high-quality principal in each school
  3. A finance system that provides adequate, equitable, and predictable funding to school districts
  4. An accountability system that reliably assesses multiple measures of student performance
  5. An assistance and turnaround function to provide support to low-performing schools and districts
  6. A system of early education to ensure that all students enter kindergarten on track for school success
  7. Alignment of high school to postsecondary and career expectations

While the court has persistently upheld the efforts of the Leandro case and what is legally owed to public school children, Republican leadership in the General Assembly insists that because of the constitutional separation of powers clause, the court cannot compel the legislature on how to spend State money. The court order says that “If the State fails to implement actions described in the Comprehensive Remedial Plan…‘it will then be the duty of this Court to enter a judgment granting declaratory relief and such other relief as needed to correct the wrong.’” Click here for an article on the order and current legislative efforts.

 

This week the U.S. Department of Education released Maintenance of Equity Guidance for the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) funding, to help ensure that “essential resources are meeting the needs of students who have been subject to longstanding opportunity gaps in our education system.”

  • Click here to access ARP ESSER Maintenance of Equity FAQs
  • Click here to access the ARP ESSER State Plan Application Technical Assistance webpage
  • Click here to access the Department’s press release announcing actions to advance equity in education

 

The National School Boards Action Center released a national public opinion poll on public education. The findings are from a nationwide survey of 1,000 individuals who are likely 2022 voters, with oversamples of 100 African American, 100 Latinx, 100 AAPI, 100 Native American, and 100 parents of school-age children who are likely 2022 voters. Click here to view key findings and full results.

 

Tuesday, June 15

8:30 am – House Appropriations, Education – Legislative Offices Building, rm 425 (no live stream)

1:00 pm – House Local Government – Legislative Building, rm 1228/1327 (live stream)

Wednesday, June 16

10:00 am – Senate Health Care – Legislative Offices Building, rm 544 (live stream)

 

 

  

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 – June 11, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – June 4, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – June 4, 2021

 

State Budget Process

There is less than a month until the start of the new fiscal year, and we still do not have an initial version of the budget for the 2021-2023 biennium. Traditionally, the House and Senate alternate starting the biennial budget process, and this session it is the Senate’s turn. We usually see the first chamber’s budget proposal by late April or early May, followed by the second chamber’s proposal by early to mid-June. News outlets quote Senate leader Phil Berger as saying he is ready to proceed with mini budgets that will be released by mid-June. This mini budget method is what the legislature has relied on since the last new budget was released in 2018.

At the end of Thursday’s House session, Speaker Tim Moore stated that the House will create its own budget if the Senate budget process does not begin moving forward. Representative Jason Saine, Senior Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, also said that there will be a House budget and that member input will be sought. The House held its first round of budget hearings this week and will have more hearings next week, with the House Appropriations Committee on Education meeting on Tuesday, June 8, at 8:30 am. The full House Appropriations Committee will also meet next week on Wednesday, June 9, at 9:00 am.

The House Appropriations Committee on Education met on Tuesday this week and received a presentation on State Board of Education (SBE) and DPI budget requests. The presentation notes modifications in budget requests that emphasize the use of available federal COVID-19 relief funds, while preserving State funds. Click here for an article on the presentation. The following are budget requests outlined in the presentation:

  • Addressing statewide learning challenges and recovery (science of reading training, school turnaround, etc.)
  • Student wellbeing and school safety
  • Education workforce development (teacher and principal recruitment and retention)
  • School business modernization
  • Connecting middle/high school students to post-secondary and career opportunities

Additionally, during Tuesday’s Council of State meeting, Governor Roy Cooper issued a public reminder to both the House and Senate that he needs to be involved in these ongoing budget discussions, as he ultimately has to sign the budget into law. Cooper also mentioned spending figures that had been proposed by both the House and the Senate, but the proposals were not confirmed by either chamber. Click here for an article on the state budget process.

Education-Related Bills with Action This Week

HB 812: Clarify Remote Meetings During Emergencies (primary sponsors: Representatives Dean Arp, R-Union; Bobby Hanig, R-Currituck; Erin Pare, R-Wake; William Richardson, D-Cumberland) was approved by the Senate Judiciary and Rules committees and is on the Senate calendar for Monday, June 7.

HB 84: Sex Offender Premises Restrictions (primary sponsors: Representatives Harry Warren, R-Rowan; Allen McNeill, R-Randolph; Dennis Riddell, R-Alamance; Sarah Stevens, R-Surry) was approved by the Senate Judiciary and Rules committees and is on the Senate calendar for Monday, June 7.

HB 654 Statewide Contracts/Nonprofits for the Blind (primary sponsors: Representatives Jon Hardister, R-Guilford; Robert Reives, D-Chatham; Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth; John Bradford, R-Mecklenburg) was amended by the House on second reading to exempt political subdivisions (local governments).

HB 85: Cleveland Cty Bd. of Ed Vacancies (primary sponsors: Representatives Kelly Hastings, R-Gaston; Jason Saine, R-Lincoln) was modified and approved by the Senate Redistricting and Elections Committee and referred to the Senate Rules Committee.

Bill Chart

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

 

The SBE met for its monthly meeting on Wednesday and Thursday this week, hearing presentations on the following:

K-12 social studies supporting documents: Earlier this year the SBE voted 7-5 to approve the State’s new K-12 social studies standards, with the vote roughly split along party lines. While there were concerns about divisive language, there was also praise for inclusion of various historic experiences. This month, DPI presented the Board with the following K-12 social studies supporting documents:

  • K-12 glossary – definitions of primary terms and concepts that teachers need to know and understand to effectively teach the standards
  • K-12 crosswalks – reference tool that compares changes/differences between two sets of standards (previous standards vs. newly adopted standards)
  • K-12 strand maps – help ensure vertical progression of major concepts that students are expected to know by the end of each grade/course
  • K-5 unpacking documents (K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) – enhance teacher understanding of how to engage with the standards

These supporting documents are not requirements but rather resources and ideas to help teachers comprehensively address the required standards in their classroom curriculum. State Superintendent Catherine Truitt explained that most of her implemented changes to the supporting documents were to remove specificity from and add diversity to example topics. Additional modifications were requested, including a request for glossary term citations. Because of this request, the Board planned to wait until July to vote on the glossary. This postponement then led to discussion about delaying a vote for all supporting documents until the July meeting because of the use of glossary terms in the other supporting documents. Ultimately, the Board voted 8-2 to postpone a vote on all supporting documents to no later than June 18, which will require a called meeting. Click here for an article on the meeting and discussion. Click here for a presentation that provides snapshots of each supporting document. Additionally, the 6-12 unpacking documents are still being developed and will be presented at the July monthly meeting.

Literacy update and contract: The Board approved a three-year $14.5 million contract with Amplify to use mClass for Read to Achieve assessments. As a reminder, under the previous State Superintendent’s administration, the State switched from Amplify to Istation for its Read to Achieve assessment provider, which triggered a lawsuit that led to school districts choosing from multiple assessment tools for this past school year. DPI chose to not continue this multiple assessment tool option because of the lack of time and resources in being able to support districts at the State level and collect statewide data. Based on vendor evaluations, Amplify stood out because of its integrated literacy system based on the science of reading that measures all Read to Achieve legislative components. This contract approval follows the passage of SB 387: Excellent Public Schools Act of 2021/SL 2021-8 earlier this year, which requires the implementation of science of reading training into the Read to Achieve program. Click here for an article on the literacy update and contract.

ESSER III application template: The SBE approved the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) fund State application template. About two-thirds of ESSER III funds have already been allocated by the federal government, and the last third is subject to an application process. The application template is required to stay open for a 30-day public comment period, which is currently in progress, and DPI plans to submit a modified version based off public comment to the US Department of Education by June 21. The draft application template contains seven sections, including NC’s current status and needs, sustaining safe school operations, and planning for use and coordination of ARP ESSER funds. The Board will schedule a called meeting to review the final version of the application template prior to the June 21 submission.

DHHS COVID-19 update: The Board was presented with data showing improved statewide metrics, vaccine distribution rates showing that 19% of the State’s 12-17 year olds have been vaccinated, and a review of the face covering policy in schools. DHHS staff explained that the rationale behind still requiring masks in schools is that a majority of the school population is unvaccinated because vaccines have not been approved for younger children. Currently 0% of children under 12 have been vaccinated, but Pfizer is expected to submit data for authorization of 2-11 year olds to receive its vaccine in September. Board member Amy White expressed concerns about still requiring masks for children in schools when statistics show low infection, spread, and death rates in children. When asked what metrics will prompt DHHS to recommend that children do not need to wear masks in schools, staff stated that they will be looking at all metrics, including rate of transmission, rate of vaccine access for children, and risks versus benefits. The CDC continues to recommend mask mandates in schools, which was reiterated in a Wednesday press conference with Governor Cooper and DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen.

Click here to access all meeting materials.

 

Monday, June 7

5:30 pm – Senate Rules – Legislative Building, rm 1027/1128 (live stream)

Tuesday, June 8

8:30 am – House Appropriations, Education – Legislative Offices Building, rm 425 (no live stream)

1:00 pm – House Local Government – Legislative Building, rm 1228/1327 (live stream)

1:30 pm – House Education K-12 – Legislative Offices Building, rm 643 (live stream)

2:00 pm – House Pensions and Retirement – Legislative Offices Building, rm 415 (live stream)

 

 

 

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 – June 4, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – May 28, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – May 28, 2021

 

State Budget Process

Traditionally, the House and Senate alternate starting the biennial budget process, and this session it is the Senate’s turn. Usually, the first chamber releases its budget between late April and early May and the second chamber releases its budget by mid-June. Since legislative leaders have still not come to an agreement on how much to spend on this year’s budget, the Senate has not yet submitted its budget proposal. At this rate, the first version of the budget won’t be released until mid-June, if at all.

The Senate’s delay in releasing a budget proposal has prompted the House to proceed with its own version of the budget. The House has scheduled its first round of budget hearings next week, and although it’s not against tradition for both chambers to simultaneously work on the budget, it would go against tradition if the House released its version of the budget before the Senate. House Speaker Tim Moore’s spokeswoman told WRAL news that “We hope the Senate will send us their budget soon, but the House will be passing a comprehensive two-year budget at some point this session, regardless.” Meaning that this year we could end up with two very different proposed budgets and spending priorities. Senate leader Phil Berger does not seem to have a problem with the Senate’s handling of the budget process, as he is quoted saying, “It’s not the end of the world if we don’t end up passing a traditional budget.” As a reminder, the State has not had a new budget since 2018 but has instead relied on mini budgets to make year-to-year adjustments. NCSBA will continue to monitor the budget process and keep you informed on any new developments. Click here for an article on the budget process.

Notable Bills with Action This Week

SB 172: Additional 2021 COVID-19 Response & Relief (primary sponsors: Senators Brent Jackson, R-Sampson; Kathy Harrington, R-Gaston; Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell) was signed into law (SL 2021-25) by the Governor on Monday. This bill appropriates COVID-19 relief funds, including $3.2 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III (ESSER III) funds included in the American Rescue Plan. This is the 90% of ESSER III funds that go directly to public school units (PSUs), while the other 10% goes to DPI. 20% of the PSU funds are required to address learning loss, and all ESSER III funds expire on September 30, 2024. Click here to access DPI’s planning allotments of these ESSER III funds. Additionally, SB 172 ensures that each PSU receives at least $400 per student in federal grant funds and includes supplemental IDEA funds (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).

HB 947: The G.R.E.A.T. Broadband Expansion Act (primary sponsors: Representatives Dean Arp, R-Union; Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth; Jason Saine, R-Lincoln; Jake Johnson, R-Polk) passed the House 109-0 and is now in the Senate. This bill makes changes to the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (G.R.E.A.T.) program and creates a process to utilize federal COVID-19 relief funds for the program. The funds will be used to connect all 100 counties to broadband infrastructure, with the goal of reaching unserved and underserved areas. Although no House Democrats voted against HB 947, many said that the bill did not do enough in helping people pay for internet service.

HB 334: JOBS Grants and Tax Relief was rewritten by the Senate to be a bill that uses federal funds to provide up to a billion dollars in grants to businesses affected by COVID-19 and to provide tax cuts to businesses and individuals. The tax cuts include a reduction in the personal income tax rate from 5.25% to 4.99%, an increase in the standard deduction and child deduction, phase out of the corporate income tax over five years, and a reduction in the franchise tax. The tax changes produce a reduction of General Fund revenues equal to $568 million in the 2021-2022 fiscal year and $2.1 billion by the 2025-2026 fiscal year. Senate leaders have said that future revenue growth will be sufficient to handle future expenditure needs, but there has been no five-year projection of revenue and expenditures released by the legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal staff. Since K-12 Education makes up 40% of the General Fund budget, future revenue availability is important. HB 334 was approved by the Senate Finance and Appropriations committees and referred to the Senate Rules Committee.

Leandro Bill

This week at the legislature began with a virtual news conference of Democratic legislators and education advocates calling on legislative leaders to consider HB 946: Sound Basic Education for Every Child (primary sponsors: Representatives Julie von Haefen, D-Wake; Rachel Hunt, D-Mecklenburg; Raymond Smith, D-Wayne; Ricky Hurtado, D-Alamance). This bill is another piece in the long-standing Leandro case, and follows the State Board of Education’s and DPI’s submission of a comprehensive remedial plan to the State Superior Court on March 15. HB 946 includes some of the remedial plan’s action steps on how the State can fulfill its constitutional obligation of providing every student with access to a sound, basic education. Click here for an article on the news conference.

Click here for an article covering legislative action this week.

Bill Chart

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

 

On Monday Governor Roy Cooper announced how he plans to use $51.4 million in federal funding, a majority of which will help students access postsecondary education. These federal dollars are the State’s share of the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund. Using $31.5 million, the Governor will launch the Longleaf Commitment program to aid graduating high school seniors from low- and middle-income families with at least $2,800 in federal and state grants to cover tuition and most fees at any of NC’s 58 community colleges. Click here to access the Longleaf Commitment webpage, which includes eligibility requirements and guidance on how to apply. Additional GEER funds will be used to launch the Longleaf Complete program, which will help current college students complete their degree, and to invest in the following supports that will benefit K-12 education:

  • A $825,000 grant to the nonprofit Communities in Schools to teach 11th and 12th grade students workplace skills
  • $750,0000 to create a dashboard to track the State’s education recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic
  • $650,000 to expand digital literacy programs

The first round of GEER funds was received in August 2020 and has been used to hire K-12 student health and academic support staff and to provide financial aid to college students. The funds awarded on Monday include remaining GEER I funds, as well as GEER II funds. Click here and here for articles on the distribution of the GEER funds.

On Wednesday, myFutureNC hosted a webinar sharing information about the new Longleaf Commitment program. Click here to access the recorded webinar and click here to access the webinar presentation slides.

Click here for a FAQ created by the U.S. Department of Education as guidance for the use of GEER funds and ESSER funds.

 

On Wednesday, the SBE met to approve agenda items pertaining to ESSER funds, including temporary positions at DPI that will aid in the administration, monitoring, compliance, and impact analysis of ESSER III funds allocated to PSUs. Click here to access the meeting agenda and materials.

 

Tuesday, June 1

2:30 pm – Senate Rules – Legislative Building, rm 1027/1128 (live stream)

Wednesday, June 2

8:30 am – House Appropriations, Education – Legislative Offices Building, rm 425

The SBE meets for its monthly meeting on Wednesday, June 2, and Thursday, June 3 (live stream)

 

 

 

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 – May 28, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – May 21, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – May 21, 2021

 

After the past few weeks of nonstop legislative action and last week’s crossover deadline, this week at the legislature was relatively calm. The General Assembly released its list of 2021 non-revenue and non-appropriations bills that made crossover. Additionally, there were a few committee meetings and voting sessions, with one notable bill being presented to the Governor.

SB 172: Additional 2021 COVID-19 Response & Relief (primary sponsors: Senators Brent Jackson, R-Sampson; Kathy Harrington, R-Gaston; Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell) passed the House 100-2, the Senate concurred with the House changes, and the bill now awaits the Governor’s signature. SB 172 appropriates COVID-19 relief funds, including $3.2 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III (ESSER III) funds included in the American Rescue Plan. This is the 90% of ESSER III funds that go directly to public school units (PSUs), while the other 10% goes to DPI. 20% of the PSU funds are required to address learning loss, and they expire on September 30, 2024. Additionally, SB 172 ensures that each PSU receives at least $400 per student in federal grant funds and includes supplemental IDEA funds (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).

Another education-related bill with action this week is HB 947: the G.R.E.A.T. Broadband Expansion Act (primary sponsors: Representatives Dean Arp, R-Union; Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth; Jason Saine, R-Lincoln; Jake Johnson, R-Polk). This bill makes changes to the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (G.R.E.A.T.) program and creates a process to utilize federal COVID-19 relief funds for the program. During the House Appropriations Committee hearing, bill sponsor Representative Dean Arp stated that “we will be able to start broadband in all 100 counties by the end of this year.” HB 947 has been referred to the House Rules Committee.

Bill Chart

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

 

On Thursday, the Joint Legislative Committee on Governmental Operations Subcommittee on Interscholastic Athletics held its second meeting on its investigation into the NC High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA). The Thursday meeting consisted of discussion and questioning of:

  • State Superintendent Catherine Truitt on the State Board of Education’s (SBE) and DPI’s relationship with NCHSAA
  • Former Vice Chair of the SBE Buddy Collins on his concerns about NCHSAA while on the Board
  • Union County Board of Education Chair Melissa Merrell on NCHSAA’s local level impact

Invited attendees and Subcommittee members agreed on the need for more financial transparency within the NCHSAA and improvement on the process of handling student concerns and complaints. As a reminder, the first meeting of the Subcommittee included questioning of NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker about the Association’s assets of more than $40 million, the competitive imbalance in 1A athletics, and the Association’s service to its member schools. Click here to access an article on the meeting, which includes video testimony.

 

On Wednesday, the Governor released his recommendations on how the State should spend $5.7 billion in federal American Rescue Plan funds. The recommendations include $300 million for the State to meet its constitutional obligation of providing a sound, basic education to each student. To meet this obligation, the Governor recommends:

  • $65.3 million to build the teacher pipeline
  • $75 million for literacy coaches
  • $101.8 million for early childhood education, including expansion of NC Pre-K
  • $57.9 million for home-based early literacy development

Additionally, $1.2 billion is recommended to close the digital divide by expanding broadband access. The legislature has not yet indicated how it plans to appropriate this $5.7 billion in federal funds. Click here to view all the recommendations. Click here for an article on the education-related recommendations.

 

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visited Bright Beginnings Child Development Center in Cary, NC. Cardona was joined by Governor Roy Cooper, State Superintendent Catherine Truitt, and DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen. The group discussed the importance of early childhood education with parents and teachers, and Cardona explained President Biden’s American Families Plan, which includes free Pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds. The Plan calls for $1.8 trillion in federal funds to be invested in education, childcare, and paid family leave. Cardona stated that “it costs more not to do this”, noting that early childhood education increases students’ ability to succeed in school. Click here for an article on the Secretary’s visit.

 

No education-related meetings posted as of 12:00 pm Friday, May 21.

 

 

 

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 – May 21, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – May 14, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – May 14, 2021

 

Crossover week has come and gone for this legislative biennium. Voting sessions lasted for hours at a time but neither chamber had to stay late into the night, with the latest voting session ending at 10:00 pm. This is relatively early compared to past years when sessions would go well past midnight. What makes this year different is that we have been experiencing the urgency of crossover week for nearly a month. These past few weeks have been scheduled full of committee meetings and voting sessions. Many education-related bills passed out of their originating chamber this week, which we have listed below.

Bills that Passed the House

Statewide bills

  • HB 324: Ensuring Dignity & Nondiscrimination/Schools (primary sponsors: Representatives Jason Saine, R-Lincoln; James Boles, R-Moore; Larry Yarborough, R-Person; John Torbett, R-Gaston)
    • Passed the House 66-48 along party lines
    • The original contents of this bill were replaced with a bill that prohibits public school units (PSUs) from promoting the following:
      • There are/were superior races or sexes
      • An individual, by virtue of his/her race or sex, should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress
      • An individual, by virtue of his/her race or sex, bears responsibility for past actions committed by members of the same race or sex
      • The belief that the U.S. is inherently racist or sexist or was created by racist or sexist members
    • Many Democrats spoke out against the bill, including Representative James Gailliard, D-Nash, who said it is a bill of hatred, privilege, and fragility. HB 324 received praise and approval from House Speaker Tim Moore and State Superintendent Catherine Truitt.
    • Click here and here for articles on HB 324
  • HB 729: Charter Schools Omnibus. (primary sponsors: Representatives Larry Yarborough, R-Person; Jon Hardister, R-Guilford; John Bradford, R-Mecklenburg; Mark Brody, R-Union)
    • Passed the House 63-52
    • This bill quickly passed through two committees and voting on the floor, with legislative leaders not allowing public comment in committee or debate on the House floor. NCSBA worked with a House Republican on an amendment to remove the section of the bill that authorizes counties to provide capital funds to charters. After House leadership learned about Republican support for this amendment, the bill was withdrawn from the calendar. On the following day, the bill was placed on the House calendar, but the proposed amendment was sponsored by a Democrat instead of a Republican. The amendment was tabled, meaning no one was allowed to vote on the amendment. All but one Democrat voted against the bill, as well as four Republicans.
    • HB 729 makes the following changes to charter school laws:
      • Allows charter schools to provide a combination of remote and in-person instruction
      • Authorizes counties to provide capital funds to charter schools
      • Expresses the General Assembly’s intent to ensure parity in funding of students in charter schools and other PSUs
      • Permits charter schoolteachers to receive residency licensure
  • HB 621: Increase Dropout Age/Completion Indicator. (primary sponsors: Representatives Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes; Charles Graham, D-Robeson; Mitchell Setzer, R-Catawba)
    • Passed the House 109-3
    • This bill raises the dropout age from 16 to 18 over a five-year period and establishes a completion rate indicator for school performance grades.
  • HB 794: Allow Schools in All Zoning Districts. (primary sponsors: Representatives Dean Arp, R-Union; Jason Saine, R-Lincoln; Mark Brody, R-Union; John Torbett, R-Gaston)
    • Passed the House 109-3
    • This bill designates public schools as a permitted use in all zoning districts, which streamlines the process to build new schools, saving time and money.

Local bills:

Bills that Passed the Senate

  • SB 593: Special Education Due Process Hearings. (primary sponsors: Senators Brent Jackson, R-Sampson; Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Michael Lee, R-New Hanover)
    • Passed the Senate 33-16
    • This bill alters the appeals process for special education due process hearings by eliminating State Hearing Review Officers (SHROs). The SHROs currently review, upon the request of a party, the decisions made by administrative law judges. Under SB 593, such decisions would be appealed in state or federal court. School attorneys believe that this bill will likely violate federal regulations, which could put federal funds in jeopardy.
  • SB 668: Anti-Pension Spiking Amds & Litig. Moratorium (primary sponsor: Senator Jim Burgin, R-Harnett)
    • Passed the Senate 49-0
    • This bill does the following:
      • Adds another payment option: 12 years with no early pay-off penalty
      • In certain situations, two or more employers will share the liability
      • Creates a working group consisting of NCSBA and the State Treasurer’s office to develop recommendations to the General Assembly that will reduce pension spiking cases and lawsuits
      • Requires a pause on pension-spiking litigation until June 30, 2022, during which the working group will create its recommendations
        • As a result of this pause, the statute of limitations will be extended

Bill Removed from Calendar

  • SB 355: Government Transparency Act of 2021 (primary sponsors: Senators Norman Sanderson, R-Pamlico; Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick; Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth)
    • Was scheduled to be voted on by the Senate this week but was later removed from the calendar and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee
    • This bill requires local boards of education (as well as counties, municipalities, community colleges, State agencies, etc.) to not only maintain the date and general description of the reasons for each promotion, but also for each demotion, dismissal, transfer, suspension, separation, or other change in position. An employee can appeal to not have the date and description of their promotion, demotion, etc. disclosed if the information is protected by an applicable confidentiality law, like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or the Americans with Disabilities Act.
    • There is still the possibility that the contents of SB 355 will get added to another bill that met the crossover deadline.

Budget Process

Legislative leaders have still not agreed on how much to spend on this year’s budget. House Speaker Tim Moore stated that the House wants to spend $500 million more than the Senate. Senate leader Phil Berger said that once an amount is agreed upon it will take up to three weeks for the Senate budget to be released. For comparison, in the past few years the first version of the budget was released in late April or early May. Click here for an article on the budget disagreements.

Bill Chart

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

 

This week the SBE held its Bi-Annual Planning and Work Session on Tuesday and Wednesday. Click here to see topics, presenters, and materials. On Thursday, the SBE held is monthly meeting and was presented with the following:

DHHS COVID-19 update: This week the FDA expanded authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to include 12–15-year-olds, followed by the CDC recommending that authorization. This announcement comes as already roughly 43,000 16- and 17-year-olds in the State have been vaccinated. Additional CDC guidance that was released on Thursday says that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks or social distance in most settings. This afternoon Governor Cooper announced the lifting of the statewide mask mandate in most settings, not including schools, as well as the lifting of all mass gathering and social distancing requirements. Regarding student metrics, DHHS staff pointed out that a majority of COVID-19 clusters in middle and high schools are linked to athletics. Screening testing continues to be available to schools at no cost for the rest of the 2020-2021 school year, and DHHS has submitted a funding request and plan to the CDC to receive additional funding for the next school year.

ABC Collaborative report: The SBE received its first report from the ABC Science Collaborative since the passage of SB 220: The Reopen Our Schools Act of 2021/SL 2021-4, which requires middle and high schools that are open under Plan A to partner with the Collaborative to collect data related to reopening schools. The report is based on data from April, which found that 99 LEAs and 20 charter schools are in Plan A. Cases of COVID-19 in schools consisted of 2,214 community acquired cases, but only 42 cases of within-school transmission. Based on data previously presented to the General Assembly about transmission between August 2020 and February 2021, within-school transmission appears to be similar whether schools are in Plan A or Plan B. This can be largely attributed to the continuous mask mandate. The presentation concluded with the statement that “There is no medical-safety reason to support Plan B compared to Plan A.”

Updated DHHS StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit: Last week DHHS updated its Toolkit to remove the mask mandate for outdoor settings at schools but still recommends wearing a mask outdoors when social distancing is difficult. When asked what conditions need to be present to lift the indoor mask mandate at schools, DHHS staff pointed to data presented by the ABC collaborative contributing low transmission rates to the wearing of masks. DHHS staff also stated that lifting the indoor mask mandate could look different for different grade levels, since students 12 and up can receive the vaccine but elementary age children cannot. SBE Chair Eric Davis presented a motion to approve the amendments to the Toolkit, provided that the amendments are not inconsistent with SB 220: The Reopen Our Schools Act of 2021/SL 2021-4. As we have noted before, SB 220 requires compliance with the Toolkit as that guidance existed on March 4, 2021.

ELISS Competitive Grant Program: HB 196: 2021 COVID-19 Response & Relief/SL 2021-3 appropriated $15 million from the 10% DPI reserve of the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund II (ESSER II) for the Extended Learning and Integrated Student Supports (ELISS) Competitive Grant Program. ELISS is designed to support at-risk students who have been negatively affected by COVID-19. Grants are to be awarded to new or existing programs operated by nonprofits working with LEAs. DPI staff stated that they will open the application process soon with a due date in August. Following application submissions, DPI will present funding recommendations to the SBE in October. For more on ELISS and its requirements, click here.

Click here to access all meeting materials.

Click here to access an article on the meeting and other legislative action this week.

 

The following education-related bills were filed this week.

Statewide Bills

 

Wednesday, May 19

10:00 am – Senate Redistricting and Elections – Legislative Offices Building, rm 544 (live stream)

Thursday, May 20

2:00 pm – Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations, Subcommittee on Interscholastic Athletics – Legislative Building Auditorium (live stream)

 

 

 

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 – May 14, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – May 7, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – May 7, 2021

 

This week at the legislature consisted of non-stop action as next week’s legislative deadlines quickly approach. The House public bill filing deadline is Tuesday, May 11 and the Crossover deadline is Thursday, May 13. As a reminder, Crossover is the deadline for bills to pass out of their originating chamber in order to remain eligible for the rest of the legislative biennium. Numerous House bills were filed, and important education bills passed both the House and Senate. Below you will find five sections of education-related bills based on their progress this week. Click here for an article summarizing legislative action this week.

Bills that Passed the Senate

SB 654: K-12 COVID-19 Provisions (primary sponsors: Senators Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Don Davis, D-Pitt; Michael Lee, R-New Hanover) passed the Senate 49-0. NCSBA and the NC Association of School Administrators (NCASA) continued to work with Senators on this bill up until its passage. Prior to receiving Senate approval, a bill sponsor amendment was adopted that amends the virtual instruction sections of the bill. Now SB 654 allows the following virtual instruction for the 2021-2022 school year:

  • A public school unit (PSU) is required to submit a virtual instruction plan to DPI by June 1, 2021, in order to provide virtual instruction to students (with consent of parent or guardian) during the upcoming school year
  • PSUs with good cause waivers can use up to 15 days or 90 hours of remote instruction for severe weather and other emergencies
    • All other PSUs can use up to 5 days or 30 hours
  • PSUs can provide remote instruction to address health and safety concerns related to COVID-19 during the upcoming school year
  • The State Superintendent must create a Working Group on Virtual Academies to make recommendations by January 15, 2022
  • The following language was removed by the amendment: LEAs assigned a school code to operate a virtual school by May 1, 2021, may continue to provide virtual school for the upcoming school year

Additionally, SB 654 does the following:

  • Waives school performance grades, report cards, and low-performing school identification for the upcoming school year based on 2020-2021 school year data
  • Continues the principal recruitment supplement for the 2021-2022 school year
  • Allows seniors to graduate in 2021 without completing CPR instruction
  • Extends exam requirements for teachers seeking a continuing professional license from June 30, 2021, to September 30, 2021
  • Adds another definition of a year-round school: allows a single-track school to operate on the same multi-track schedule of another school in that LEA

SB 671: Changes to the K-12 Scholarship Programs (primary sponsors: Senators Michael Lee, R-New Hanover; Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Amy Galey, R-Alamance) passed the Senate 29-20. Before the vote, which essentially spit along party lines, Senator Natasha Marcus, D-Mecklenburg, contested the bill saying that private schools are not held accountable when using public dollars. SB 671 bill does the following:

  • Opportunity Scholarships
    • Changes the amount paid per voucher from $4,200 to 90% of the average State per pupil allocation for average daily membership (ADM) in the prior fiscal year (average of $5,948 based on 2019-2020 school year data)
    • Expands eligibility to students who are at least four years old, if approved by the principal (currently at least five years old by August 31)
    • Increases income eligibility from 150% to 175% of the amount required for the student to qualify for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program
    • Extends financial eligibility to include foster children
    • Allows students previously enrolled in Department of Defense Elementary and Secondary Schools to qualify for the scholarship
    • Authorizes up to $500,000 to promote the voucher program
  • Merges the Special Education Scholarships for Children with the Disabilities and Personal Education Savings Accounts into a new program called the Personal Education Student Accounts for Children with Disabilities (PESA-CWD)
    • Expands eligibility to students who are at least four years old, if approved by the principal (currently at least five years old by August 31)
    • Clarifies that students with certain disabilities would be eligible for scholarship funds up to $17,000 (this is the combined amount awarded in the previous two programs)
    • States that the total amount of funds carried forward for an eligible student in a personal education student account cannot exceed $30,000

SB 172: Additional 2021 COVID-19 Response & Relief (primary sponsors: Representatives Brent Jackson, R-Sampson; Kathy Harrington, R-Gaston; Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell) passed the Senate 49-0. This bill appropriates COVID-19 relief funds, including $3.2 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III (ESSER III) funds included in the American Rescue Plan. This is the 90% of ESSER III funds that go directly to PSUs, while the other 10% goes to DPI. 20% of the PSU funds are required to address learning loss, and they expire on September 30, 2024.

Bills that Passed the House

HB 644: Remote Academies. (primary sponsors: Representatives Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes; Jason Saine, R-Lincoln; John Torbett, R-Gaston) passed the House 95-22. This bill allows no more than 10% of total student enrollment in a LEA to be enrolled in a remote academy, beginning with the 2021-2022 school year. It also allows a LEA that is assigned a school code for virtual instruction by May 1, 2021 to continue to provide virtual instruction for the 2021-2022 school year.

HB 755: Academic Transparency. (primary sponsors: Representatives Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke; John Torbett, R-Gaston; Jon Hardister, R-Guilford; Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes) passed the House 66-50. This bill requires PSUs to post to their website a list of lesson plans, instructional materials, and procedures for approval of those materials used in the prior school year by June 30 annually. Title, author, brief description, and link (if publicly accessible) are required to be posted to the website for each instructional material. Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 247: Standards of Student Conduct (primary sponsor: Representative John Torbett, R-Gaston) passed the House 66-49 along party lines. Before passing the House, an amendment to add previously removed language that provides examples of student conduct not deemed punishable by long-term suspension, including inappropriate language, dress code violations, minor physical altercations, and noncompliance, failed. This amendment was previously rejected in the House Education K-12 Committee. HB 247 requires PSU boards to do the following:

  • Consult with teachers, school-based administrators, parents, and local law enforcement when adopting discipline policies and student code of conduct
  • Consider existing federal guidance for disciplining students with disabilities, in addition to other school discipline guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Education
  • Send most current discipline policies and student code of conduct to DPI by September 1 each year
  • Inform parents and guardians of the full range of responses to disciplinary violations at the beginning of each school year

Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 657: School Safety/Threat Assessment Teams. (primary sponsor: Representative John Torbett, R-Gaston) passed the House 92-25. This bill requires the establishment of threat assessment teams in PSUs to evaluate threatening behavior, determine the level of risk, and intervene when deemed necessary to protect students and staff. Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 362: Revise Personal Leave Costs for Teachers. (primary sponsors: Representatives Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes; John Torbett, R-Gaston; Ashton Clemmons, D-Guilford; Rosa Gill, D-Wake) passed the House 112-0. This bill drops the requirement that teachers pay out of pocket for a substitute teacher when taking a personal leave day, as long as the teacher provides a reason for the leave. If a teacher does not provide a reason, the teacher will pay the full cost for a substitute teacher, rather than the currently mandated $50 deduction. Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 428: Teacher Licensure/Retired Educator Program. (primary sponsors: Representatives Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes; Mark Brody, R-Union; Charles Miller, R-Brunswick; Ashton Clemmons, D-Guilford) passed the House 117-0. This bill modifies a limited teacher license to be a three-year renewable license (was nonrenewable). The limited license can only be requested by the local school board employing or seeking to employ the individual and can only be used for employment in that LEA. HB 428 also extends and expands the program that allows retired teachers to work in high-need schools, now including principals and other instructional support personnel like psychologists and audiologists. Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 390: School Calendar Flexibility/Certain Systems. (primary sponsors: Jake Johnson, R-Polk; Timothy Moffit, R-Henderson) passed the House on a voice vote. This bill allows public schools in Henderson, Polk, and Transylvania counties to open as early as August 15. This is the 13th school calendar bill to pass the House and be sent to the Senate.

HB 677: School Accountability Recommendation Comm. (primary sponsors: Representatives Ashton Clemmons, D-Guilford; Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes; Dennis Riddell, R-Alamance; Rosa Gill, D-Wake)

HB 760: Opportunity Gap Task Force. (primary sponsors: Representatives Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke; Cecil Brockman, D-Guilford; John Torbett, R-Gaston; Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes)

HB 160: Retirement Service Purchase Rewrite Part II.-AB (primary sponsors: Representatives Allen McNeill, R-Randolph; Carson Smith, R-Pender)

HB 3: Craven Bd of Ed/Partisan Electoral Districts (primary sponsor: Representative Keith Kidwell, R-Beaufort)

HB 85: Cleveland Cty Bd. of Ed Vacancies (primary sponsors: Representatives Kelly Hastings, R-Gaston; Jason Saine, R-Lincoln)

HB 400: Asheville City Sch. Bd. Elections. (primary sponsors: Representatives Susan Fisher, D-Buncombe; Brian Turner, D-Buncombe; John Ager, D-Buncombe)

Bills that Are Scheduled for a Senate Vote on Monday, May 10

SB 355: Government Transparency Act of 2021 (primary sponsors: Senators Norman Sanderson, R-Pamlico; Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick; Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth) requires local boards of education (as well as counties, municipalities, community colleges, State agencies, etc.) to not only maintain the date and general description of the reasons for each promotion, but also for each demotion, dismissal, transfer, suspension, separation, or other change in position. An employee can appeal to not have the date and description of their promotion, demotion, etc. disclosed if the information is protected by an applicable confidentiality law, like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or the American with Disabilities Act. Click here for an official bill summary. NCSBA opposes SB 355, and we are currently working with other employer groups on this issue.

SB 695: Statewide Medical Action Plan for Schools. (primary sponsors: Senators Steve Jarvis, R-Davidson; Michael Lee, R-New Hanover; Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga) requires medical condition action plans for certain public-school students. NCSBA does not support this bill because its requirements are already covered under other federal and state laws. We are working with DPI and the State Board of Education to address our mutual concerns.

SB 582: High School Adjunct Instructors/CC Prep. (primary sponsors: Senators Jim Burgin, R-Harnett; Kevin Corbin, R-Macon)

SB 450: Carbon Monoxide Detectors/School Bldgs. (primary sponsors: Senators Michael Lee, R-New Hanover; Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Lisa Barnes, R-Nash)

Bills that Are Scheduled for a House Vote on Monday, May 10

HB 794: Allow Schools in All Zoning Districts. (primary sponsors: Representatives Dean Arp, R-Union; Jason Saine, R-Lincoln; Mark Brody, R-Union; John Torbett, R-Gaston) was filed, approved by two committees, and scheduled for a House vote on Monday, May 10. This bill designates public schools as a permitted use in all zoning districts. NCSBA fully supports this bill because it streamlines the process to build new schools, which saves time and money. Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 704: Local Option Sales Tax Flexibility. (primary sponsors: Representatives Julia Howard, R-Davie; Timothy Moffit, R-Henderson; Harry Warren, R-Rowan; Mitchell Setzer, R-Catawba)

HB 664: County Service Districts/Early Childhood Ed. (primary sponsors: Representatives Ashton Clemmons, D-Guilford; Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth; Ray Pickett, R-Watauga; Brandon Lofton, D-Mecklenburg)

Bills that Were in Committee

SB 593: Special Education Due Process Hearings. (primary sponsors: Senators Brent Jackson, R-Sampson; Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Michael Lee, R-New Hanover) was approved by two committees and will be heard in the Senate Rules Committee on Monday, May 10, at 5:30 pm. This bill alters the appeals process for special education due process hearings by eliminating State Hearing Review Officers (SHROs). The SHROs currently review, upon the request of a party, the decisions made by administrative law judges. Should SB 593 become law, such decisions would be appealed in state or federal court. Additionally, school attorneys believe that this bill will likely violate federal regulations as it is currently written, which could put federal funds in jeopardy. Click here for an official bill summary. Click here for an article on the bill.

SB 668: Anti-Pension Spiking Amds & Litig. Moratorium. (primary sponsor: Senator Jim Burgin, R-Harnett) was modified and approved by the Senate Pensions and Retirement Committee and will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, May 10, at 4:30 pm. This bill does the following:

  • Adds another payment option: 12 years with no early pay-off penalty
  • In certain situations, two or more employers will share the liability
  • Creates a working group consisting of NCSBA and the State Treasurer’s office to develop recommendations to the General Assembly that will reduce pension spiking cases and lawsuits
  • Requires a pause on pension-spiking litigation until June 30, 2022, during which the working group will create its recommendations
    • As a result of this pause, the statute of limitations will be extended

Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 508: Education Funding Transparency (primary sponsor: Representative Mike Clampitt, R-Swain), was heard by the House Education K-12 Committee but was removed from consideration after prominent Committee members voiced concerns. Prior to the meeting, NCSBA sent a letter to Committee members expressing opposition to HB 508 and Richard Bostic, NCSBA Assistant Director of Governmental Relations, testified against the bill in Committee. We would like to thank Representatives Frank Iler, R-Brunswick; Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes; Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth; Charles Miller, R-Brunswick; and David Willis, R-Union, for their defense of local school boards, which led to the removal of the bill from consideration. HB 508 does the following:

  • Moves the date from May 1 to March 1 for submission of the budget from the superintendent to the school board and moves the date from May 15 to March 15 for submission of the budget to the county commissioners
  • Allows county commissioners to appropriate local funds at the program report code level
  • Requires local school boards to submit their annual budgets to county commissioners with detail on local funds down to the program report code level

HB 681: CCS/Teacher In-State Tuition Pilot. (primary sponsors: Representatives Steve Tyson, R-Craven; Phil Shepard, R-Onslow) was approved by the House Education K-12 Committee and referred to the House Appropriations Committee.

HB 120: Restrict Local Sales Tax/School Construction. (primary sponsor: Representative Jon Hardister, R-Guilford) was approved by two committees.

HB 353: Winston-Salem/Forsyth Bd. of Ed./Stagger Term. (primary sponsors: Representatives Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth; Lee Zachary, R-Yadkin) was modified and approved by the House Local Government Committee and referred to the House Election Law Committee.

Bill Chart

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

 

On Wednesday, May 5, DHHS released an updated version of its StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit (K-12). The Toolkit updates follow Governor Cooper’s executive order that took effect on April 30 and will expire on June 1. The executive order does the following:

  • Removes the mask mandate in outdoor settings but still recommends wearing a mask outdoors when social distancing is difficult
  • Increases mass gathering capacity limits from 50 to 100 indoors and 100 to 200 outdoors

Because of this executive order, the Toolkit now states that masks are not mandated to be worn outdoors at schools but are still mandated to be worn inside school buildings. The Toolkit provides examples of when it is recommended that masks be worn outdoors:

  • When individuals who are not fully vaccinated cannot maintain at least 6 feet social distancing
  • When individuals who are both vaccinated and unvaccinated are in crowded, dense areas and in situations where social distancing is difficult or not possible

As a reminder, on April 8 the State Board of Education approved the then current version of the Toolkit (updated on March 24, 2021) as official guidance for in-person instruction for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year, unless otherwise extended or modified. The Board’s motion to approve the Toolkit included language saying that the Board’s approval does not override the requirements of SB 220: The Reopen Our Schools Act of 2021/SL 2021-4, which requires compliance with the Toolkit as that guidance existed on March 4, 2021. The SBE, DPI, and NCSBA have tried working with legislators to modify the language in SB 220, but no progress has been made.

 

The following additional education-related bills were filed this week.

Statewide Bills

 

Monday, May 10

12:00 pm – House Local Government – Legislative Building, rm 1228/1327 (live stream)

4:30 pm – Senate Judiciary – Legislative Offices Building, rm 544 (live stream)

5:30 pm – Senate Rules – Legislative Building, rm 1027/1128 (live stream)

Tuesday, May 11

10:00 am – House Transportation – Legislative Building, rm 1228/1327 (live stream)

1:00 pm – House Education K-12 – Legislative Offices Building, rm 643 (live stream)

3:00 pm – House Families, Children, and Aging Policy – Legislative Offices Building, rm 415 (live stream)

Wednesday, May 12

11:00 am – House State Government – Legislative Offices Building, rm 643 (live stream)

 

 

 

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 – May 7, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – April 30, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – April 30, 2021

 

Notable Bills with Action This Week

HB 284: Repeal Right of Actions/Capital Outlay Fund (primary sponsors, which are all former county commissioners: Representatives Larry Potts, R-Davidson; Bobby Hanig, R-Currituck; Ben Moss, R-Richmond; Mark Pless, R-Haywood) was heard in its first committee on Wednesday and failed to be approved on a 5-4 vote. Bruce Mildwurf, NCSBA Director of Governmental Relations, testified in the House State Government Committee against the bill in hopes of saving local school boards’ seat at the school capital negotiation table. As a reminder, HB 284 removes local school boards’ ability to take county commissioners to court if capital funding disputes are not resolved in mediation. House State Government Committee Chairman Representative John Torbett, R-Gaston, stated that though the motion failed, the bill remains on the calendar, which means it could be heard in committee again. We appreciate the efforts of our members who reached out to their representatives expressing opposition to HB 284.

SB 654: K-12 COVID-19 Provisions (primary sponsors: Senators Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Don Davis, D-Pitt; Michael Lee, R-New Hanover) was approved by two committees and is scheduled for a Senate vote on Tuesday, May 4. The original version of the bill did not allow virtual instruction for the 2021-2022 school year other than up to 5 days or 30 hours for severe weather or other emergencies. After NCSBA and other education groups expressed significant concerns, a modified version now provides the following exceptions:

  • LEAs can provide remote instruction to address health and safety concerns related to COVID-19 during the upcoming school year – participation is subject to written consent of the student’s parent or legal guardian
  • LEAs assigned a school code to operate a virtual school by May 1, 2021 may continue to provide virtual school for the upcoming school year
  • The State Superintendent must create a Working Group on Virtual Academies to make recommendations by January 15, 2022

NCSBA and other education groups are seeking further changes to this bill’s virtual instruction section that would simply allow a school to provide virtual instruction for families that want that option. Additionally, SB 654 does the following:

  • Waives school performance grades, report cards, and low-performing school identification for the upcoming school year based on 2020-2021 school year data
  • Continues the principal recruitment supplement for the 2021-2022 school year
  • Allows seniors to graduate in 2021 without completing CRP instruction
  • Extends exam requirements for teachers seeking a continuing professional license from June 30, 2021 to September 30, 2021
  • Adds another definition of a year-round school: allows a single-track school to operate on the same multi-track schedule of another school in that LEA

SB 671: Changes to the K-12 Scholarship Programs (primary sponsors: Senators Michael Lee, R-New Hanover; Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Amy Galey, R-Alamance) was modified and approved by two committees and is scheduled for a Senate vote on Tuesday, May 4. Changes to the bill include:

  • Extends financial eligibility for opportunity scholarships to include foster children
  • Changes the amount paid per voucher from $4,200 to 90% of the average State per pupil allocation for average daily membership (ADM) in the prior fiscal year (average of $5,948 based on 2019-2020 school year data)
    • Previous version of the bill changed the amount to what the State pays per charter school student (average was $6,451 in the 2019-2020 school year)
    • HB 32 (House’s voucher bill) changes the amount to 80% of the average State per pupil allocation (average of $5,287 based on 2019-2020 school year data)

For a more thorough summary of SB 671, click here to access last week’s Legislative Update (under Notable Bills in Committee Next Week).

SB 668: Anti-Pension Spiking Amds & Litig. Moratorium (primary sponsor: Senator Jim Burgin, R-Harnett) was heard in the House Pensions and Retirement Committee for discussion only. This bill does the following:

  • Adds another payment option: 12 years with no early pay-off penalty
  • In certain situations, two or more employers will share the liability
  • Creates a working group consisting of NCSBA and the State Treasurer’s office to develop recommendations to the General Assembly that will reduce pension spiking cases and lawsuits
  • Requires a pause on pension-spiking litigation until June 30, 2022, during which the working group will create its recommendations

HB 486: Replace EOC with National Assessment (primary sponsors: Representatives Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes; John Bell, R-Wayne; Kyle Hall, R-Stokes; John Torbett, R-Gaston) passed the House and was sent to the Senate. This bill replaces high school end-of-course tests (EOCs) with a nationally recognized assessment of high school achievement and college readiness and establishes a new career readiness indicator for school performance grades.

HB 428: Teacher Licensure/Retired Educator Program (primary sponsors: Representatives Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes; Mark Brody, R-Union; Charles Miller, R-Brunswick; Ashton Clemmons, D-Guilford) was modified and approved by the House Pensions Committee and referred to the House Rules Committee. This bill modifies a limited teacher license to be a three-year renewable license (was nonrenewable). The limited license can only be requested by the local school board employing or seeking to employ the individual and can only be used for employment in that LEA. HB 428 also extends and expands the program that allows retired teachers to work in high-need schools, now including principals and other instructional support personnel like psychologists and audiologists.

HB 657: School Safety/Threat Assessment Teams (primary sponsor: Representative John Torbett, R-Gaston) was modified and approved by the House Education K-12 Committee and referred to the House Rules Committee. This bill requires the establishment of threat assessment teams at public school units (PSUs) to evaluate threatening behavior, determine the level of risk, and intervene when deemed necessary to protect students and staff. Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 362: Revise Personal Leave Costs for Teachers  (primary sponsors: Representatives Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes; John Torbett, R-Gaston; Ashton Clemmons, D-Guilford; Rosa Gill, D-Wake) was approved by the House Education K-12 Committee and will be heard in the House State Personnel Committee on Wednesday, May 5 at 11:00 am. This bill drops the requirement that teachers pay out of pocket for a substitute teacher when taking a personal leave day, as long as the teacher provides a reason for the leave. If a teacher does not provide a reason, the teacher will pay the full cost for a substitute teacher, rather than the currently mandated $50 deduction.

School Calendar Flexibility Bills

This week eight local school calendar flexibility bills passed the House and were sent to the Senate:

These eight bills make a total of 12 school calendar bills that have passed the House and are now in the Senate. One of the bills is statewide, and the 11 local bills affect a total of 34 districts. Based on past inaction, these school calendar flexibility bills are not expected to be heard in the Senate.

Notable Bills Filed This Week

HB 729: Charter Schools Omnibus (primary sponsors: Representatives Larry Yarborough, R-Person; Jon Hardister, R-Guilford; John Bradford, R-Mecklenburg; Mark Brody, R-Union) makes the following changes to charter school laws:

  • Allows charter schools to provide a combination of remote and in-person instruction
  • Requires charter schools to only provide demographic information for verification that an enrolled student resides in the LEA
  • Authorizes counties to provide capital funds to charter schools
  • Expresses the General Assembly’s intent to ensure parity in funding of students in charter schools and other PSUs
  • Permits charter school teachers to receive residency licensure

NCSBA expects legislators, on behalf of the charter school community, to add more to this bill that will most likely be extremely hard for LEAs to swallow.

HB 755: Academic Transparency (primary sponsors: Representatives Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke; John Torbett, R-Gaston; Jon Hardister, R-Guilford; Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes) requires PSUs to post to their website a list of instructional materials, activities, and any procedures for approval of those materials. The language of this bill mirrors that of Section 2 in SB 700: Balanced Political Discussion in Classrooms (primary sponsors: Senators Chuck Edwards, R-Henderson; Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth; Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell), with the exception that SB 700 does not apply to charter schools and HB 755 applies to all PSUs.

Gut and Amend Bills in Committee This Week

SB 172: Additional 2021 COVID-19 Response & Relief (primary sponsors: Representatives Brent Jackson, R-Sampson; Kathy Harrington, R-Gaston; Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell) was modified in the Senate Appropriations/Base Budget Committee and referred to the Senate Rules Committee. The new version of this bill appropriates COVID-19 relief funds, including $3.2 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III (ESSER III) funds included in the American Rescue Plan. This is the 90% of ESSER III funds that go directly to PSUs, while the other 10% goes to DPI. 20% of the PSU funds are required to address learning loss, and they expire on September 30, 2024.

HB 240: Criminal Background Checks/Schools (primary sponsor: Representative John Torbett, R-Gaston) was modified and approved by the House Education K-12 Committee and referred to the House Finance Committee. The new version of this bill requires criminal background checks for school personnel who are obtaining, renewing, or reinstating a license. It gives local school boards the authority to determine whether the licensure applicant or the LEA will pay for the background check. It also allows local school boards to conduct periodic background checks of school personnel but the board cannot charge personnel for those checks.

State of the State Address

This week at the legislature began with Governor Roy Cooper delivering his State of the State address to a joint session of the House and Senate on Monday night. The Governor centered his address on building back from the negative impacts of COVID-19. The Governor referenced components of his budget recommendations, and stated that he wants “to see a budget that has three signatures: Speaker Moore’s, Senator Berger’s, and mine.” Among education-related issues, Governor Cooper emphasized the State’s constitutional obligation of providing every student with the opportunity to a sound basic education. Additionally, he called for teacher raises and a school capital bond. Click here for more on the education-related parts of the address.

Bill Chart

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

 

The following additional education-related bills were filed this week.

Statewide Bills

 

Wednesday, May 5

11:00 am – House State Personnel – Legislative Offices Building, rm 415 (live stream)

 

 

 

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 – April 30, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – April 23, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – April 23, 2021

 

The deadline for bills to pass out of their originating chamber in order to “remain eligible” for the rest of the legislative biennium (also known as Crossover) is less than three weeks away. This is why we are starting to see more bills being scheduled for committee hearings. Below we have outlined five important education bills being heard in committee next week, four of which are controversial: HB 284, SB 654, SB 671, and SB 593. We encourage you to reach out to committee members if you have concerns about any of these bills.

Notable Bills in Committee Next Week

HB 284: Repeal Right of Actions/Capital Outlay Fund (primary sponsors, which are all former county commissioners: Representatives Larry Potts, R-Davidson; Bobby Hanig, R-Currituck; Ben Moss, R-Richmond; Mark Pless, R-Haywood) will be heard in the House State Government Committee meeting at 11:00 am on Wednesday, April 28. This bill removes local school boards’ ability to take county commissioners to court if capital funding disputes are not resolved in mediation. If you have concerns about HB 284, we urge you to contact Committee members as soon as possible. This bill is currently scheduled to be heard in three more committees before going to the House floor for a vote. To date, there has not been a lawsuit filed exclusively over capital.

SB 654: K-12 COVID-19 Provisions (primary sponsors: Senators Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Don Davis, D-Pitt; Michael Lee, R-New Hanover) will be heard in the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee meeting at 11:00 am on Wednesday, April 28. This bill provides statewide waivers of school performance grades, annual report cards, and low-performing school identification based on 2020-2021 school year data. SB 654 also includes language that would not permit the use of virtual academies for the 2021-2022 school year. It allows public school units to use up to 5 remote instruction days when schools cannot open due to severe weather or other emergency situations but does NOT allow additional remote instruction days to be used to satisfy the minimum number of instructional days for the school year.

This contrasts with a bill that was filed this week in the House that authorizes the use of remote academies by LEAs. HB 644: Remote Academies (primary sponsors: Representatives Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes; Jason Saine, R-Lincoln; John Torbett, R-Gaston) allows no more than 10% of total student enrollment in the LEA to be enrolled in a remote academy and applies beginning with the 2021-2022 school year (does not include an end date).

SB 671: Changes to the K-12 Scholarship Programs (primary sponsors: Senators Michael Lee, R-New Hanover; Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Amy Galey, R-Alamance) will be heard in the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee meeting at 11:00 am on Wednesday, April 28. Some of the bill’s key points are as follows:

  • Opportunity Scholarships
    • Expands eligibility to students who are at least four years old, if approved by the principal (currently at least five years old by August 31)
    • Increases income eligibility from 150% to 175% of the amount required for the student to qualify for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program
    • Allows students previously enrolled in Department of Defense Elementary and Secondary Schools to qualify for the scholarship
    • Changes the amount paid per voucher from $4,200 to the amount the State pays per charter school student (average was $6,451 in the 2019-2020 school year)
    • Authorizes up to $500,000 to promote the voucher program
  • Merges the Special Education Scholarships for Children with the Disabilities and Personal Education Savings Accounts into a new program called the Personal Education Student Accounts for Children with Disabilities (PESA-CWD)
    • Expands eligibility to students who are at least four years old, if approved by the principal (currently at least five years old by August 31)
    • Clarifies that students with certain disabilities would be eligible for scholarship funds up to $17,000 (this is the combined amount awarded in the previous two programs)
    • States that the total amount of funds carried forward for an eligible student in a personal education student account cannot exceed $30,000

SB 593: Special Education Due Process Hearings (primary sponsors: Senators Brent Jackson, R-Sampson; Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Michael Lee, R-New Hanover) will be heard in the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee meeting at 11:00 am on Wednesday, April 28. While this bill will be for discussion only and will not be voted on in the meeting, it is important because it alters the appeals process for special education due process hearings by eliminating State Hearing Review Officers (SHRO). The SHROs currently review, upon the request of a party, the decisions made by administrative law judges. Should SB 593 become law, such decisions would be appealed in state or federal court.

HB 428: Teacher Licensure/Retired Education Program (primary sponsors: Representatives Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes; Mark Brody, R-Union; Charles Miller, R-Brunswick; Ashton Clemmons, D-Guilford) was approved by the House Education K-12 Committee this week and will be heard in the House Pensions and Retirement Committee meeting at 2:00 pm on Tuesday, April 27. This bill modifies a limited teacher license to be a three-year renewable license (was nonrenewable). The limited license can only be requested by the local school board employing or seeking to employ the individual and can only be used for employment in that LEA. This bill also extends and expands the program that allows retired teachers to work in high-need schools.

School Calendar Flexibility Bills

This week two school calendar flexibility bills passed the House and were sent to the Senate:

  • HB 376: School Calendar Flexibility (primary sponsors: Representatives Phil Shephard, R-Onslow; George Cleveland, R-Onslow; Jimmy Dixon, R-Duplin) is a statewide bill that permits schools to open no earlier than the Monday closest to August 19 (currently August 26). HB 376 passed 114-1.
  • HB 202: School Calendar Flexibility/Certain Counties (primary sponsor: Representative Howard Penny, R-Harnett) provides full calendar flexibility to schools in Harnett, Jackson, and Swain counties. HB 202 passed on a voice vote.

Also this week, the House Local Government Committee approved nine local school calendar bills affecting 21 school districts, and the House State Government Committee approved a modified version of HB 12: Address Pandemic Learning Loss/Counties. HB 12 now gives Alamance-Burlington Schools and Guilford County Schools local control of the school calendar for two years. All 10 local bills have been referred to the House Rules Committee, which is the last stop before a vote on the House floor. Last week two local school calendar flexibility bills passed the House and were sent to the Senate but neither have seen any action: HB 125 and HB 201. All local school calendar flexibility bills affect a total of 45 school districts.

Other Education Bills with Action This Week

HB 545: Mandatory Training Contributing to CEUs (primary sponsors: Representatives Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes; Ashton Clemmons, D-Guilford; John Torbett, R-Gaston) passed the House 115-0 and was sent to the Senate. This bill allows teachers to receive continuing education credits for completing mandatory trainings and modifies the digital teaching and learning renewal requirements for professional educators.

HB 256: Smart Sch. Bus Safety Pilot/Certain Counties (primary sponsors: Representatives Larry Strickland, R-Harnett; John Bell, R-Greene; Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth; Destin Hall, R-Caldwell) was modified and approved by the House Education K-12 Committee and referred to the House Appropriations Committee. This bill establishes the Smart School Bus Safety Pilot Program in 21 LEAs with the goal of modernizing student transportation through technology in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds are appropriated to each participating LEA and the program is set to begin in the 2021-2022 school year and end by January 1, 2025.

Bill Chart

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

 

The State Board of Education met for a called meeting on Monday and approved:

HB 82: Summer Learning Choice for NC Families/SL 2021-7 requires LEAs to provide a voluntary summer learning program for at-risk students (allows for additional students to participate within space available). The SBE approved guidance for the program, as well as a definition of competency-based assessment. SL 2021-7 requires DPI to provide LEAs with a single competency-based assessment tool that will be used to evaluate students’ progression in the program and retention rates for the upcoming school year. DPI is recommending iReady as the assessment tool because it is already widely used in the State, but LEAs may use an alternative assessment tool with approval of DPI’s Office of Learning Recovery.

LEAs are required to identify at-risk students and notify parents or guardians about a student’s eligibility for the summer learning program. Although attendance to the program is optional, LEAs have the authority to retain students who are at-risk and do not participate in the program. With the end of the 2020-2021 school year quickly approaching, it is important to note that LEAs are required to submit a plan for their summer learning program no later than 30 days prior to the last instructional day of this school year. The following are helpful links as districts prepare their plan for the program:

The Board also approved budget considerations for the 10% DPI reserve of federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III funding. Budget considerations include:

  • Extended learning recovery after-school enrichment ($50,000,000)
  • Social-emotional learning resources and programs ($10,000,000)
  • High-impact tutoring ($30,000,000)
  • Cybersecurity ($10,000,000)

There is a total of 17 budget considerations that add up to $248 million. The next step is SBE approval of DPI’s fully developed plans for each budget consideration and policy recommendations. Following Board approval, these budget considerations will need to be appropriated by the General Assembly. Click here to access DPI’s ESSER III budget considerations presentation.

Click here to access all meeting materials.

 

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that child nutrition waivers will be extended through the 2021-2022 school year as the nation continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously the waivers were only extended through September 30, 2021. These waivers allow meals to continue being free for all children and support flexibilities in serving meals while practicing social distancing. Additionally, the USDA’s National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option will be available through the school year. Click here for a USDA press release, and click here for a USDA message to child nutrition leaders.

 

On Wednesday, Governor Roy Cooper announced his plans to lift mandatory social distancing, capacity, and mass gathering restrictions by June 1. These plans are contingent upon continued stable trends and vaccination success. Additionally, the mask mandate would remain in place. Should the capacity and mass gathering restrictions be lifted, this will allow more flexibility for spring graduation ceremonies and what is left of the spring sports season. The Governor will be issuing a new executive order next week outlining safety restrictions for May.

 

The DRIVE (Developing a Representative and Inclusive Vision for Education) Task Force met on Tuesday to discuss its next steps in implementing and advocating for the recommendations and strategies included in the DRIVE Report that was presented to the Governor on January 1, 2021. Task Force members were presented with initiatives, pending legislation, and nonprofit work that relates to the recommendations in the report. The purpose of the Task Force is to improve equity and inclusion in the teacher workforce, with the ultimate goal of improving student success. To read more about the meeting and the Task Force’s report recommendations click here.

 

The following additional education-related bills were filed this week.

Statewide Bills

 

Monday, April 26

7:00 pm – State of the State Address (live stream)

  • Governor Roy Cooper will report on the state of North Carolina and his priorities for the next two years to a joint session of the House and Senate

Tuesday, April 27

10:00 am – House Health Committee – Legislative Offices Building, rm 643 (live stream)

1:00 pm – House Education K-12 – Legislative Offices Building, rm 643 (live stream)

1:00 pm – House Local Government – Legislative Building, rm 1228/1327 (live stream)

2:00 pm – House Pensions and Retirement – Legislative Offices Building, rm 415 (live stream)

Wednesday, April 28

11:00 am – Senate Education/Higher Education – Legislative Offices Building, rm 544 (live stream)

11:00 am – House State Government – Legislative Offices Building, rm 643 (live stream)

 

 

 

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 – April 23, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – April 16, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – April 16, 2021

 

Voucher Bill

On Wednesday HB 32: Equity in Opportunity Act (primary sponsors: Representatives Dean Arp, R-Union; Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke; Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth; Jason Saine, R-Lincoln) passed the House along party lines (69-49), with all Republicans voting yes and all Democrats voting no. Before passing the House, an amendment submitted by Representative Rachel Hunt, D-Mecklenburg, that would have required students in the voucher program to take a common exam to evaluate the effectiveness of the program was voted down. HB 32 in its current state does not include any measurements of student achievement or success. The failed amendment was put into its own bill that was filed on Thursday (see more about HB 569 below). The following are key features of the 15-page bill:

Part I. Opportunity Scholarship Grant Program

  • Expands the definition of eligible beginning student from those entering grades K-1 to students entering grades K-2, beginning spring semester 2021-2022. Added to eligible students are four-year-olds with birthdays on or before April 16 that a school principal deems to be gifted or mature enough for school admittance (currently at least five years old by August 31).
  • Expands eligibility to include students whose parents are honorably discharged from the Armed Services in the past 18 months (income eligibility must be met).
  • Expands financial eligibility to include all foster children.
  • The scholarship grant cap increases from a fixed amount of $4,200 to 70% of the average State per pupil allocation beginning in the 2022-2023 school year. Based on last year’s numbers, the scholarship would increase to $4,646. The formula increases from 70% to 80% in the 2023-2024 school year.

Part II. Personal Education Savings Accounts

  • Merges the Personal Education Savings Accounts program and the Special Education Scholarships for Children with Disabilities program to form the Personal Education Student Accounts for Children with Disabilities.
  • Expands eligibility of students to four-year-olds with birthdays on or before April 16 that a school principal deems to be gifted or mature enough for school admittance (currently at least 5 years old by August 31).
  • Modifies the maximum scholarship amount per eligible student to be based on a percentage formula, rather than a fixed amount. Using last year’s numbers, the maximum amount per scholarship would increase from $9,000 to $10,091.
  • Creates a 10-year funding reserve similar to the voucher program and appropriates money for that reserve.

Part III. Local Funds to Supplement K-12 Scholarships

  • Authorizes the use of county property taxes for supplemental funds for students receiving K-12 scholarships for educational purposes.
  • Beginning in fiscal year 2021-2022, authorizes counties to appropriate up to $1,000 per child who lives in the county and receives a grant from one of the following: Special Education Scholarships for Children with Disabilities, Opportunity Scholarship Grant, and Personal Education Savings Account.

As a reminder, the Senate recently filed a similar version of the House’s voucher bill last week (SB 671). We outlined the major differences between the two bills in last week’s Legislative Update (second bill under Notable Bills Filed This Week).

School Calendar Flexibility Bills

On Tuesday, the House Education K-12 Committee approved 16 local school calendar flexibility bills, as well as one statewide bill. On Wednesday, two of the local bills passed the House and are now in the Senate:

  • HB 125: School Calendar Flexibility/Lenoir County (primary sponsor: Chris Humphrey, R-Lenoir) allows local school boards in Cumberland County, Franklin County, Lenoir County, Nash County, and Pitt County to determine schools’ opening and closing dates.
  • HB 201: Academic Alignment/Certain School Units (primary sponsors: Dean Arp, R-Union; Sarah Stevens, R-Alleghany; Mark Brody, R-Union; David Willis, R-Union) allows school calendar flexibility in Chatham County, Edgecombe County, Elkin City, Martin County, Mount Airy City, Surry County, and Union County if a school is year-round or if a school’s calendar is aligned with the opening date of the local community college.

All 16 local bills affect a total of 37 school districts, and many of the bills were presented as a means to address COVID-19 learning loss. Based on past Senate inaction and Senate Leader Phil Berger being quoted saying “I don’t know that the appetite for school calendar bills has changed”, we are unsure if the bills will be considered in the Senate. 10 of the local bills are scheduled to be heard in the House Local Government Committee meeting next Tuesday, April 20 at 11:00 am (see list of bills under April 19-23 Legislative Meeting Calendar). HB 12, a local bill affecting Alamance-Burlington Schools, and HB 376, a statewide bill, will be heard in the House State Government Committee meeting next Wednesday, April 21 at 11:00 am. For an article covering the progress of these school calendar flexibility bills, as well as other legislative action, click here.

Notable Bills Filed This Week

HB 579: School Self-Defense Act (primary sponsors: Representatives Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus; Mark Brody, R-Union; Keith Kidwell, R-Beaufort) was filed on Wednesday and authorizes certain school personnel to carry a handgun on school grounds to use in response to an act of violence or an imminent threat of violence. The bill sets forth requirements for these “volunteer school faculty guardians” and also clarifies that local school boards have the authority to prohibit the possession of a handgun on school grounds.

HB 569: Enabling Opportunity Scholarship Reporting (primary sponsors: Representatives Cynthia Ball, D-Wake; Rachel Hunt, D-Mecklenburg; Amos Quick, D-Guilford; Graig Meyer, D-Orange) was filed on Wednesday and includes the contents of the amendment to HB 32 (mentioned above) that was voted down on the House floor by the majority party. The bill requires the administration of a common exam to nonpublic and public-school students as a means to measure student achievement in the opportunity scholarship grant program. The bill provides appropriations for the selection of an independent organization to conduct research and report its evaluations.

For a list of other education-related bills filed this week look under Bills Filed near the end of the Update.

Bill Chart

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

 

On Tuesday, the Joint Legislative Committee on Governmental Operations, which is chaired by Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore, voted to launch an investigation into the NC High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA). The investigation comes as lawmakers say that the NCHSAA, a nonprofit organization that receives state tax dollars, has accumulated too much money compared to other state associations. Tuesday’s meeting was followed by appointments to the Subcommittee on Interscholastic Athletics, which had their first meeting on Thursday. The Thursday meeting consisted of discussion and questioning of NCHSAA commissioner Que Tucker about the Association’s total assets of more than $40 million, the competitive imbalance in 1A athletics, and the Association’s service to its member schools. Tucker stated that these concerns will be the focus of the next NCHSAA board meeting in May. Click here to access an article on the Thursday meeting.

Additionally, SB 548: Interscholastic Athletics (primary sponsors: Senators Todd Johnson, R-Union; Tom McInnis, R-Richmond; Vickie Sawyer, R-Iredell), which was filed last week, authorizes the State Auditor to conduct an audit of the NCHSAA’s finances.

 

During a hearing this week on the decades-long Leandro case, Judge David Lee stated that rather than telling the legislature how much money they need to spend, he wants “this to be a cooperative effort with everyone having the same goal in mind.” This hearing follows the State Board of Education’s and DPI’s submission of their Comprehensive Remedial Plan on Monday, March 15, which currently calls for State spending of $5.6 billion over the next eight years. The purpose of the hearing was to discuss the necessary motion that would turn this remedial plan into a legal requirement of the State to abide by its constitutional obligation of providing every student with the opportunity to a sound, basic education. For more on the hearing, click here.

 

NC families have another chance to receive $335 in coronavirus relief through the 2020 NC Extra Credit Grant. The NC Department of Health and Human Services is working with the NC Department of Revenue to share information that explains if an individual with a dependent child who was 16 or younger at the end of 2019 is eligible for the $335 extra credit grant. If families with children did not receive this coronavirus relief payment last fall, click here for another chance to apply through May 31, 2021. Click here for a video that explains eligibility and the application process.

 

On Wednesday, a press conference led by SAS CEO Jim Goodnight reiterated business leaders’ plea to address and improve early literacy in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The press conference included eight business leaders, as well as State Superintendent Catherine Truitt, State Board of Education Chair Eric Davis, and UNC System Senior Vice President for Strategy and Policy Andrew Kelly. The business leaders expressed support for SB 387: Excellent Public Schools Act of 2021/SL 2021-8 and called on the State to more adequately fund NC Pre-K and science of reading training. To read more about the press conference, click here.

 

This week Governor Cooper announced new appointments and nominations to North Carolina boards and commissions. The following individuals were nominated to serve on the State Board of Education:

  • Eric Davis as a representative for the 6th educational district, who currently serves as the Board Chair
    • Currently serves as a member at-large
  • Alan Duncan as a representative for the 5th educational district, who currently serves as the Board Vice Chair
  • Melody Chalmers McClain as a representative for the 4th educational district
    • Replacing Dr. Olivia Oxendine
  • Ronald Hargrave as a member at-large
    • Replacing J.B. Buxton who left the Board to serve as the President of Durham Technical Community College

 

The following additional education-related bills were filed this week.

Statewide Bills

  • HB 545: Mandatory Training Contributing to CEUs (primary sponsors: Representatives Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes; Ashton Clemmons; D-Guilford; John Torbett, R-Gaston)
    • CEUs stands for continuing education units
  • HB 550: Free Breakfast & Lunch in Pub. Sch. Units (primary sponsors: Representatives Cecil Brockman, D-Guilford; Amos Quick, D-Guilford; John Autry, D-Mecklenburg; Rosa Gill, D-Wake)
  • HB 555: 2021 Governor’s Budget (primary sponsors: Representatives Jason Saine, R-Lincoln; Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth; Dean Arp, R-Union; John Faircloth, R-Guilford)
    • This bill contains the Governor’s budget recommendations that were released on Wednesday, March 24
    • Companion bill to SB 622
  • HB 558: Prohibit Mandatory CV19 Vaccinations (primary sponsors: Representatives Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus; Keith Kidwell, R-Beaufort)
    • This bill makes it unlawful to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine in NC, to require proof of vaccination, to discriminate in public spaces or employment based on vaccine status, to mandate vaccine tracking, and to require the waiving of privacy rights to obtain a vaccine
  • HB 567: 2021 Youth END Act (primary sponsors: Representatives Gale Adcock, D-Wake; Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth; Becky Carney, D-Mecklenburg; Cynthia Ball, D-Wake)
  • HB 568: Youth Mentoring Services Act (primary sponsors: Representatives Graig Meyer, D-Orange; Jon Hardister, R-Guilford; Ricky Hurtado, D-Alamance)
  • HB 576: Marijuana Justice and Reinvestment Act (primary sponsors: Representatives Graig Meyer, D-Orange; Raymond Smith, D-Sampson; John Ager, D-Buncombe; Terry Brown, D-Mecklenburg)
    • Companion bill to SB 646
    • See page 16, lines 1-4
  • HB 580: My Body, My Choice Medical Privacy Act (primary sponsors: Keith Kidwell, R-Beaufort; Bobby Hanig, R-Currituck; Edward Goodwin, R-Bertie)
  • HB 586: Allow Public Employee Collective Bargaining (primary sponsors: Representatives Terry Brown, D-Mecklenburg; Zack Hawkins, D-Durham; John Autry, D-Mecklenburg; Vernetta Alston, D-Durham)
  • HB 591: Fines and Forfeitures/Payments to Schools (primary sponsor: Representative James Galliard, D-Nash)
    • This bill directs excess receipts in the Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund to be transferred to the School Technology Fund in the same fiscal year and any capital funds for school technology to be used toward the payment of the $730 million in school technology funding owed to public schools, per a 2008 court judgment
  • HB 592: Remove Restriction on Public School Cap. Fund (primary sponsor: Representative James Galliard, D-Nash)
  • SB 717: Taxpayer Bill of Rights (primary sponsors: Senators Paul Newton, R-Cabarrus; Warren Daniel, R-Burke; Bill Rabon, R-Bladen)
    • One of the many things that this bill requires is that voters approve all local tax changes

Local Bill

 

Tuesday, April 20

11:00 am – House Local Government – Legislative Offices Building, rm 415 (live stream)

2:00 pm – House Pensions and Retirement – Legislative Offices Building, rm 415 (live stream)

4:00 pm – House Education K-12 – Legislative Offices Building, rm 643 (live stream)

Wednesday, April 21

11:00 am – House State Government – Legislative Offices Building, rm 643 (live stream)

The following are two additional meetings being held 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 – April 16, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – April 9, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – April 9, 2021

 

Despite the legislature not holding session or committee meetings this week due to their spring break, a whopping 248 bills were filed. This is compared to most weeks which average around 100 bills filed. Most bills were filed by Senators prior to the Senate public bill filing deadline on Wednesday. The House still has until May 4 to file public bills and May 11 to file public money bills. Of the 248 bills filed this week, 38 are education-related (see list below). We have provided summaries of some of the filed bills. Bill content ranges from teacher pay increases to school capital to early education.

Today the Governor signed the following education bills into law:

For summaries of these bills, click here to access last week’s Legislative Update.

Notable Bills Filed This Week

SB 654: K-12 COVID-19 Provisions (primary sponsors: Senators Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Don Davis, D-Pitt; Michael Lee, R-New Hanover)

  • Waives the reporting of school performance grades, annual report cards, and low performing school identification based on 2020-2021 school year data
  • Provides remote instruction guidance, clarification on principal recruitment supplements, and context on teacher performance/effectiveness data for the 2021-2022 school year

SB 671: Changes to the K-12 Scholarship Programs (primary sponsors: Senators Michael Lee, R-New Hanover; Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Amy Galey, R-Alamance) has many similarities to HB 32: Equity in Opportunity Act (primary sponsors: Representatives Dean Arp, R-Union; Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke; Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth; Jason Saine, R-Lincoln), but also has the following major differences:

  • Does not include a 10-year appropriated reserve for education savings accounts
  • Does not allow counties to fund vouchers
  • Increases income eligibility from 150% to 175% of the amount required for the student to qualify for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program
  • Changes the amount paid per voucher from $4,200 to the amount the State pays per charter school student
    • HB 32 increases the voucher from $4,200 to 70% of the average State per pupil allocation beginning in the 2022-2023 school year and further increases to 80% in the 2023-2024 school year

HB 497: Support Veteran Teachers (primary sponsor: Representative Brenden Jones, R-Columbus)/SB 551: Support Veteran Teachers (primary sponsor: Senator Danny Britt, R-Robeson)

  • Raises base salaries for teachers with 15-24 years of experience from $5,000 to $5,250 per month and for teachers with 25 or more years of experience from $5,200 to $5,460

SB 700: Balanced Political Discussion in Classrooms (primary sponsors: Senators Chuck Edwards, R-Henderson; Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth; Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell)

  • Applies to all public school units (PSUs), except charter schools
  • Requires curriculum, professional development, and teaching standards used in public school classrooms to reflect balanced political viewpoints
  • When the viewpoint of one of the two major political parties is presented by whatever means in a classroom or other area of the school, the viewpoint of the alternative political party must also be presented and given equal weight during the same instructional unit
  • Requires applicable PSUs to post to their website a list of instructional materials, activities, and any procedures for approval of those materials
    • Applicable PSUs with less than 500 students are not required to comply with this requirement

SB 514: Youth Health Protection Act (primary sponsors: Senators Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell; Warren Daniel, R-Caldwell; Norman Sanderson, R-Carteret)

  • Requires school personnel that notice a student demonstrating gender dysphoria or nonconformity to immediately notify, in writing, each of the student’s parents or guardians and specifically describe the circumstances
  • States that school personnel will be disciplined if they withhold information or coerce a student to withhold information from their parents regarding the student’s physical and mental health

Attention School Board Attorneys

SB 593: Special Education Due Process Hearings (primary sponsors: Senators Brent Jackson, R-Sampson; Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Michael Lee, R-New Hanover), which was filed on Tuesday, alters the appeals process for special education due process hearings by eliminating State Hearing Review Officers (SHRO). The SHROs currently review, upon the request of a party, the decisions made by administrative law judges. Should the bill become law, such decisions would be appealed in state or federal court.

We are asking school board attorneys to review SB 593 and provide any concerns or feedback to Bruce Mildwurf, Director of Governmental Relations, at bmildwurf@ncsba.org.

Attention School Finance Officers

HB 159: Education Law Changes (primary sponsors: Representatives John Torbett, R-Gaston; Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke), which passed the House last week and is now in the Senate, contains a school nutrition section that we would like to bring to the attention of school finance officers and others involved in this area. This bill prohibits public school units from assessing indirect costs to a school nutrition program unless the program has a minimum of three month’s operating balance (currently is one month). Additionally, the bill adds a new requirement prohibiting public school units from assessing indirect costs that are more than 8% of a school nutrition program’s annual budget per fiscal year. If this provision is a concern for your district, please contact your State Senator and the House bill sponsors, as well as Bruce Mildwurf, Director of Governmental Relations, at bmildwurf@ncsba.org.

Attention School Finance Officers and Superintendents

HB 508: Education Funding Transparency (primary sponsor: Representative Mike Clampitt, R-Swain), which was filed this week, contains local school board budget reporting requirements that we would like to bring to the attention of school finance officers and superintendents. HB 508 is a companion bill of SB 406: Education Funding Transparency (primary sponsors: Senators Chuck Edwards, R-Henderson; Vickie Sawyer, R-Iredell; Kevin Corbin, R-Macon). The bills do the following:

  • Require reporting on local education expenditures and annual independent audits of LEA accounts to include program report code and object code
  • Require local school boards to submit their annual budgets to county commissioners with detail on local funds down to the program report code and object code level
  • Allow county commissioners to appropriate local funds at the program report code level

Next Week

The legislative meeting calendar is quickly filling up for next week, most notably in the House Education K-12 Committee meeting on Tuesday, April 13 at 1:00 pm (live stream). The Committee’s agenda currently includes 13 local school calendar flexibility bills that affect a total of 19 counties. Some bills are focused on combatting pandemic learning loss and expire within the next few school years, while others do not include a sunset date. See the April 12-16 Legislative Meeting Calendar section at the end of the Update for the list of bills, including links.

Bill Chart

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

 

The SBE met for their monthly meeting on Wednesday and Thursday this week. Board members were presented with the following:

Testing and accountability updates: The State’s federal waiver request to the U.S. Department of Education was approved on March 26 and waives the State from accountability measures, school identification, and some reporting requirements for the 2020-2021 school year. Despite this waiver, national assessments are still required and will be administered in-person. These assessments include grades 3-8 reading and math, grades 5 and 8 science, and high school end-of-course tests (EOCs). State Superintendent Catherine Truitt stated that her team will provide recommendations on how much end-of-grade tests (EOGs) and EOCs will count towards students’ grades. Following the approval of the federal waiver, the next step is to submit a waiver request from State accountability measures to the General Assembly, which was previously approved by the SBE. DPI presenters said that they will be tracking SB 654: K-12 COVID-19 Provisions, which was filed by Senate leadership on Tuesday and would waive school performance grades, annual report cards, and low-performing school identification based 2020-2021 school year data.

ESSER III application, draft allotments, and allotment policy: Board members approved the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III (ESSER III) funding application, draft allotments, and allotment policy. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides NC with $3.6 billion in ESSER III funds, $3.2 billion (90%) of which will go directly to public school units (PSUs). The following are ESSER III funding requirements for PSUs:

  • At least 20% must be used to address learning loss
  • PSUs must create a safe return to in-person instruction plan
  • PSUs must maintain equity in high-poverty schools (funding levels cannot be disproportionately lowered)

Like ESSER II, PSUs are required to apply for funding. DPI plans to open the application on April 12 and expects to receive submitted applications by May 7 in order to process them during this current fiscal year. DPI staff also provided an informative presentation on ESSER I, II, and III allotment policies, which includes total funds, funding uses, and expiration dates.

StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit: The Board voted to approve the current version of the StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit (updated on March 24, 2021) as official guidance for in-person instruction for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year, unless otherwise extended or modified. The motion to approve the Toolkit included language saying that the Board’s approval does not override the requirements of SB 220: The Reopen Our Schools Act of 2021/SL 2021-4, which requires compliance with the Toolkit as that guidance existed on March 4, 2021. The SBE, DPI, and NCSBA have been trying to work with legislators to modify the language in SB 220. To date, legislative leaders have not been willing to do so. We will continue our efforts next week as legislators return from their weeklong vacation.

DHHS COVID-19 update: DHHS staff presented updates to the StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit, including the recommendation that school entry screenings are no longer necessary. DHHS still recommends testing as a component of mitigation strategies in K-12 schools, and these tests will continue to be offered at no cost to schools for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year. Staff added that they are submitting a funding request and plan to the CDC for a statewide vendor to support screening testing in schools. Additionally, students who are 16 or older are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The presentation concluded with joint DHHS/DPI guidance on prom and graduation, which includes compliance with current capacity limits, requirement of face coverings, and utilization of rapid tests. Click here to access the DHHS presentation that includes data, resources, and guidance.

Click here to access all meeting materials.

Click here for an article summarizing the meeting.

The following additional education-related bills were filed this week.

Statewide Bills

Local Bills

 

Tuesday, April 13

1:00 pm – House Local Government – Legislative Building, rm 1228/1327 (live stream)

1:00 pm – House Education K-12 – Legislative Offices Building, rm 643 (live stream)

Wednesday, April 14

12:00 pm – House Judiciary – Legislative Offices Building, rm 643 (live stream)

 

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 – April 9, 2021
read more