Rebekah Howard

NCSBA Legislative Update – February 12, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – February 12, 2021

 

On Wednesday, Governor Cooper announced that the State will be providing COVID-19 vaccination prioritization for anyone working in childcare or PreK-12 schools. This modification moves teachers and school staff to top priority of Group 3 vaccinations, and they are eligible to start receiving the vaccine on February 24. According to a letter addressed to local leaders today, DHHS Secretary Cohen explained that this “does not guarantee they will get an appointment or get vaccinated between February 24 and March 10 because of very limited supply.”

Governor Cooper’s vaccine prioritization announcement comes amid legislative debate on the reopening of schools. SB 37: In-Person Learning Choice for Families (primary sponsors: Senators Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Michael Lee, R-New Hanover; and Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell) passed the Senate late Tuesday, then rushed through a House Education K-12 Committee meeting on Wednesday morning where no amendments were allowed. The bill was later approved by the House Rules Committee and reached the House floor for a vote only 24 hours after appearing in the first House committee. House Republicans rejected seven Democrat-proposed amendments on the floor, including:

  1. Modifying the requirement that ALL students with an individualized education program (IEP) or a 504 plan must be in Plan A
  2. Extending the bill implementation date to the first workday 21 days after becoming law
  3. Adding charter schools to the bill
  4. Requiring middle and high schools to only reopen under Plan B

Before SB 37 passed the House 74-44, it was amended to address reasonable work accommodations for certain classroom teachers. The Senate voted unanimously not to concur with the changes made by the House. Conference committees have been appointed and negotiations to work out a compromise are said to be happening this weekend. Additionally, SB 37 does the following:

  • Requires local school boards to provide:
    • An in-person Plan A option for ALL students who have an IEP or a 504 Plan
  • An in-person Plan A or Plan B option for all other students in grades K-12 (boards may opt for all Plan A, all Plan B, or a combination thereof)
  • A remote option for families that wish to have this option
  • Allows local school boards to shift individual schools or classrooms to remote learning due to COVID-19 exposures that result in insufficient staff or required student quarantines
  • Requires that the bill be implemented on the first workday that occurs 15 days after becoming law

It is unclear what action Governor Cooper would have taken had the Senate voted to concur. He has expressed concerns that SB 37 does not abide by DHHS’s health and safety guidance outlined in the Toolkit. The bill also takes away executive branch authority to take immediate action of closing schools, should another outbreak take place. Given the vote counts on SB 37 (29-15 in the Senate and 74-44 in the House), both chambers appear to have the numbers to override a veto, assuming each member votes the same way and the Republican Senators who were not present vote to override. We may have better clarity on next steps once the conferees publicly release their compromise bill.

On Wednesday, another school reopening bill was filed. SB 78: A Safe Return for In-Person Learning (primary sponsors: Senators Don Davis, D-Pitt; Dan Blue, D-Wake) would allow elementary schools to reopen under Plan A or Plan B, but middle and high schools could only reopen under Plan B. The bill incorporates many of the proposed amendments that were voted down on the House floor. SB 78 would also require DPI to examine and report the impacts of reopening schools to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee. SB 78 will most likely not be heard in committee because the majority party is already moving forward with SB 37.

Click here for an article summarizing this week’s action on the reopening of schools.

 

Bills in the Spotlight

SB 36: 2020 COVID Relief Bill Modifications (HB 42) (primary sponsors: Senators Brent Jackson, R-Sampson; Kathy Harrington, R-Gaston; Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell)

  • Signed into Session Law 2021-1 on Wednesday, February 10

The following are key K-12 education sections:

Section 3.2 extends the deadline for spending appropriations from the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) from December 30, 2020 to December 31, 2021 for the following programs:

  • DPI – National School Lunch Program ($75 million)
  • DPI – Instructional Support Allotment ($10 million)
  • DPI – Supplemental Summer Learning Program ($70 million)
  • DPI – Extended Learning and Integrated Student Supports Competitive Grant Program ($5 million)
  • UNC (SEAA) – Alternative educational option scholarships for disabled students ($6.5 million)
  • YMCAs – Remote learning opportunities ($19.8 million)

Section 3.12 extends the deadline for State agencies to procure COVID-19 supplies, materials, equipment, printing, or services from the open market from December 30, 2020 to December 31, 2021.

Section 5 appropriates $1.6 billion to DPI from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund II (ESSER II) in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, P.L. 116-260. DPI must receive approval from the Director of the Budget to spend the federal funds. Positions created with these funds shall terminate at the earlier of the funds being fully expended or the federal deadline for spending the funds. Recipient public school units must report quarterly to DPI beginning March 1, 2021 on the following:

  • Amount of federal funds received
  • Amount of grant funds expended
  • How the funds were used, including program information such as number of people served and geographic distribution
  • The amount spent on administration
  • The amount of funds that remained unspent
  • The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) positions established with funds received and, for each FTE established, a position number, position status, date the position was established, hire date, and date on which the position is to be abolished

Click here for a summary by the National School Boards Association on how the federal funds may be used.

SB 52: Sex Offender Residence Restriction/Clarify (primary sponsors: Senators Vickie Sawyer, R-Iredell; Jim Perry, R-Lenoir; Todd Johnson, R-Union)

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on February 10 to discuss a revised version of SB 52. Currently it is unlawful for a registered sex offender to reside within 1,000 feet of the property where a school or childcare center is located. SB 52 clarifies that a registered sex offender shall not knowingly reside on any point of a property whose line is within 1,000 feet of the property line of a property on which any public or nonpublic school or childcare center is located. The bill would become effective December 1, 2021 and apply to all persons registered or required to register on or after that date. It does not apply to a person who has lawfully established a residence prior to the effective date of the bill.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to meet on February 16 at 11:00 am to vote on the bill.

SB 59: Restore Master’s Pay for Certain Educators (primary sponsors: Senators Danny Britt, R-Robeson; Vickie Sawyer, R-Iredell; Jim Perry, R-Lenoir)

This bill would reinstate master’s pay supplements for teachers who spend at least 70% of their classroom instruction time on the subject area of their master’s degree.

 

Bills Filed

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

HB 69: Education on the Holocaust and Genocide (primary sponsors: Representatives Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes; Julia Howard, R-Davie; Wayne Sasser, R-Cabarrus; Robert Reives, D-Chatham)

HB 70: Historic School Preservation Act (primary sponsors: Representatives Jay Adams, R-Catawba; Kristin Baker, R-Cabarrus; Jon Hardister, R-Guilford; Harry Warren, R-Rowan)

HB 71: Living Donor Protection Act (primary sponsors: Representatives Phil Shepard, R-Onslow; Pat Hurley, R-Randolph; Marcia Morey, D-Durham; Larry Potts, R-Davidson)

  • This bill provides State employees, including public school employees, up to 30 days of paid leave for an organ donation and up to seven days paid leave for a bone marrow donation.

HB 72: Audiology Modifications (primary sponsors: Representatives Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth; Kristin Baker, R-Cabarrus; Donna White, R-Johnston; Carla Cunningham, D-Mecklenburg)

  • This bill updates definitions and responsibilities of audiologists, which includes school-based screening programs and management of students with hearing impairments and central auditory processing disorders.

HB 74: ApSeed Pilot Project/Funds (primary sponsors: Representatives Harry Warren, R-Rowan; Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke; Julia Howard, R-Davie; Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth)

  • This bill establishes a pilot project to prepare preschool-age children for            kindergarten through an interactive learning device.

HB 77: School Calendar Flexibility/Moore County (primary sponsors: Representatives James Boles, R-Moore; Allen McNeill, R-Moore)

HB 78: Report on K-12 Computer Science Data (primary sponsors: Representatives Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke; Ashton Clemmons, D-Guilford; Jefferey Elmore, R-Wilkes; Pat Hurley, R-Randolph)

HB 79: Student Digital Learning Access (primary sponsors: Representatives Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke; Ashton Clemmons, D-Guilford; Jefferey Elmore, R-Wilkes; Pat Hurley, R-Randolph)

SB 81: Teacher Diversity/PED Study (primary sponsors: Senators Don Davis, D-Pitt; Kirk deViere, D-Cumberland)

SB 86: Medicaid Recs./CWBTC (primary sponsors: Senators Joyce Krawiec, R-Davie; Jim Burgin, R-Harnett; Jim Perry, R-Lenoir)

SB 87: Medicaid Reimbursement/Charter Schools (primary sponsors: Senators Joyce Krawiec, R-Davie; Jim Burgin, R-Harnett; Jim Perry, R-Lenoir)

 

Local Bill Filing Deadline

The local bill filing deadline is quickly approaching for both the House and the Senate. If a local bill is needed this legislative session, the proposed bill must be submitted to legislative staff for drafting by:

  • Thursday, February 25 in the Senate
  • Wednesday, March 3 in the House

A legislator must file a local bill by:

  • Thursday, March 11 in the Senate
  • Thursday, March 25 in the House

 

Bill Chart

Click here for a chart of all education-related bills filed so far during the 2021 legislative session, including NCSBA’s stance on each bill.

 

State revenues have weathered the COVID-19 pandemic better than anticipated. The Governor’s Office of State Budget and Management released a Consensus General Fund Revenue Forecast yesterday that shows revenue for this fiscal year (2020-2021) will be $4.1 billion greater than was forecast in May 2020. This surplus can be attributed to several factors:

  1. $1.08 billion was shifted from last fiscal year to this fiscal year due to a delay in tax filings
  2. Federal stimulus funds underpinned the State economy with consumer spending from unemployment funds, business loans/grants, and checks to families
  3. Many businesses adapted to working under COVID-19 restrictions

The good news is that the recurring revenue forecast for the next biennium is greater than the current year budget of $24.48 billion. Revenues are projected to be $27.35 billion in FY 2021-2022 and $28.46 billion in FY 2022-2023. This forecast assumes that new COVID-19 cases decline as the population gets vaccinated and that Congress will provide additional stimulus funding.

Click here to access the State revenue forecast.

 

North Carolina’s Education Cabinet met on Wednesday to discuss findings and recommendations of a NC Longitudinal Data System (NCLDS) study, as well as a report from the DRIVE Task Force on diversifying the State’s teacher workforce. The NCLDS links student data from early childhood through the workforce, which aids the creation of policy and improvement tactics regarding student outcomes. The Education Cabinet is chaired by the Governor and is comprised of numerous State education leaders with the goal to “resolve issues between existing providers of education and developing and maintaining a strategic design for a continuum of education programs, from early childhood into the workforce.”

Click here to access the Education Cabinet’s meeting agenda and materials.

Click here to access an article summarizing the Education Cabinet’s meeting.

 

NCSBA has been maintaining a chart containing each LEA’s reopening plan for the 2020-2021 school year. We know that many school districts’ plans are constantly changing, so please let us know if our chart does not reflect your district’s most updated reopening plan information. Click here to access the chart.

 

Tuesday, February 16

11:00 am – Senate Judiciary Committee – Legislative Offices Building, rm 544 (live stream)

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

Wednesday, February 17

8:30 am – House and Senate Appropriations Committees – Legislative Offices Building, rm 643 (live stream)

 

 

 

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.org
(919) 747-6692

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
rbostic@ncsba.org
(919) 747-6677

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
rhoward@ncsba.org
(919) 747-6688

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – February 12, 2021
read more
NCSBA Legislative Update – February 5, 2020

NCSBA Legislative Update – February 5, 2020

 

Reopening of Schools

Additional legislative and executive action was taken this week to push for statewide in-person school instruction. SB 37: In-Person Learning Choice for Families, was filed on Monday and passed second reading by 29-16 in the Senate on Thursday. The Senate is scheduled to take its final vote on this bill on Tuesday, February 9, and then it will go to the House. (See bill summary below). Additionally, on Tuesday, Governor Cooper joined State Superintendent Catherine Truitt, DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, and SBE Chair Eric Davis in a call to resume in-person instruction in K-12 schools statewide. Click here to read the joint letter sent by State leaders to school board members and superintendents. When asked if he will sign SB 37 into law, Governor Cooper stated that he had not read the bill but has heard some concerns. Governor Cooper is not mandating statewide in-person instruction, but rather strongly encouraging local school boards to consider the data showing low rates of COVID-19 transmission in schools, as well as the negative effects that remote instruction has on students. DHHS released the following health and safety guidance for in-person instruction:

On Thursday, Governor Cooper released an emergency budget plan that includes a $2,500 bonus for public school teachers and principals and a $1,500 bonus for noncertified school employees. The emergency budget allocates federal COVID-19 relief funds, and implementation of this emergency budget requires legislative approval. Click here for an article covering the push for statewide in-person school instruction and the Governor’s emergency budget.

SB 37: In-Person Learning Choice for Families (primary sponsors: Senators Ballard, R-Watauga; Lee, R-New Hanover; and Hise, R-Mitchell)

This bill requires local school boards to provide:

  • An in-person Plan A option for all students who have an individualized education program (IEP) or a 504 Plan
  • An in-person Plan A or Plan B option for all students who are in grades K-12 (boards may opt for all Plan A, all Plan B, or a combination thereof)
  • A remote option for families that wish to have this option

SB 37 allows local school boards to shift individual schools or classrooms to remote learning due to COVID-19 exposures that result in insufficient staff or required student quarantines. Any move to remote learning must be reported to DPI within 72 hours. The bill will be implemented on the first workday that occurs 15 days after becoming law.

 

Bills in the Spotlight

SB 36: 2020 COVID Relief Bill Modifications (HB 42) (primary sponsors: Senators Brent Jackson, R-Sampson; Kathy Harrington, R-Gaston; Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell)

  • Passed by the Senate and the House and presented to the Governor on Thursday, February 4

The following are some key K-12 education sections:

Section 3.2 extends the deadline for spending appropriations from the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) from December 30, 2020 to December 31, 2021 for the following programs:

  • DPI – National School Lunch Program ($75 million)
  • DPI – Instructional Support Allotment ($10 million)
  • DPI – Supplemental Summer Learning Program ($70 million)
  • DPI – Extended Learning and Integrated Student Supports Competitive Grant Program ($5 million)
  • UNC (SEAA) – Alternative educational option scholarships for disabled students ($6.5 million)
  • YMCAs – Remote learning opportunities ($19.8 million)

Section 3.12 extends the deadline for State agencies to procure COVID-19 supplies, materials, equipment, printing, or services from the open market from December 30, 2020 to December 31, 2021.

Section 5 appropriates $1.6 billion to DPI from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund II (ESSER II) in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, P.L. 116-260. DPI must receive approval from the Director of the Budget to spend the federal funds. Positions created with these funds shall terminate at the earlier of the funds being fully expended or the federal deadline for spending the funds. Recipient public school units must report quarterly to DPI beginning March 1, 2021 on the following:

  • Amount of federal funds received
  • Amount of grant funds expended
  • How the funds were used, including program information such as number of people served and geographic distribution
  • The amount spent on administration
  • The amount of funds that remained unspent
  • The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) positions established with funds received and, for each FTE established, a position number, position status, date the position was established, hire date, and date on which the position is to be abolished

According to the National School Boards Association (NSBA), the new federal funds may be used the same as CARES Act funds plus the following spending categories:

  1. Addressing learning loss among students
  2. School facility repairs/improvements that help reduce risk of virus transmission and exposure to other environmental health hazards
  3. Inspection, testing, maintenance, repair, and replacement projects to improve the indoor air quality of school facilities

Click here to read the full bill summary by NSBA.

HB 12: Address Pandemic Learning Loss/Alamance County (primary sponsors: Representatives Riddell, R-Alamance and Hurtado, D-Alamance)

  • Referred to the House Education K-12 Committee

This is a local bill that provides Alamance-Burlington Schools with additional options to address pandemic learning loss through the end of the 2022-2023 school year.

NCSBA supports this bill because it provides additional options for local control, which is a request in NCSBA’s 2021 Legislative Agenda. If you agree with HB 12 and want a similar bill filed for your school district, contact your legislative delegation.

HB 32: Equity in Opportunity Act (primary sponsors: Representatives Arp, R-Union; Blackwell, R-Burke; Lambeth, R-Forsyth and Saine, R-Lincoln)

  • Referred to the House Education K-12 Committee

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).
  • 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

  • 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.

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.

 

Bills Filed

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

 

The 2021 NCSBA Legislative Agenda was approved by the NCSBA Delegate Assembly on Thursday, January 7. Following the approval of the agenda, the NCSBA Governmental Relations Team has been creating issue briefs on each agenda item. See links for completed issue briefs below. We will provide links to additional issue briefs in next week’s legislative update.

 

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

K-12 social studies standards: The SBE voted 7-5 to approve draft five of the new K-12 social studies standards, which also includes a preamble written by State Superintendent Truitt. The vote was roughly split along party lines. Prior to the approval of the draft five standards, a substitute motion to approve draft four of the standards was voted on with only two Board members voting “yes”. The changes from draft four to draft five include replacing “systemic racism”, “gender identity” and “systemic discrimination” with “racism”, “identity”, and “discrimination”, respectively. With SBE approval of these standards, DPI staff will now begin the implementation process. For more on Board member discussion, click here.

2020-2021 legislative and budget priorities: Board members unanimously approved their legislative and budget priorities for this session. The priorities reflect the Leandro action plan, the SBE’s strategic plan, and Superintendent Truitt’s vision. The priorities totaling $184,717,140 are divided into the following categories:

  • Addressing statewide learning challenges and recovery ($31,782,940)
  • Student mental health, wellbeing, and school safety ($55,896,000)
  • Education workforce development – teacher and principal recruitment and retention ($7,478,700)
  • Connecting middle/high school students to post-secondary and career opportunities ($12,854,500)
  • School business system modernization ($28,900,000 non-recurring; $37,355,000 recurring)

Click here to read more about each category.

DHHS COVID-19 update: DHHS staff began their presentation with statewide metrics, including age group data showing that case count is lowest among the State’s youngest population. Additionally, reports of K-12 cluster-related cases in both public and private schools account for only .15% of total cases in the State. DHHS staff identified numerous studies that reaffirm the low rates of COVID-19 transmission in schools, despite higher community transmission rates. Updated health and safety guidance for schools was also provided, as the State progresses to returning more students to in-person learning. DHHS released the following health and safety guidance for in-person instruction:

State Superintendent Truitt’s vision and priorities: During her State Superintendent’s Report, Superintendent Truitt presented her North Star, as well as three guiding priorities to transform public education in the State. Literacy, testing and accountability, and human capital will guide the Superintendent’s efforts as she works towards her long-term goal of every student benefitting from a highly qualified, excellent teacher. Superintendent Truitt also reaffirmed her commitment to working with the SBE, the General Assembly, and teachers to achieve this vision.

ESSER II draft allotments: SBE members were presented with draft allotments for the $1.6 billion the State will receive from the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund II. 90% of the funds will go to public school units, while 10% will be used for administrative costs at DPI. Click here to view the draft allotments.

2021-2022 Allotted ADM: The Board heard from DPI staff about the declining average daily membership (ADM) in traditional public schools, which can be attributed to lower birth rates, decrease in the 5-17 age population, increase in homeschools and charter schools, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to access the full presentation.

Click here to access an article summarizing the meeting.

Click here to access all meeting materials.

 

NCSBA has been maintaining a chart containing each LEA’s reopening plan for the 2020-2021 school year. We know that many school districts’ plans are constantly changing, so please let us know if our chart does not reflect your district’s most updated reopening plan information. Click here to access the chart.

 

 

 

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.org
(919) 747-6692

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
rbostic@ncsba.org
(919) 747-6677

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
rhoward@ncsba.org
(919) 747-6688

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – February 5, 2020
read more
NCSBA Legislative Update – January 29, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – January 29, 2021

 

Reopening of Schools

In a Thursday press release titled “Legislators Working on Bill to Reopen Schools”, Republican Senate leaders announced that they are drafting legislation that is “expected to require all school districts to operate in-person in some capacity while still providing parents with the option of all-virtual learning if they so choose.” The press release stated that a formal proposal is expected in the coming days. NCSBA is working to obtain additional information about this draft legislation, and we will relay our findings as they are received.

Prior to this press release, a report authored by scientists with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was published, stating that the rapid spread of COVID-19 that has been seen in places like congregate living facilities and high-density worksites is not being reported in school settings. In a press conference on Wednesday, Governor Cooper asked local school boards, superintendents, and health officials to look at this latest report from CDC sources about safely reopening public schools.

Bills Filed

The General Assembly convened on Wednesday, January 27 and got straight to work filing bills. The following are education-related bills:

Attention School Finance Officers

HB 18: Local School Administrative Unit Cash Management is a bill that school district finance officers should read and follow the progress of this session. HB 18 simplifies compliance with the State’s “Ultimate Payee Law” within the State Controller’s cash management statute and will facilitate implementation of the DPI School Business Modernization Development Process.

The cash management statute requires that “Moneys deposited with the State Treasurer (shall) remain on deposit with the State Treasurer until final disbursement to the ultimate payee.” The intent of this law is to prevent payments to a non-State account for further disbursement, which would result in potential interest earnings losses.

In 2020, the State Treasurer’s office identified a challenge during the pilot testing for the DPI School Business Modernization Development Process software implementation. Without the change contemplated in this legislation, the new software could potentially make LEAs not compliant with the State Controller’s statute.

HB 18 gives LEAs four business days to move funds from the State Treasury to the ultimate payee. This four-day period is equal to the federal cash management practice. Consequently, this bill helps LEAs remain in compliance with the State’s cash management requirements.

Plans for Next Week

Next week, the Senate will hold a nonvoting session on Monday and the House will hold nonvoting sessions on Monday and Tuesday. House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said a technical CARES Act bill will be introduced in the Senate next week and should be on the House floor on either Wednesday or Thursday. The bill is expected to address the following:

  1. Extensions of provisions from previous COVID-19 legislation that expired on December 31, 2020,
  2. A fix to distribute $30 million in rural broadband internet grants, and
  3. A method to distribute the remaining $62 million allocated for the $335 checks that were approved last fall to assist parents with virtual schooling and childcare costs during the COVID-19 pandemic (Section 4.12, HB 1105: Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0/SL 2020-97).

 

The 2021 NCSBA Legislative Agenda was approved by the NCSBA Delegate Assembly on Thursday, January 7. Following the approval of the agenda, the NCSBA Governmental Relations Team has been creating issue briefs on each agenda item. See links for completed issue briefs below. We will provide links to additional issue briefs in next week’s legislative update.

 

On Monday, Speaker Moore released committee assignments for the 2021-2022 legislative biennium. Education-related appointments are listed below, including the House Appropriations Committee chairs because of their prominent role in overseeing the budget process and deciding how much the State will spend on salary and benefits, capital, IT, and subcommittee budgets like education.

Appropriations, Education Committee

  • Jon Hardister (chair), R-Guilford
  • Pat Hurley (chair), R-Randolph
  • John Torbett (chair), R-Gaston
  • Jeffrey Elmore (vice chair), R-Alexander, Wilkes
  • Jay Adams, R-Catawba
  • Cynthia Ball, D-Wake
  • Cecil Brockman, D-Guilford
  • Mark Brody, R-Anson, Union
  • Susan Fisher, D-Buncombe
  • Terry Garrison, D-Granville, Vance, Warren
  • Rosa Gill, D-Wake
  • Karl Gillespie, R-Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Macon
  • Bobby Hanig, R-Currituck, Dare, Hyde, Pamlico
  • Zack Hawkins, D-Durham
  • Rachel Hunt, D-Mecklenburg
  • Marvin Lucas, D-Cumberland
  • Charles Miller, R-Brunswick, New Hanover
  • Diane Wheatley, R-Cumberland
  • David Willis, R-Union

K-12 Education Committee

  • Hugh Blackwell (chair), R-Burke
  • John Torbett (chair), R-Gaston
  • Cecil Brockman (vice chair), D-Guilford
  • Susan Fisher (vice chair), D-Buncombe
  • Diane Wheatley (vice chair), R-Cumberland
  • David Willis (vice chair), R-Union
  • Cynthia Ball, D-Wake
  • John Bradford, R-Mecklenburg
  • Ashton Wheeler Clemmons, D-Guilford
  • Jeffrey Elmore, R-Alexander, Wilkes
  • James Gailliard, D-Nash
  • Rosa Gill, D-Wake
  • Charles Graham, D-Robeson
  • Rachel Hunt, D-Mecklenburg
  • Frank Iler, R-Brunswick
  • Jake Johnson, R-Henderson, Polk, Transylvania
  • Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth
  • Marvin Lucas, D-Cumberland
  • Jeffrey McNeely, R-Iredell
  • Graig Meyer, D-Caswell, Orange
  • Charles Miller, R-Brunswick, New Hanover
  • Larry Potts, R-Davidson
  • Dennis Riddell, R-Alamance
  • Phil Shepherd, R-Onslow
  • Kandie Smith, D-Pitt
  • Larry Strickland, R-Harnett, Johnston
  • Donna McDowell White, R-Johnston

Appropriations Committee Chairs

  • Dean Arp (senior chair), R-Union
  • Donny Lambeth (senior chair), R-Forsyth
  • Jason Saine (senior chair), R-Lincoln
  • William Brisson, R-Bladen, Sampson
  • Dana Bumgardner, R-Gaston
  • Jeffrey Elmore, R-Alexander, Wilkes
  • John Faircloth, R-Guilford
  • Kyle Hall, R-Rockingham, Stokes, Surry
  • Larry Strickland, R-Harnett, Johnston

 

The State Board of Education met for a called meeting on Wednesday, January 27. State Superintendent Catherine Truitt and DPI staff presented revisions to the draft K-12 social studies standards. Changes between the previous draft standards and those presented at Wednesday’s meeting included changing “systemic racism”, “gender identity” and “systemic discrimination” to “racism”, “identity”, and “discrimination”, respectively. Superintendent Truitt explained that these modifications are based on previous Board member critique and are an attempt to expand the definitions of the terms. Discussion mirrored concerns that were expressed and praise that was given at the monthly meeting on January 6 and 7, with Board members’ opinions again seeming split along party lines. Supporting documents were also presented, including a glossary defining these three newly modified terms. Click here for the presentation and click here for the draft K-12 social studies standards. For an article summarizing Board member discussion, click here.

Board members will be voting on the K-12 social studies standards, as well as the 2021-2022 legislative and budget priorities, at the February meeting next week.

 

As previously mentioned, a recent report authored by scientists with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explained that rapid spread of COVID-19 is not being reported in school settings. The report analyzed numerous school districts, including 11 North Carolina districts. In their review of the NC school districts, scientists found that of the more than 90,000 students and staff participating in in-person education for nine weeks, only 32 infections were acquired in school (773 were acquired in the community), with no cases of student-to-staff transmission. Click here for the report published in the Journal for the American Medical Association.

 

NCSBA has been maintaining a chart containing each LEA’s reopening plan for the 2020-2021 school year. We know that many school districts’ plans are constantly changing, so please let us know if our chart does not reflect your district’s most updated reopening plan information. Click here to access the chart.

 

 

 

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.org
(919) 747-6692

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
rbostic@ncsba.org
(919) 747-6677

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
rhoward@ncsba.org
(919) 747-6688

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – January 29, 2021
read more
NCSBA Legislative Agenda – January 15, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Agenda – January 15, 2021

2021 Legislative Session Opening Day

Wednesday, January 13 marked the beginning of the 2021 legislative “long” session. NC representatives and senators gathered in their respective chambers for noon session, during which ceremonial proceedings took place and chamber rules were filed. This legislative biennium’s opening day looked much different from those in previous years, with nearly all lawmakers wearing masks and families being restricted to the gallery above each chamber.

Following the November 2020 elections, the NC House Republican majority increased from 65 Republicans and 55 Democrats to 69 Republicans and 51 Democrats. The NC Senate went from 29 Republicans and 21 Democrats to 28 Republicans and 22 Democrats. Although Republicans maintain their majority in the state legislature for this biennium, the party still does not hold a veto proof majority over reelected Democratic Governor Roy Cooper. With all legislators present, it would take 72 House votes and 30 Senate votes for a successful veto override.

Both Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, and House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, were unanimously reelected to their leadership positions. In a statement condemning last week’s violent attacks on the US Capitol, Senator Berger emphasized the importance of legislators assuming good faith on all sides in the midst of disagreement. House leadership also called for unity, with Speaker Moore calling Wednesday a day to “mark a new beginning for North Carolina.”

Speaker Moore indicated some of his legislative priorities, including COVID-19 relief and getting students back on track in school. Other reported priorities include economic development and broadband internet. Additionally, legislators will focus on the distribution of the federal government’s most recent $900 billion COVID-19 relief package, of which NC is estimated to receive $1.6 billion for K-12 public education. Both chambers have adjourned until January 27.

 

Local Bill Filing Rules

During Wednesday’s legislative session, both chambers adopted their rules of operation: House Resolution 1 and Senate Resolution 1. Two rules that school districts should take note of are Rule 31.1 in the House and Rule 40.2 in the Senate, both of which set deadlines for local bills. If a local bill is needed this legislative session, the proposed bill must be submitted to legislative staff for drafting by:

  • February 25 in the Senate
  • March 3 in the House

A legislator must file a local bill by:

  • March 11 in the Senate
  • March 25 in the House

Contact your legislative delegation soon if a local bill is needed.

 

School Construction Bond

According to a report from WRAL News on January 14, Governor Cooper plans to recommend to the General Assembly a statewide bond for school construction and other state infrastructure needs. Governor Cooper also pledged to borrow $250 million for broadband access. The Governor made these announcements during a meeting with the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners. “You’re never going to find better interest rates,” Governor Cooper told commissioners. “This is the time.”

According to WRAL News, the initial Senate response to the Governor’s bond proposal was promising. “If the state’s revenues take a big hit, then a bond may make sense for one-time expenditures like infrastructure projects,” Pat Ryan, spokesman for Senate leader Berger, said in an email Thursday. “The Senate will consider the options once our revenue picture becomes clearer.” Speaker Moore and the House were supportive of a school construction bond in the 2019-2020 biennium, but the Senate favored a pay-as-you-go approach. Neither option moved forward due to the budget stalemate last session.

 

House Committee Chair Appointments

On Wednesday, Speaker Moore announced House committee chair appointments. Education-related appointments are listed below. We also listed the House Appropriations Committee chairs because they oversee the overall budget process. These chairs decide how much the State will spend on salary and benefits, capital, IT, and subcommittee budgets like education. We will provide full committee appointments when they are released.

Education Appropriations Committee Chairs

  • Jon Hardister, R-Guilford
  • John Torbett, R-Gaston
  • Pat Hurley, R-Randolph

Education, K-12 Committee Chairs

  • Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke
  • John Torbett, R-Gaston

Education, Community Colleges Committee Chair

  • Pat Hurley, R-Randolph

Education, Universities Committee Chair

  • Jon Hardister, R-Guilford

Appropriations Committee Chairs

  • Donny Lambeth (senior chair), R-Forsyth
  • Jason Saine (senior chair), R-Lincoln
  • Dean Arp (senior chair), R-Union
  • William Brisson, R-Bladen, Sampson
  • Dana Bumgardner, R-Gaston
  • Jeff Elmore, R-Alexander, Wilkes
  • John Faircloth, R-Guilford
  • Kyle Hall, R-Rockingham, Stokes, Surry
  • Larry Strickland, R-Harnett, Johnston

 

Senate Committee Appointments

Last week we shared Senate leader Berger’s intended committee appointments for the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee and the Senate Appropriations on Education Committee for the 2021-2022 legislative biennium. (See appointments for those two committees below.)

Additionally, Senator Berger released his intended committee appointments for the Senate Appropriations/Base Budget Committee. The chairs of this committee are listed below because of their prominent role in the overall budget process. These chairs decide how much the State will spend on salary and benefits, capital, IT, and subcommittee budgets like education. Senate Appropriations/Base Budget Committee Chairs:

  • Brent Jackson, R-Duplin, Johnston, Sampson
  • Kathy Harrington, R-Gaston
  • Ralph Hise, R-Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Yancey

Senate Education/Higher Education Committee:

  • Deanna Ballard (chair), R-Alleghany, Ashe, Surry, Watauga, Wilkes
  • Michael Lee (chair), R-New Hanover
  • Lisa Stone Barnes, R-Johnston, Nash
  • Kevin Corbin, R-Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Swain
  • David Craven, R-Guilford, Randolph
  • Amy Scott Galey, R-Alamance, Guilford
  • Michael Lazarra, R-Jones, Onslow
  • Tom McInnis, R-Anson, Moore, Richmond, Scotland
  • Dean Proctor, R-Alexander, Catawba
  • Norman Sanderson, R-Carteret, Craven, Pamlico
  • Vickie Sawyer, R-Iredell, Yadkin
  • Jay Chaudhuri, D-Wake
  • Don Davis, D-Greene, Pitt
  • Valerie Foushee, D-Chatham, Orange
  • Gladys Robinson, D-Guilford
  • Joyce Waddell, D-Mecklenburg

Senate Appropriations on Education Committee:

  • Deanna Ballard (chair), R-Alleghany, Ashe, Surry, Watauga, Wilkes
  • Michael Lee (chair), R-New Hanover
  • Ted Alexander, R-Cleveland, Gaston, Lincoln
  • Kevin Corbin, R-Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Swain
  • David Craven, R-Guilford, Randolph
  • Norman Sanderson, R-Carteret, Craven, Pamlico
  • Jay Chaudhuri, D-Wake
  • Don Davis, D-Greene, Pitt
  • Valerie Foushee, D-Chatham, Orange

 

Reopening of Public Schools

NCSBA has been maintaining a chart containing each LEA’s reopening plan for the 2020-2021 school year. We know that many school districts’ plans are constantly changing, so please let us know if our chart does not reflect your district’s most updated reopening plan information. Click here to access the chart.

 

 

 

 

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6692

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6677

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6688

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Agenda – January 15, 2021
read more
NCSBA Legislative Update – January 8, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – January 8, 2021

2021 Legislative Session

Now that 2020 is finally behind us, 170 North Carolina State legislators rang in 2021 with a new term in office. The upcoming legislative “long” session kicks off in less than a week, with lawmakers convening on Wednesday, January 13 for an organizational session to elect officers and adopt chamber rules. The first day is normally a festive affair with members’ families invited to the chamber floor, but this year the party is expected to be limited by COVID-19. When both chambers adjourn their first day of session, they will not return until January 27. This short interim is used by staff to set up member offices. Until member offices are finalized in the next few weeks, it may be hard to get a phone number and office number for some freshmen legislators.

We are hearing that a top priority for the General Assembly is addressing a statewide COVID-19 appropriations bill. This follows the federal government’s roughly $900 billion COVID-19 relief package that became law last month. $54 billion of that is directed to K-12 public schools. According to the Southern Regional Education Board, North Carolina is projected to receive around $1.6 billion for K-12 public education. Stay tuned for more…

 

2021 NCSBA Legislative Agenda

The NCSBA Delegate Assembly approved the 2021 NCSBA Legislative Agenda at its meeting on Thursday, January 7. Click here to access the Agenda. Issue briefs on each Agenda item will be posted over the next few weeks. The Agenda focuses on the following nine topics:

  1. COVID-19
  2. Pandemic Learning Loss
  3. Accountability
    • School Grades
    • Testing
    • Designation
    • Low-Performing Schools
  4. School Construction/Capital
  5. School Safety
  6. Recruiting and Retaining Top Talent
  7. Early Learning
  8. Administrator Ethics Training
  9. Local Charter School Funding/Relations

 

Senate Committee Appointments

Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, released his intended committee appointments for the 2021-2022 legislative biennium on Thursday, January 7. Senator Berger plans to appoint the following Senators to the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee:

  • Deanna Ballard (chair), R-Alleghany, Ashe, Surry, Watauga, Wilkes
  • Michael Lee (chair), R-New Hanover
  • Lisa Stone Barnes, R-Johnston, Nash
  • Kevin Corbin, R-Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Swain
  • David Craven, R-Guilford, Randolph
  • Amy Scott Galey, R-Alamance, Guilford
  • Michael Lazarra, R-Jones, Onslow
  • Tom McInnis, R-Anson, Moore, Richmond, Scotland
  • Dean Proctor, R-Alexander, Catawba
  • Norman Sanderson, R-Carteret, Craven, Pamlico
  • Vickie Sawyer, R-Iredell, Yadkin
  • Jay Chaudhuri, D-Wake
  • Don Davis, D-Greene, Pitt
  • Valerie Foushee, D-Chatham, Orange
  • Gladys Robinson, D-Guilford
  • Joyce Waddell, D-Mecklenburg

Senator Berger plans to appoint the following Senators to the Senate Appropriations on Education Committee:

  • Deanna Ballard (chair), R-Alleghany, Ashe, Surry, Watauga, Wilkes
  • Michael Lee (chair), R-New Hanover
  • Ted Alexander, R-Cleveland, Gaston, Lincoln
  • Kevin Corbin, R-Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Swain
  • David Craven, R-Guilford, Randolph
  • Norman Sanderson, R-Carteret, Craven, Pamlico
  • Jay Chaudhuri, D-Wake
  • Don Davis, D-Greene, Pitt
  • Valerie Foushee, D-Chatham, Orange

 

State Board of Education

January Monthly Meeting

The SBE met for its monthly meeting on January 6 and 7. Board members were presented with the following:

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Waiver: Board members voted to approve a federal waiver request for the minimum 95% testing participation requirement and for state testing accountability requirements for the 2020-2021 school year. Students would still have to take tests in person, and participation would be encouraged but not in a punitive manner. The waiver request will be submitted to the US Department of Education (USED) by February 1, and the USED will then have 120 days to respond to the waiver.

Healthy Active Children Policy Amendment: The SBE approved an amendment to the SBE’s Healthy Active Children Policy. The added section explains that the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) is a national school-based survey that is vital to improving student health, eliminating education opportunity gaps, and promoting equal access to education. The policy amendment states that “Each LEA should cooperate with the Department of Public Instruction to collect YRBS data in odd-numbered years.” This data will be reported to DPI as part of the School-Based Mental Health Policy plan reporting process, followed by regional-level data being provided to each LEA and that data being used to create goals and action plans. Implementation for the YRBS will begin in August 2021.

NC DHHS COVID-19 Update: Despite the current statewide rise in COVID-19 cases, K-12 schools have maintained relatively low case and cluster numbers. As of November 30, 2020, there are 309 cases associated with the 31 currently active K-12 clusters, of which only 83 cases and 13 clusters are among traditional public schools. Board members were educated on the COVID-19 vaccines and the order in which they will be distributed. Based on the COVID-19 vaccine distribution graphic below, teachers and support staff members fall under Phase 1b (in blue), Groups 2 and 3. K-12 students 16 and over will have the opportunity to be vaccinated in Phase 3 (in orange). There are currently clinical trials in the US that allow enrollment of children down to age 12, and children down to age 5 are approved to enroll in a trial in the UK. These clinical trials will determine vaccine availability for most school age children.

K-12 Social Studies Content Standards: The SBE last discussed K-12 social studies content standards in their July 2020 monthly meeting. During that meeting, the Board voted to delay the adoption of new K-12 social studies standards by one year, per request of teachers. This request for delay was due partly to the COVID-19 pandemic but also due to a call for more diverse history content standards. The newly created standards were up for discussion in this month’s meeting, with many Board members weighing in. While there were concerns about divisive language, there was also praise for inclusion of various historic experiences. Board members’ opinions seemed split along party lines. Additionally, requests for more objectives and examples of how certain standards will be applied to curriculum were presented by the Board to DPI. Click here for an article summarizing Board discussion.

The SBE will vote on the K-12 social studies content standards in their February meeting, allowing newly elected Superintendent Catherine Truitt to review the standards and provide feedback. Click here to access the content standards.

Click here to access an article summarizing the meeting.

Click here to access all meeting materials.

SBE Executive Committee Meeting

On Tuesday, January 5 the Executive Committee of the SBE unanimously approved three additional inaugural cohort districts for the NC Education Corps (NCEC): Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Schools, Granville County Schools, and Weldon City Schools. The total amount of NCEC inaugural cohort districts is now 21.

The NCEC was launched with the collaboration of the SBE, the Office of the Governor, and former State Superintendent Mike Ward. NCEC’s mission is to help address the immediate challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and its members will primarily serve as tutors and mentors addressing student achievement/engagement and learning loss.

Click here to access all meeting materials.

 

House Select Committee on Community Relations, Law Enforcement and Justice

The House Select Committee on Community Relations, Law Enforcement and Justice met on December 14 to approve the final Committee report. Only Recommendation 12 dealt with K-12 public schools as follows:

Recommendation 12: Fund a Pilot Program for Student Law Enforcement Career Exploration

The Committee recommends that the General Assembly enact legislation creating and funding a pilot program for high school students to explore law enforcement careers, in at least one location. The Committee recommends the General Assembly allow the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association to develop and administer the pilot program in consultation with the Department of Public Instruction.

The report contains recommendations that individual legislators can introduce as bills, since select committees do not have the power to introduce bills. Chairman, Representative Szoka, R-Cumberland, does not plan to file an omnibus bill containing all report recommendations, but will instead have his office coordinate the filing of multiple bills by House members.

 

Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee

On December 14, the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee adopted a draft bill that requires the Teaching Fellows Commission to select at least one minority-serving institution to participate in the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program by October 1, 2021. This bill will be introduced in the 2021 Session.

The Committee stripped from the bill a section recommended at a previous meeting that would have required the State Board of Education to develop a plan for an alternative to licensure exams for teacher candidates to demonstrate competency. Representative Howard, R-Davie, offered this amendment to give Superintendent-Elect Truitt time to address licensure deficiencies when she takes office.

 

DRIVE Task Force Report

In December 2019, Governor Cooper established the DRIVE (Developing a Representative & Inclusive Vision for Education) Task Force, with the goal of identifying ways to improve equity and inclusion in the teaching profession. Statistics show that over half of NC’s 1.5 million public-school students are non-white, yet 78% of teachers are white and majority female. Supporters of DRIVE say that more representation and inclusion in the teacher workforce will aid in delivering a quality education to every student.

Over the past year, the Task Force has developed a report that analyzes strategies and sources for increasing teacher diversity, including:

  • Exposing racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse middle and high school students to the teaching profession through applied school-based learning and extracurriculars
  • Launching a statewide marketing campaign highlighting accounts of successful teachers of color, elevating the teaching profession, and introducing programs to increase educator diversity
  • Revising the NC Teaching Fellows Program to incorporate the selection of diverse candidates and include HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) and other HMSIs (historically minority serving institutions) in the Program

Click here to access the report that was presented to Governor Cooper on January 1, 2021. Click here to access an article that explains the work of the DRIVE Task Force.

 

Reopening of Public Schools

NCSBA has been maintaining a chart containing each LEA’s reopening plan for the 2020-2021 school year. We know that our local school boards have been working tirelessly to implement their A, B, and C plans. Many school districts have fluid plans that change as the health of their community fluctuates. If our chart does not include your district’s most updated reopening plan information, please let us know. Click here to access the chart.

 

2020 Statewide Facility Needs Survey
THE DEADLINE TO SUBMIT THE COMPLETED SURVEY IS TODAY, JANUARY 8, 2021. Every five years school districts are required to submit their Facility Needs Survey (FNS). The survey and guidance are available on the DPI School Planning website.  Questions about the 2020 FNS should be directed to Nathan Maune, AIA (School Planning Section Chief), via email: nathan.maune@dpi.nc.gov.

 

 

 

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6692

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6677

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6688

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – January 8, 2021
read more
NCSBA Legislative Update – December 4, 2020

NCSBA Legislative Update – December 4, 2020

State Board of Education

December Monthly Meeting

The SBE met for its monthly meeting on December 2 and 3. Board members were presented with the following:

DHHS COVID-19 Response Update: A majority of the DHHS presentation consisted of plans for the antigen testing pilot for K-12 students and staff. The State is planning to receive approximately 3.1 million antigen tests from the federal government by the end of 2020. The antigen tests are used for more rapid diagnosis of active infections, and the goal of the pilot is to “allow more ready districts to provide important lessons-learned that can inform future plans.” K-12 schools are among the priority populations for use of the tests, and “interested public schools or districts must submit an application to their local health department expressing their capacity to participate in the pilot.” To apply for the K-12 COVID-19 antigen testing pilot, click here. If applicants have questions about the pilot, contact StrongSchoolsNC@dhhs.nc.gov with the subject line “COVID Testing Pilot Question”.

Additionally, DHHS staff reported a total of 31 currently active K-12 COVID-19 clusters, of which 13 are in traditional public schools. The StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit will soon be updated according to the most recent executive order that requires masks for children ages five and up and eliminates the exception for strenuous exercise. DHHS is also creating a new resource: Guidance for Specials and Extracurriculars (e.g., music/band, choir, recess). DHHS staff stated that these resources will be released on Friday, December 4. Click here to access DHHS K-12 COVID-19 Resources.

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Update: Board members heard a presentation from DPI staff concerning fall end-of-course (EOC) and career and technical education (CTE) testing that led to much discussion and confusion concerning:

  1. The federal requirement to have at least 95% student participation on EOC and CTE exams
  2. The requirement to administer these exams in person
  3. The State requirement that EOC and CTE exam scores count as 20% of a student’s final grade

The SBE’s attorney confirmed that the 20% rule is still in effect, and while a proposed change can be made, the process is complicated. Chairman Eric Davis stated that the Board should prioritize seeking a federal waiver for the 95% testing participation requirement, and Vice Chair Alan Duncan added that while it might not be ideal, students can wait as late as June 2021 to take fall semester EOC and CTE exams in person. This agenda item was for discussion only and will return before the Board in January. Click here for an article highlighting education leaders’ concerns about these testing requirements.

2020-2021 Legislative and Budget Priorities: The SBE revisited the legislative and budget priorities to discuss and reach a consensus on what is most important for this upcoming year. Following Board member input and discussion, Vice Chair Duncan summarized the top areas supported my Board members:

  1. Enhancing the teacher pipeline, as well as the principal pipeline
  2. Support for student social and emotional health
  3. Remediation efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., science of reading, school turnaround, exceptional children, mental health)
  4. Connecting students with post-secondary opportunities

DPI staff will take this input from Board members and place it into funding buckets that are tied to the SBE’s strategic plan. The process will continue at the January meeting.

2019-2020 State of the Teaching Profession Report: The following are key takeaways from the Report that will be submitted to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee by December 15, 2020:

  • The 2019-2020 teacher attrition rate has decreased since 2017-2018 from 8.1% to 7.5% but remained the same as it was in 2018-2019
  • The teacher vacancy rate decreased from 2.8% on the first day of the school year to 1.7% on the 40th day – a 65% reduction
  • The highest vacancy rates are in core subjects in elementary grades (e.g., reading, math, science, social studies) – this is also the largest group of teachers in the State

The SBE also heard from Superintendent-Elect Catherine Truitt regarding her first wave of new hires for DPI. To read more about the Board’s welcome of Superintendent-Elect Truitt and her staff announcements, click here.

Click here to access all meeting materials.

 

SBE Executive Committee Meeting

On Thursday, November 12 the Executive Committee of the SBE met to approve two additional inaugural cohort districts for the NC Education Corps: Wake County Public School System and Durham Public Schools. The Executive Committee had previously approved 17 inaugural cohort districts for the NCEC on November 2.

The NCEC was launched with the collaboration of the SBE, the Office of the Governor, and former State Superintendent Mike Ward. NCEC’s mission is to help address the immediate challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and its members will primarily serve as tutors and mentors addressing student achievement/engagement and learning loss. While Wake and Durham are not categorized as Tier 1 or 2 like the previously approved 17 districts, the focus of NCEC in these two districts will be on schools with significant proportions of low-income students. It was also stated that Wake and Durham will benefit the NCEC by providing recruits who can serve in nearby districts.

Click here to access all meeting materials.

 

State Audit of DPI COVID-19 Funds

On Wednesday, December 2, the Office of the State Auditor released an audit of Coronavirus Relief Funds that were allocated to DPI from the 2020 COVID-19 Recovery Act. The audit found the following:

  1. $31 million of coronavirus relief funds were distributed for summer learning program without a method to ensure student ability was improved.
  2. $37 million of coronavirus relief funds were distributed for nutrition services without establishing a method to measure results.
  3. DPI distributed approximately $76 million but did not monitor spending.

Click here for the audit report.

DPI responded to each finding of the audit:

  1. DPI agreed with the first finding, stating that the measurement tool for student ability was terminated by the SBE. “Any effort to measure the impact now simply cannot be made based on quantifiable, verifiable information.”
  2. DPI disagreed with the second finding, stating that “These funds were meant to ensure children usually fed at school, and even those who weren’t, would not go hungry…Additional requirements that some would demand would have likely risked that already vulnerable children across NC would have gone hungry.”
  3. DPI disagreed with the third finding, stating that “Much of the coronavirus relief funds in question are funding programs that run through the end of December. When these programs are complete, as per NC statutory language, DPI will compile a report for the General Assembly to review.”

Click here for DPI’s response to the audit.

Click here for an article on the audit and DPI response.

 

Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee

The Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee (JLEOC) held its final meeting of 2020 on Tuesday, December 1 to approve their report to the 2021 General Assembly and to receive answers from DPI to previously asked Committee questions.

The JLEOC Committee Report includes the following two draft bills:

  1. Student Digital Learning Access – Requires the SBE to “establish and maintain an electronic dashboard to publicly display information related to digital learning.” The dashboard will include information on digital devices available to students inside and outside of school and out-of-school connectivity. Public school units will need to annually supply this information to the SBE by November 15. The bill further requires DPI and the Department of Information Technology to “conduct a statewide assessment of data related to out-of-school internet and device access for North Carolina elementary and secondary students obtained during the physical school closure and at-home learning that occurred due to COVID-19 during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years.”
  2. Report on K-12 Computer Science Data – Requires the SBE to annually report by September 15 on participation in computer science courses. The report will include the number of computer science teachers, the computer science courses offered, the number of students enrolled in each course, the number of computer science students by grade level, and social/economic details of computer science students.

Dr. David Stegall, DPI Deputy Superintendent of Innovation, and Freebird McKinney, SBE Director of Legislative and Community Affairs, responded to the Committee’s questions about remote teaching and learning (presentation and written response). Throughout the presentation references were made to the NCSBA spreadsheet that tracks what plan each school district is operating under (see the Reopening of Public Schools section below). The following are key statistics from their presentation:

  • On average, 36% of students are learning all virtual. (This includes students in Plan C and those that chose to attend virtual academies in Plans A & B districts.)
  • Less than 1% of students are unaccounted for in NC’s public schools.
  • On average, 53% of students who typically qualify for free and reduced lunch regularly receive meals.
  • As of October 31, 2020, 47% of federal COVID-19 funds had been expended by school districts.
  • Month 2 Average Daily Membership declined 3.36% from 2019-2020 to 2020-2021, while Month 2 Average Daily Attendance declined .39% for the same period.

Click here and here for articles summarizing the meeting and Committee discussion.

 

House Select Committee on Community Relations, Law Enforcement and Justice

On Wednesday, November 18 the House Select Committee discussed a draft of their report. Public comment on the report was due by December 2, a revised draft will be sent to members by December 7, and the next meeting is December 14. Below are sections of the report relevant to public schools.

Recommendation 12: Fund a Pilot Program for Student Law Enforcement Career Exploration

The Committee recommends that the General Assembly enact legislation creating and funding a pilot program for high school students to explore law enforcement careers, in at least one location. The Committee recommends that the General Assembly allow the NC Sheriffs’ Association to develop and administer the pilot program in consultation with DPI.

Recommendation 14: Continue to Consider Strategies to Improve Relations Between Law Enforcement and the Community

The Committee recommends that the General Assembly continue to study and consider additional strategies to improve relations between law enforcement and the communities they serve. The Committee recommends that the General Assembly further explore the following suggested strategies, which were received by the Committee but were unable to be fully examined due to time constraints:

  • Requiring that officers educate drivers’ education classes on traffic stops
  • Eliminating the use of law enforcement for intervention in truancy
  • Requiring the compilation and report of referrals from schools and school resource officers to juvenile justice
  • Eliminating school resource officers

 

Reopening of Public Schools

NCSBA has been maintaining a chart containing each LEA’s reopening plan for the 2020-2021 school year. Click here to access the chart.

 

2020 Statewide Facility Needs Survey
Every five years school districts are required to submit their Facility Needs Survey (FNS). The survey and guidance are available on the DPI School Planning websiteThe deadline to submit the completed survey is January 8, 2021. Questions about the 2020 FNS should be directed to Nathan Maune, AIA (School Planning Section Chief), via email: nathan.maune@dpi.nc.gov.

 

 

 

Leanne E. Winner
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6686

Bruce Mildwurf
Associate Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6692

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6677

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6688

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – December 4, 2020
read more
NCSBA Legislative Update – November 9, 2020

NCSBA Legislative Update – November 9, 2020

Election Results

On November 3, North Carolinians voted to maintain the Republican majority in the state legislature for the next two years.

The NC Senate went from 29 Republicans and 21 Democrats to 28 Republicans and 22 Democrats. Click here for NC Senate election results.

  • Two Democrats won open Republican seats in Democrat-leaning districts (Wake and Mecklenburg).
  • One Republican flipped a Democrat seat in a toss-up district (former NC Senate Education Chair Michael Lee, New Hanover).

In the NC House, the Republican majority increased by four seats from 65 Republicans and 55 Democrats to 69 Republicans and 51 Democrats. Click here for NC House election results.

  • Four Democrats lost seats that they flipped in 2018 (Wake, Watauga, Mecklenburg, and a multi-county district in western NC). It should be noted that three of the losses were in Republican-leaning districts.
  • Another one term Democrat incumbent lost in a Republican-leaning district that had previously been held by a Democrat for five terms (Montgomery, Richmond, and Stanly).
  • Two Republican incumbents lost in Democratic-leaning districts (Pitt and Alamance).
  • Another Republican won an open Democrat seat that was rated as leaning Democrat (Cumberland).

We encourage you to congratulate your delegation for winning their seat in the legislature. The General Assembly will soon reconvene on January 13, 2021 for the legislative long session.

Catherine Truitt (R) defeated Jen Mangrum (D) in the race for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Truitt is a former schoolteacher and currently serves as the chancellor of Western Governors University North Carolina. Truitt previously served as the Senior Advisor on Education to former Governor Pat McCrory. She is a proponent of local control, early grade literacy, and school choice.

Click here for NC Council of State election results. For more on each race, click here.

  • Governor Cooper (D)
  • Lieutenant Governor Robinson (R)
  • Attorney General Stein (D)
  • Auditor Wood (D)
  • Agriculture Commissioner Troxler (R)
  • Insurance Commissioner Causey (R)
  • Labor Commissioner Dobson (R)
  • Secretary of State Marshall (D)
  • Superintendent of Public Instruction Truitt (R)
  • Treasurer Folwell (R)

Click here for NC judicial election results.

Click here for NC federal election results.

There were several local referenda decided on election day.

  • School bond issues in Camden, Carteret, and Guilford counties were approved by 72-73% of the voters.
  • Unfortunately, local ¼ cent sales tax votes failed in Alleghany, Carteret, Chowan, Guilford, and Yadkin counties. County commissioners in these areas had pledged part or all the sales tax proceeds to school capital.

 

State Board of Education

November Monthly Meeting

The SBE met for its monthly meeting on November 4-5. Board members were presented with the following:

FY 2020-2021 Legislative and Budget Priorities: DPI staff presented the Department’s legislative and budget priorities for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, which totals $417.5 million. Legislative and budget priorities include:

  • Early grade reading, which includes a statewide training on the “Science of Reading” and a “Home Reading Support Program” ($7.6 million)
  • Teacher and principal preparation, professional development, and compensation ($143 million for teachers and $27.6 million for principals)
  • Supporting the whole child/social, emotional, and mental health ($153.5 million)
  • Connecting high school to postsecondary and career opportunities ($9.4 million)

For the full list of legislative and budget requests, click here.

The presentation also included a review of last year’s budget, the current year’s budget, and the budget preparation process for the coming fiscal years. Most Board member discussion centered around DPI’s statement that NC ranks second in the Southeast for average teacher compensation. Requests for additional DPI data include (1) how many NC teachers earn the average salary, (2) comparison of average teacher salary compensation with a cost-of-living index for each state, and (3) disaggregation of teacher salary ranking based solely on state allocations versus including local allocations. These legislative and budget priorities will be before the SBE for additional discussion at the December meeting.

Updated DHHS COVID-19 Guidance: DHHS staff updated Board members on NC’s COVID-19 case count and metrics. As of November 3, there are 297 cases associated with the 34 currently active K-12 clusters. In total, there have been 390 cluster-associated cases among all active and complete K-12 clusters, and there have been zero deaths linked to these clusters. Additionally, DHHS noted that in NC, the US, and internationally, schools are not seen as a big source of spread of COVID-19. Click here for a list of updated DHHS K-12 COVID-19 resources (including links to the resources), as well as a list of all updates that have been made since last month’s SBE meeting.

Center for Safer Schools Update: SBE members received updates on student mental health data, the “Say Something” school safety app, and the state action plan for school safety. The data shows a 19% increase in student suicide ideation and self-harm from the 2018-2019 school year to the 2019-2020 school year, which the “Say Something” app aims to address. Board discussion primarily concerned the state action plan for school safety and the importance of student input on the role of School Resource Officers (SROs). Board member James Ford expressed his concern about students who want SROs removed from schools and the importance of their voice in the conversation. Presenters stated that the updated SRO initiatives concern training and supporting SROs to integrate them into the school community. Under these initiatives, SROs would be thoroughly educated about the school-to-prison pipeline, mental health and trauma, and de-escalation tactics and bias training. This Center for Safer Schools and strategic plan update was a discussion item and was not voted for approval at this meeting. Click here to access the draft state action plan for school safety.

School-Based Mental Health Policy: The SBE approved the updated school-based mental health policy. The following are the two primary updates:

  • Replacing “i.e.” with “e.g.” to clarify that examples of how to apply the policy are not requirements
  • Adding a description of school personnel who work with students to include “teachers, instructional support personnel, principals, and assistant principals; this term may also include, in the discretion of the PSU, other school employees who work directly with students”

Next steps for implementing the school-based mental health policy include addressing shortages, professional learning and technical assistance, reporting, and project evaluation.

Click here to access all meeting materials. For an article summarizing the meeting, click here.

 

SBE Executive Committee Meeting

On Monday, November 2 the Executive Committee of the SBE met to approve 17 inaugural cohort districts for the NC Education Corps (NCEC). The NCEC was launched with the collaboration of the SBE, the Office of the Governor, and former State Superintendent Mike Ward. NCEC’s mission is to help address the immediate challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to read more about the NCEC and the application process. The goal is to hire just over 100 NCEC members by January 2021 who will serve as tutors and mentors addressing student achievement/engagement and learning loss. Of the 17 districts chosen, eight are Tier I and nine are Tier 2.

Click here to access all meeting materials. The SBE Executive Committee is scheduled to meet again on Thursday, November 12 to approve two additional inaugural cohort districts for the NCEC.

 

School Nutrition Waivers Extended

On October 9, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) formally extended school nutrition waivers to allow schools to continue providing students with free meals through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) through June 30, 2021. This waiver extension is the result of a stopgap government funding bill that was passed by Congress in September. The bill encouraged the USDA to extend these waiver flexibilities past the end of 2020. Click here for the announcement from the USDA.

 

Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee

This afternoon the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee reviewed a report entitled “Lack of a Dedicated State-level Effort Challenges North Carolina’s Capacity to Increase Teacher Diversity”. Authors of the report in the General Assembly’s Program Evaluation Division found no state-level effort to promote the recruitment and retention of teachers of color but did acknowledge that LEAs, charter schools, and educator preparation programs (EPPs) have developed and implemented initiatives to promote diversity in their teacher workforce. Superintendent Mark Johnson disagreed with the report findings, stating that the report “did not adequately capture the current efforts made in North Carolina”, such as TEACH NC (collaboration between DPI, BEST NC, and TEACH.ORG) and the Governor’s DRIVE Task Force (Developing a Representative & Inclusive Vision for Education).

The report recommends the following:

  1. The General Assembly should mandate the addition of at least one historically black college/university (HBCU) or minority-serving institution to the NC Teaching Fellows Program.
  2. The General Assembly should require the State Board of Education to develop a plan for an alternative to licensure exams for teacher candidates to demonstrate competency.

These recommendations have been included in a bill draft that the Committee will consider at their next meeting on December 14.

 

Reopening of Public Schools

NCSBA has been maintaining a chart containing each LEA’s reopening plan for the 2020-2021 school year. Click here to access the chart.

 

2020 Statewide Facility Needs Survey
Every five years school districts are required to submit their Facility Needs Survey (FNS). The survey and guidance are available on the DPI School Planning websiteThe deadline to submit the completed survey is January 8, 2021. Questions about the 2020 FNS should be directed to Nathan Maune, AIA (School Planning Section Chief), via email: nathan.maune@dpi.nc.gov.

 

 

 

Leanne E. Winner
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6686

Bruce Mildwurf
Associate Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6692

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6677

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6688

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – November 9, 2020
read more
NCSBA Legislative Update – October 9, 2020

NCSBA Legislative Update – October 9, 2020

NCSBA 2021-2022 Legislative Survey

The NCSBA Legislative Committee met two weeks ago to develop a survey on legislative matters. The survey was emailed from Bruce Mildwurf to each school board member on Wednesday, October 7 shortly before 1:00 pm. If you are a school board member who did not receive the survey (please check your junk folder), contact Rebekah Howard at rhoward@ncsba.org and she will send you the survey link. Your responses to the survey will largely determine which issues are among the top legislative priorities on the 2021-2022 NCSBA Legislative Agenda. The deadline to complete the survey is 5:00 pm on Friday, October 30.

 

State Board of Education

October Monthly Meeting and Fall Planning and Work Session

The SBE met for its fall planning and work session and monthly meeting on October 6-8. Board members were presented with the following:

School-based mental health policy: Board members were presented with 2019 results of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). The results showed increasing rates of mental health challenges and self-harm among NC’s high school students. Board members were also presented with a new school-based mental health policy that would require:

  • Universal promotion of mental, social, and emotional wellness though core instruction and curriculum
  • Early intervention for mental, social, and emotional needs
  • Risk assessment, referral, treatment, and re-entry

This mental health policy follows guidelines that were passed earlier this year in SB 476: School-Based Mental Health (S.L. 2020-7). This law requires the SBE to adopt a school-based mental health policy no later than December 1, 2020, which must include a model mental health training program and a model suicide risk referral protocol for schools. DPI staff presented draft policy features for the Board’s discussion. For more on this part of the meeting, click here.

Updated DHHS COVID-19 guidance: Following Governor Cooper’s announcement on September 17 that the state’s school districts and charter schools can implement Plan A for elementary schools starting on October 5, DHHS updated its COVID-19 guidance for elementary schools. Click here to see key changes made to the DHHS guidance. The following are new DHHS COVID-19 resources:

When Board members were asked to vote in approval of the updated DHHS guidance, Lieutenant Governor Forest proposed a substitute motion to allow all grades in all school districts and charter schools to return to school under Plan A. The Board’s attorney explained that the motion’s purpose is to endorse the DHHS guidance and expressed his belief that the authority to open schools is held by the Governor. Ultimately, after several minutes of confusion and discussion, Lieutenant Governor Forest withdrew his motion, and the Board approved the updated DHHS guidance. For more on this discussion and other SBE agenda items, click here.

Overview of COVID-19 funds: Most SBE meetings since mid-March have included discussion and/or approval of the use of COVID-19 funding. At this month’s meeting Board members were presented with an overview of all COVID-19 state and federal funds approved and distributed, as of September 28. $837.5 million has been distributed to 330 public school units (PSUs), 26 nonprofits, and DPI in 40 different budget line items. For the presentation, click here. For the spreadsheet, click here.

Reports SBE submitted to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee:

Click here to access all meeting materials.

 

September 28 Called Meeting

The SBE addressed COVID-19 policy amendments and additions and the Elementary and Secondary School (K-12) Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund.

In response to HB 1105: Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0 (S.L. 2020-97), Board members approved the following COVID-19 policy amendments and additions:

Board members were presented with and approved DPI division action plans for the 10% reserve of federal ESSER funds (authorized by the CARES Act). These funds were reserved for state level initiatives (9.5%) and administrative services (0.5%). The following action plans and allotments were approved during the meeting:

  • $75,000 for blended learning support
  • $250,000 for connectivity exploration
  • $4.5 million for district and school transformation regional support
  • $720,000 for federal program monitoring and support and internal audit personnel
  • $2.2 million for charter school funds (PRC 164)
  • $4.5 million for the grant program for childcare during remote instruction (PRC 168)
  • $10 million for instructional support reserve funding for exceptional children (PRC 167)
  • $10.8 million for digital curriculum resources (PRC 165)
  • $200,000 for external evaluation
  • $1 million for instructional support partnership
  • $3.5 million for learning management platform standardization (PRC 166)
  • $322,941 for professional development for K-12 school leaders
  • $325,000 for professional development for K-12 teachers
  • $100,000 for video lessons

Click here to access all meeting materials.

 

Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee

The Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee met on Tuesday, October 6. Two of the three presentations during the meeting related directly to K-12 education:

DPI officials provided a broad overview of the of the Remote Instruction Plans for the 2020-2021 school year. Click here for the presentation of the report, which is statutorily required.

digiLEARN founder, former Governor Bev Perdue, led the other K-12 education presentation. The non-profit organization is focused on digital learning for all ages and creating a system of instructional opportunities for teachers. They are in the process of completing a report that includes a set of recommendations around competency based micro-credentials. Preliminary findings are expected by the end of November. Click here for the presentation. Click here to learn more about the group’s efforts.

 

House Select Committee on Community Relations, Law Enforcement, and Justice

The newly formed House Select Committee on Community Relations, Law Enforcement, and Justice met twice in September. At the September 28 meeting, the Committee reviewed a long list of policy recommendations that had been submitted by the public to the Select Committee. On pages 34-37 of this list are the following policy recommendations for juveniles:

  • Reduce the use of the juvenile justice system for intervention in bullying
  • Eliminate the use of law enforcement for intervention in truancy
  • Eliminate School Resource Officers (SROs)
  • Require reporting of any referrals to juvenile court from schools and SROs
  • Interest students in law enforcement
    • ROTC-like high school program for law enforcement
    • Pre-high school program to learn about law enforcement and feed into ROTC type program
    • College tuition/scholarship program for high school grads to encourage law enforcement training and college degrees for use in law enforcement

The next committee meeting is on October 13 at 10:00 am. An agenda for this meeting has not been posted. Click here to view the meeting. The Governmental Relations team will be monitoring the actions of this committee.

 

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ Controversial Equitable Services Proposal 

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) provided us with an update on the CARES Act Equitable Services controversy. In early September, a U.S. District Court struck down a proposed interim final rule from the United States Department of Education (USED) that was aimed to shift a greater proportion of CARES Act funding to non-public K-12 schools. At the time, USED confirmed that the rule was no longer in effect but appeared to indicate that it might further appeal the district court ruling. Secretary DeVos sent a letter to Chief State School Officers on September 25, saying that she would not appeal this ruling but emphasized the Department’s continued disagreement over the issue. Moving forward, schools will be required to share pandemic relief funding with private school students using the same federal formula used in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which is based on the number of low-income students being served. NSBA applauds this latest development, which aligns with previous advocacy work done on this issue.

 

Reopening of Public Schools

NCSBA has been maintaining a chart containing each LEA’s reopening plan for the 2020-2021 school year. Click here to access the chart.

 

2020 Statewide Facility Needs Survey
Every five years school districts are required to submit their Facility Needs Survey (FNS). The survey and guidance are available on the DPI School Planning websiteThe deadline to submit the completed survey is January 8, 2021. Questions about the 2020 FNS should be directed to Nathan Maune, AIA (School Planning Section Chief), via email: nathan.maune@dpi.nc.gov.

 

 

 

Leanne E. Winner
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6686

Bruce Mildwurf
Associate Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6692

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6677

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6688

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – October 9, 2020
read more
NCSBA Legislative Update – September 4, 2020

NCSBA Legislative Update – September 4, 2020

This Week at the Legislature

In just over 24 hours, State legislators reconvened, passed a roughly $1 billion spending bill, and adjourned until January 2021. HB 1105: Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0 passed the Senate 44-5 on Wednesday and passed the House 104-10 on Thursday. The Governor can either sign the bill into law, veto the bill, or if he takes no action, the bill will automatically become law after 30 days without his signature.

While legislators were hoping to receive more spending flexibility from Congress for the federal CARES Act funds, that flexibility was not granted prior to this week’s session. This prompted State lawmakers to spend the remaining $903 million of CARES Act funds prior to the allocation deadline of December 30, 2020. Click here to read more about legislative debate leading up to the passage of HB 1105, much of which included the bill’s lack of Medicaid expansion.

Click here to access NCSBA’s summary of HB 1105: Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0. The following are highlights of the bill’s K-12 education sections:

  • ADM hold harmless (Section 3.1): For the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the SBE shall determine the allocations for average daily membership (ADM) to applicable public school units by using the higher of the actual or anticipated (allotted) ADM. After funding adjustments are made, the SBE shall not reduce allotments for local school administrative units due to the difference between actual and anticipated (allotted) ADM.
  • Principal pay hold harmless (Section 3.1A): The ADM of a principal’s school is determined by using the school’s ADM from the 2019-2020 school year. If the school did not have an ADM in the 2019-2020 school year, the school’s projected ADM for the 2020-2021 school year must be used.
  • Increase funding for public schools (Section 1.2):
    • $10 million for internet connectivity
    • $20 million for personal protective equipment
    • $17 million for in-person services for exceptional children
  • Opportunity Scholarship changes (Section 3.3): Removes the K-1 grade cap on scholarship grant applications. Increases the household income eligibility level from 133% to 150% of the amount required for the student to qualify for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program.
  • Increase virtual charter enrollment (Section 3.2): Increases NC Cyber Academy by 1,000 students and increases NC Virtual Academy by 2,800 students. This overrides the State Board of Education’s recent denial of a request to increase enrollment. This could impact school districts’ budgets if additional students from your area enroll in one of the virtual charters.

Last week Governor Cooper released his budget request calling for teacher bonuses, higher funding levels, and a school construction bond, none of which were included in HB 1105. Click here to view the budget request.

The General Assembly will reconvene for the 2021 legislative session on Wednesday, January 13. Legislators could possibly return prior to the 2021 session for either a veto override vote or a budget session called by the Governor.

 

Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee

The Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee held a meeting on Tuesday, September 1. Committee members heard the following presentations:

Click here for an article following the discussion on the NC Virtual Public School performance audit.

 

State Board of Education

September Monthly Meeting

The SBE met for their monthly meeting on Wednesday, September 2, and Thursday, September 3. Board members addressed the following:

ESSER Fund: Board members were presented with DPI division action plans for the use of the 10% reserve of federal ESSER funds (authorized by the CARES Act) that the SBE previously approved at the July monthly meeting to be reserved for state level initiatives (9.5%) and administrative services (0.5%). Board members were also presented with and approved allocations for two of these action plans:

  • $2.2 million for public school unit supplemental funds (PRC 164)
  • $4.5 million for partnerships with community organizations (PRC 168)

It was stated that the Board will be presented with and vote on additional action plans and allocations of ESSER funds soon.

GEER Fund: The GEER Fund is included in the CARES Act and is intended to provide emergency support to school districts, higher education institutions, or other education-related entities. Governor Cooper is directing:

Transportation allotment policy provision: Current SBE transportation allotment policy requires that the use of these funds be used only for the transportation of K-12 students to, from, and between schools for instructional programs. The Board approved a provision to the allotment policy that would allow funds to also be used “to support yellow school bus operations for purposes which support students’ nutrition or instruction in any state of disaster or local state of emergency declared under 166A of the General Statutes.”

DHHS COVD-19 Update: The COVID-19 presentation from DHHS staff covered K-12 school reopening updates. As of September 1, there have been six total confirmed clusters in K-12 schools, of which most cases were among staff. DHHS defines a COVID-19 cluster in a school setting as “a minimum of five laboratory-confirmed cases with illness onsets or initial positive results within a 14-day period and plausible epidemiologic linkage between cases.” K-12 school reopening survey results found that 51% of traditional public schools are operating in Plan B and 49% in Plan C. For more on this presentation, click here.

In addition to this month’s regular agenda items, the Board unanimously voted to reelect Eric Davis as chairman and Alan Duncan as vice chairman of the State Board of Education for the next two years.

Click here to access all meeting materials.

 

August 14 Called Meeting

During the Friday, August 14 meeting, the SBE addressed increasing enrollment for the State’s two virtual charter schools for the 2020-2021 school year. This agenda item was initially presented during the August monthly meeting when Board members were presented with a request from the Office of Charter Schools to increase enrollment above the statutory maximum for NC Cyber Academy (formerly NC Connections Academy) and NC Virtual Academy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The request was for a 1,000-student enrollment increase for NC Cyber Academy and a 2,800-student enrollment increase for NC Virtual Academy. Board members and advisors were also presented with the impact that this late increase to virtual charter school enrollment would have on LEA funding, which included the example of Cumberland County Schools seeing a reduction of up to $2.7 million this school year.

Following lengthy discussion among Board members, advisors, and staff, Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest proposed an alternate motion. This motion would add the requirement of a weighted lottery with preference to students without access to full-time virtual school or without home computer or internet access. The Board’s attorney stated this proposed motion would be in violation of the statute that requires charter schools to be open to all students. Board members eventually voted 7-5 in opposition of the initial motion. Click here to access an article covering the Board’s decision.

Although the SBE voted against these enrollment increases, HB 1105, which is now awaiting the Governor’s signature, includes a section increasing enrollment in the State’s two virtual charter schools for the 2020-2021 school year.

Click here to access all meeting materials.

 

USDA Extends Meal Delivery Program

This week the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that is has extended the meal delivery program until either December 31, 2020, or until the money for the program runs out. Click here to access the USDA press release for more details.

 

Leandro Update

On Tuesday, September 1, Judge David Lee signed a consent order that calls for spending $426.9 million on the public-school system in 2021. This would be the first step of an eight-year plan to uphold by the State’s constitutional obligation of providing each student with the opportunity to a sound basic education. The approval of this plan follows the release of an August 26 interview with Judge Howard Manning who previously presided over the Leandro case for almost two decades.

For more on the plan, click here and here.

 

Governor’s Recommended Budget Adjustments

On Wednesday, August 26, Governor Cooper presented his $25 billion budget recommendation, which includes the following:

  • $50 million for ensuring the opportunity to a sound basic education (Leandro)
  • $230 million for teacher and principal bonuses
  • $50 million for noncertified personnel bonuses

Click here for the full recommended budget.

Click here for an article explaining the Governor’s recommended budget adjustments with additional context.

 

House Select Committee on COVID-19 Education Working Group

The House Select Committee on COVID-19 Education Working Group held a meeting on Tuesday, August 25. The SBE and DPI presented on K-12 education needs and challenges for the 2020-2021 school year. The presentation requested that legislators hold harmless ADM funding and principal pay (which is based on ADM) for the 2020-2021 school year. The following were also highlighted as top priorities:

  • $44.5 million for personal protective equipment, including disposable face coverings, hand sanitizer, facial tissues, and disposable gloves/gowns for school nurses
  • $18 million to continue using yellow school buses to deliver meals and instructional resources and to provide mobile hot spots
  • $15 million to increase student access to internet connectivity/broadband service

Click here for the presentation that includes a full list of funding requests.

Click here for an article with more information on the meeting.

 

Reopening of Public Schools

NCSBA has been maintaining a chart containing each LEA’s reopening plan for the 2020-2021 school year. Click here to access the chart.

 

2020-2021 Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund

Application forms and guidance for the 2020-2021 NBPSCF Capital Construction Grants are available on the DPI School Planning website. The deadline to submit applications and supporting materials is September 15, 2020. Questions about the NBPSCF Grant program should be directed to Nathan Maune, AIA (School Planning Section Chief) via email: nathan.maune@dpi.nc.gov.

 

2020 Statewide Facility Needs Survey
Every five years school districts are required to submit their Facility Needs Survey. The survey and guidance are available on the DPI School Planning websiteThe deadline to submit the completed survey is January 8, 2021. Questions about the 2020 FNS should be directed to Nathan Maune, AIA (School Planning Section Chief), via email: nathan.maune@dpi.nc.gov.

 

 

 

Leanne E. Winner
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6686

Bruce Mildwurf
Associate Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6692

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6677

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6688

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – September 4, 2020
read more
NCSBA Legislative Update – August 7, 2020

NCSBA Legislative Update – August 7, 2020

Five-Year Facility Needs Survey

School districts are to submit the detailed report by October 30, 2020. Every five years the State of North Carolina requires school districts to estimate the funds needed for new construction, additions, or renovations to existing facilities. The survey requirements were emailed to district superintendents on July 31, 2020, providing a short window of time for facilities departments to complete data collection and submit their report to the State. It is important that you to fill out the survey accurately and completely since State leaders have used the results from past surveys to determine the need for a statewide K-12 bond for school capital.

 

State Board of Education

August Monthly Meeting

The SBE met for their monthly meeting on Wednesday, August 5, and Thursday, August 6. Board members addressed the following:

Testing for the 2020-21 school year: The SBE approved DPI’s recommendation requiring all students to take the 2020-21 school year mandatory tests in-person. School districts and charter schools that are beginning the school year with virtual instruction have the option of waiting to give the tests until in-person instruction resumes or arranging for students to take tests at school sanctioned sites that meet DHHS requirements. Mandatory tests include:

  • Beginning-of-Grade 3 Test (BOG3)
  • End-of-Course Tests (EOCs)
  • End-of-Grade Tests (EOGs)

When asked about the fourth-grade reading assessment that must be completed within the first 10 days of the school year, DPI staff confirmed that this assessment can be done remotely. Dr. Tammy Howard, DPI Director of Accountability Services, stated that DPI is not expecting a waiver from the US Department of Education for federally mandated state assessments. Additionally, students who are enrolled in the new virtual academies/programs will be required to take these mandatory tests in person.

School districts are also given the option of administering the 2019-20 school year EOGs in fall 2020, but only for the purpose of providing educators and parents with student performance measures. DPI recommends that “the results from these tests not be used for accountability or any comparison of public school units.” DPI also recommends that the tests be available for in-person and remote students. To access an article summarizing the 2020-21 testing presentation, click here.

Request to expand virtual charter school enrollment for the 2020-21 school year: The Office of Charter Schools (OCS) presented a request to increase enrollment above the statutory maximum for NC’s two virtual charters: NC Cyber Academy (formerly NC Connections Academy) and NC Virtual Academy. This request is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and would only apply to the 2020-21 school year. There is currently a combined waitlist total of almost 9,000 students for the two virtual charter schools. Both schools have said that they are receptive to increasing their enrollment and assured OCS staff that they are equipped to quickly train additional teachers in virtual instruction. As was expected, many Board members had questions and concerns regarding:

  • How many students would be allowed to enroll if the motion for “fluid and open enrollment” was approved
  • How the virtual charter schools would accommodate increased enrollment
  • The location of currently enrolled and waitlisted students
  • What students would receive enrollment priority
  • How schools plan to deliver quality instruction based on previous years of negative school performance

Board members will be provided with data on the two virtual charter schools and answers to questions and concerns before voting on this item. Because the next SBE meeting is scheduled two weeks after the first day of the 2020-21 school year, the SBE would need to hold a specially called meeting to vote on the enrollment expansion request before the start of the school year.

Since the beginning of their charters in 2016, both NC Cyber Academy and NC Virtual Academy have received D performance grades and have not met growth. If you have concerns about these schools expanding their enrollment, we urge you to contact your SBE members as soon as possible.

Hold harmless proposal for school district ADM funding: SBE Chairman Eric Davis presented an additional agenda item calling for the NC General Assembly to hold school districts harmless for average daily membership (ADM) funding reductions. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, LEAs could potentially experience decreased student enrollment for the 2020-21 school year. This proposal was unanimously approved.

Click here to access all meeting materials.

 

July 24 Called Meeting

During the July 24 meeting, the SBE approved the following agenda items:

DHHS’s StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Tool Kit (K-12): The Board approved the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Tool Kit (K-12), updated as of July 24, 2020. Susan Gale Perry, DHHS Chief Deputy Secretary, briefed the Board on the changes made to the toolkit since its initial publication on June 8, 2020. A few of the changes are as follows:

  • Effective July 14, 2020 and until further notice, schools must operate under Plan B health and safety requirements unless they choose the more restrictive Plan C
  • Schools may choose between Plan B and Plan C at any time
  • Schools are expected to offer full-time virtual instruction for higher-risk students and teachers
  • Instead of limiting school capacity to 50% as stated in the original toolkit, schools must limit total number of people in the building so that six feet of distancing is possible
  • Seating on buses will be limited to one student per seat (unless a family member)
  • Guidance is provided on how teachers and staff should interact with each other in the safest way possible (previously only covered students)
  • Face coverings are required for all K-12 students, teachers, staff, and adult visitors except when eating, drinking, or strenuously exercising

K-3 reading diagnostic tools for the 2020-21 school year: Board members voted to approve two additional K-3 reading diagnostic tools, bringing the total number to six. After DPI staff confirms that both products are compatible with the Education Value-Added Assessment System, the following two diagnostic tools will be added to the approved list for K-3 reading:

  • Amplify Reading 3D
  • Edmentum—Exact Path Individualized Learning Solution

At the July monthly meeting Board members approved the following diagnostic tools:

  • Istation
  • MAP (NWEA)
  • STAR Reading/Early Literacy
  • i-Ready

There will be no additional vendors considered for the upcoming school year.

Transportation allotment policy: The Board also approved a change in the transportation allotment policy (PRC 056) to authorize DPI to withhold up to $12 million from transportation funding to be used for transportation expenses related to emergency school nutrition services provided between July 1, 2020 and the first instructional day of the 2020-21 school year. This $12 million is authorized by S.L. 2020-80, Section 2.2.

 

Click here to access an article summarizing the meeting.

Click here to access all meeting materials.

 

Reopening of Public Schools

NCSBA has been maintaining a chart containing each LEA’s reopening plan for the 2020-21 school year. Click here to access the chart.

 

Governor’s Education and Nutrition Working Group

The Governor’s Education and Nutrition Working Group held their last meeting on Thursday, July 30. During this meeting there were updates on school reopening, access to childcare, and access to nutritious food.

School Reopening

  • The State distributed PPE Starter Packs to all public school units for school nurses and delegated staff in June, which will last schools approximately two months. The PPE Starter Packs include:
    • 347,600 disposable surgical masks
    • 81,200 disposable gowns
    • 16,500 thermometers
    • 8,200 reusable face shields
  • The State has purchased and distributed five reusable cloth face coverings for each K-12 student, teacher, and staff (over 1.74 million individuals)
  • DPI pursuing maximum flexibility to allow districts to spend federal CARES Act funds to pay for resources to meet their needs

Access to Childcare

  • DHHS anticipates expending all CARES Act funds allocated for child care
    • $34.7 million for emergency child care subsidy, which served 20,000+ children
    • $38 million for teacher and staff bonuses (for 25,000+ individuals)
    • $57 million for operational grants for 3,800+ open programs in April, May, and June
    • Purchased PPE and cleaning supplies
    • Projected $23 million for final round of operational grants in July
    • Projected $10 million to cover parent copayments for families receiving subsidy in June and July at open programs

Access to Nutritious Food

  • Schools have continued to provide meals over the summer
    • May: 11.1 million meals at an average of 855 sites
    • June: 7.9 million meals at an average of 637 sites
    • July: 4.5 million meals at an average of 450 meal sites
  • Emergency Meals to You (partnership with Carolina Hunger Institute) continuing through August 30
    • Provided meal boxes to over 12,000 children
    • Totaling more than 2 million meals since May
  • Working with the US Department of Agriculture to understand flexibilities to continue to provide meals to as many children as possible at no cost
  • To continue to provide meals by yellow school buses,
    • Need to be operating under emergency declaration
    • Need approval to use funding source (PRC-056)
    • Each local board of education must decide on using funding for meals

 

National School Boards Association (NSBA) Update

NSBA’s Conference of State Association Legislative Staff (CSALS) held a meeting on Monday, August 3. NSBA staff informed members that there seems to be little progress on a fourth supplemental COVID appropriations bills, and that K-12 education does not seem to be a priority in discussions. The House passed a $1.3 trillion “minibus” spending package for FY 2021, which includes $73.5 billion for the US Department of Education. Even with this bill’s passage out of the House, it is believed that Congress will not enact an education appropriations bill this fall but will instead rely on a continuing resolution to keep education programs funded.

Among NSBA’s efforts is its continued lobbying for $4 billion in funds for the E-Rate program, which will help reduce the homework gap. According to NSBA staff, participation on their “Day of Action” a few weeks ago consisted of 2,200 emails and calls made to Congress in support of this program.

 

 

 

Leanne E. Winner
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6686

Bruce Mildwurf
Associate Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6692

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6677

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6688

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – August 7, 2020
read more