Legislative Updates & Alerts

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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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NCSBA Legislative Update – July 10, 2020

NCSBA Legislative Update – July 10, 2020

This Week at the Legislature

Legislators met in Raleigh for two days this week to wrap up any unfinished business before adjourning until September 2. On Tuesday, the House Rules Committee replaced the contents of SB 374 with language that would allow local boards of education to schedule remote learning days prior to August 24. In hopes of modifying language in SB 113: Education Omnibus (S.L. 2020-49) that requires schools to have an opening date of August 17 but, based on guidance from legislative staff, prohibits remote learning prior to August 24, the House quickly passed SB 374 and sent it to the Senate. The bill only made it to the Senate Rules Committee before the legislature’s adjournment on Wednesday. Because the Senate did not choose to take up the bill, Senate leader Phil Berger stated that the first week of school will be in-person instruction. Click here to read more about Senator Berger’s statements. Now all eyes turn to the Governor and his announcement next week on the reopening of school.

The Governmental Relations team will be sending out the 2020 Legislative Session Summary on Tuesday, July 14.

 

Reopening of Public Schools

During Thursday’s press conference, Governor Cooper stated that next week he will announce which plan will be utilized for the reopening of public schools in August, which will include information about face covering requirements in schools. Click here for an article further explaining the Governor’s expected school reopening announcement. As a reminder, DPI/SBE’s school reopening guidance proposes three potential plans: Plan A requiring minimal social distancing, Plan B requiring moderate social distancing, and Plan C requiring remote learning.

In national news, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos stated that federal education funding could be withheld if schools do not reopen for in-person instruction this fall. Following this announcement and the President’s criticism of the CDC’s school safety guidelines, the Vice President stated that the CDC will release another round of guidance for schools next week.

As school start dates are quickly approaching, states will begin utilizing more of their CARES Act funds. This week, several states filed a lawsuit challenging DeVos’s rule that requires a portion of CARES Act funds for public school districts to be reserved for private schools. This rule was included in the Secretary’s nonbinding guidance released in April, which the states claim is an inaccurate and unlawful interpretation of the CARES Act language. Click here to read more about the lawsuit.

 

State Board of Education

The State Board of Education met for their monthly meeting on Wednesday, July 8, and Thursday, July 9. Board members addressed the following:

K-12 social studies standards adoption: The SBE voted to delay the adoption of new K-12 social studies standards by one year, per request of teachers. The request is due partly to the circumstances of COVID-19 but also to an overarching call for more diverse history standards. To read more about the conversation around modifying these standards, click here. DPI will continue to shape the standards and present new versions to the Board for approval in early 2021. Because of the vote to delay, Board members also voted to modify social studies graduation requirements for freshmen starting in 2020-21. These freshmen will be required to take world history and economics and personal finance before graduating, as well as either the new or current founding principles course and either the new American history course or one of the two current American history courses.

2020-21 K-3 reading diagnostic: For the 2020-21 school year, public schools will have the opportunity to choose a K-3 reading diagnostic tool from a list approved by the SBE. From the list of potential diagnostic tools, four were approved: Istation, MAP (NWEA), STAR Reading/Early Literacy, and i-Ready. Many tools were not approved due to their incompatibility with EVAAS, including Amplify Reading. Board members were told that Amplify, as well as Imagine Learning, are working towards gaining approval but will most likely not come before the Board until too late into the school year for implementation.

CARES Act budget proposals: Board members were presented with two budget proposals for the 10% reserve of CARES Act funds that DPI was not required to subaward to LEAs, innovative, regional, charter, and lab schools. The first proposal was created with input from DPI staff, LEAs, local representatives, and other education stakeholders. The second proposal was based off the first but includes input from the SBE’s Business Operations Committee (BSOP). Both proposals were similar in many respects, with differences including funding for childcare, exceptional children services, and development of curriculum. The Board voted 7-3 to approve the BSOP proposal.

DHHS’s COVID-19 update: The Board was presented with data on children and schools, guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics, and methods for protecting vulnerable populations. While schools have not proven to be major hotspots for COVID-19 transmission and children are less likely to become infected, DHHS presenters noted the importance of protecting all children, including the most vulnerable and those from communities that have been disproportionately affected by the virus. Based on the information presented, Board members noted the importance of giving families the option of remote learning, as well as protecting teachers and staff who are more susceptible to spread of the virus. For more on the data and information presented, click here.

Click here to access all meeting materials.

 

John Locke Foundation Virtual Discussion on Education

Tomorrow morning at 10:00 am the John Locke Foundation is hosting a virtual event that will address “the future of education, how we should best serve our kids, and how we energize the teaching profession by broadening the applicant pool and rewarding effective teachers.” Guest speakers include Senator Deanna Ballard of Watauga County and State Board of Education member Dr. Olivia Oxendine. Click here for more details and how to watch. Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement of the presentation content, as we have no advanced knowledge as to what will be presented.

 

 

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 – July 10, 2020
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NCSBA Legislative Update – June 26, 2020

NCSBA Legislative Update – June 26, 2020

This Week at the Legislature

This week was full of long days and late nights as both the House and the Senate wrapped up this portion of the 2020 legislative short session. Thursday night bled into Friday morning as conference committees settled disagreements and legislators voted on the passage of this session’s final bills. In addition to existing education bills, legislators sent four bills containing newly added K-12 education provisions to the Governor for final approval: HB 1023, SB 113, SB 212, and SB 681. See summaries of these bills below. While there were other education bills with movement this week, including the bond bill, the adjournment resolution does not allow further consideration of these bills when legislators return in September. However, we encourage you to read this op-ed by J. Wendell Hall published in EdNC concerning the need for a bond.

Although legislators finished all major business this week, Senate leader Phil Berger stated that they could meet again in the next two weeks for veto override votes or other pertinent issues. The adjournment resolution schedules a reconvening on September 2, 2020, but only to address COVID-19 funding, appointments, and veto overrides. Before the Senate adjourned early this morning, Senator Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, unexpectedly announced his retirement. Senator Tillman served in the Senate for 18 years and chaired the Senate Education and Senate Education Appropriations Committees for many years.

 

Statewide bills with new education provisions:

HB 1023: Coronavirus Relief Fund/Additions & Revisions

A Senate Appropriations Committee substitute replaced the contents of the original bill with modifications to HB 1043: 2020 COVID-19 Recovery Act (S.L. 2020-4), as well as additional provisions and appropriations. The bill does the following:

  • Extends the use of emergency school nutrition funds through December 30, 2020 and expands the program to include summer meals
  • Allocates $7 million for personal protective equipment for public schools and to facilitate in-person instruction for the 2020-21 school year
  • Allocates $5 million to DPI to award grants for services to exceptional children who lost critical services due to COVID-19 school closures
  • Permits DPI to withhold up to $12 million from the transportation allotment to cover transportation expenses related to emergency school nutrition services in the summer of 2020
  • Requires SBE to report on unpaid meal charges
  • Requires DPI to transfer $3.9 million in nonrecurring funds from the School Bus Replacement Fund to cover costs of reduced-price lunches
  • Allocates $2.5 million to establish a statewide pilot program to promote access to innovative digital and personalized learning solutions for high school students
  • Reduces appropriations to the School Technology Fund by $18 million in nonrecurring funds and appropriates these funds to the School Business System Modernization Plan

 

SB 113: Education Omnibus

The permanent year-round school definition was removed from this bill on Wednesday, June 24 and added to SB 212 (see below) after 1:00 am this morning. The conference committee substitute for SB 113 does the following:

  • Authorizes flexibility in adopted single-track year-round calendars when needed to address the health and safety of students for the 2020-21 school year, as long as the altered calendar otherwise meets requirements for year-round schools
  • Modifies the definition of year-round schools to be calendars adopted prior to March 1, 2020 and modifies the definition of a single-track year-round school as providing an average of 44 to 46 instructional days followed by an average of 15 to 20 vacation days throughout the school year
    • This section address issues in Wake County but may pertain to other single-track year-round schools
  • Authorizes LEAs to use additional remote instruction days when needed to address the health and safety of students for the 2020-21 school year
  • Extends the use of emergency school nutrition funds through December 30, 2020 and expands the program to include summer meals
  • Exempts certain school psychologists from NC Psychology Board Licensure
  • Clarifies usage of Digital Learning Plan funds to economically distressed counties
  • Allows local management entity/managed care organization reinvestment plans to include providing assistance to public school units
  • Revises the school administrator intern stipend to be based on the higher of the beginning salary of an assistant principal or, for a teacher who becomes an intern, at least as much as they would earn as a teacher on the salary schedule
  • Extends the maximum grant term from five to six years for the NC Transforming Principal Preparation Program

 

SB 681: Agency Policy Directives/2019-2020

The conference committee substitute contains the following K-12 education provisions that were included in the 2019 vetoed budget bill:

  • Requires LEAs to publish the schedule of fees on their website each school year instead of reporting to the Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Directs the SBE to include the completion of one arts education credit between grades six through 12 as a graduation requirement
  • Requires the SBE to establish an advanced teaching roles program that links teacher performance and professional growth to salary increases
  • Expands the Schools That Lead Pilot Program from 60 to 75 schools

 

SB 212: Capital Appropriations/R&R/DIT/Cybersecurity

The conference committee substitute contains a provision making permanent the temporary 2020-21 school year definition of a year-round school. At least one of the following plans would need to be utilized to be considered year-round:

  1. A plan dividing students into four groups and requiring each group to be in school for assigned and staggered quarters each school calendar year.
  2. A plan providing students be scheduled to attend 45 instructional days followed by 15 days of vacation, repeated throughout the school calendar year.
  3. A plan dividing the school calendar year into five nine-week sessions of classes and requiring each student to attend four assigned and staggered sessions out of the five nine-week sessions to complete the student’s instructional year.

 

Additional statewide education-related bills with legislative action this week:

HB 1087: Water/Wastewater Public Enterprise Reform

  • Part III appropriates VW settlement funds, of which a portion is directed to the School Bus Program

 

HB 308: Regulatory Reform Act of 2020

  • Conference committee substitute adopted by the House and Senate and presented to the Governor on Thursday, June 25
  • Extends provisions of section 4.23 of SB 704: COVID-19 Recovery Act (S.L. 2020-3)
    • Reduces the waiting period from six months to one month for retirees who retired on or after October 1, 2019 but before April 1, 2020 to return to work for a position that is needed due to the COVID-19 pandemic
    • Extends the period for retirees to return to work from August 1, 2020 to August 31, 2020

 

HB 158: COVID-19 New Driver Response – signed into S.L. 2020-30 on Friday, June 19

HB 1050: PED/Low-Performing School Districts – passed the Senate and presented to the Governor on Wednesday, June 24

HB 1053: PED/Military OL & Audiology Interstate Compct – passed the Senate, concurred in the House, and presented to the Governor on Wednesday, June 24

HB 1096: UNC Omnibus Changes/UNC Lab School Funds – passed the Senate, concurred in the House, and presented to the Governor on Thursday, June 25

SB 816: CC Funds/CIHS Funds/CR Funds and Offsets – conference committee substitute adopted and presented to the Governor on Thursday, June 25

 

Local education-related bill with legislative action this week:

SB 796: Carteret Co. Bd. Of Educ. Districts – concurred in the Senate and became S.L. 2020-34 on Wednesday, June 24

 

The Governmental Relations team will provide a complete 2020 Legislative Summary in the coming weeks.

 

Reopening Public Schools

On Wednesday, June 24 Governor Cooper announced a statewide requirement for face coverings as the State continues to abide by the “Safer at Home” phase of reopening. Following this announcement, DHHS released an updated FAQ on its updated school reopening guidance. The FAQ states that masks are required for all school staff, adult visitors, and middle and high school students when within six feet of another person inside school buildings, anywhere on school grounds, and while traveling in school buses or other transportation vehicles. Although masks are not required for elementary school students, they are strongly encouraged.

Earlier this session, legislators passed a provision in SB 704: COVID-19 Recovery Act (S.L. 2020-3) exempting the State’s anti-mask law through August 1, 2020. While the House approved an amendment in SB 782 that would extend the exemption through February 2021, the provision was later removed before passing both chambers. Click here to read an article about the controversy.

The Governor, in collaboration with DHHS, DPI, and SBE, will announce next Wednesday, July 1 which plan will be utilized for the reopening of public schools in the 2020-21 school year. DPI’s 116-page guidance proposes three potential plans: Plan A requiring minimal social distancing, Plan B requiring moderate social distancing, and Plan C requiring remote learning.

 

 

 

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 – June 26, 2020
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NCSBA Legislative Update – June 19, 2020

NCSBA Legislative Update – June 19, 2020

This Week at the Legislature

Legislators wasted no time in moving numerous bills through committees and sessions this week, including many K-12 education bills. Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore share the same goal of wrapping up work next week but acknowledge that the short session may continue into the week after. While Senator Berger stated that the Senate has passed all appropriations bills it plans to address, Speaker Moore said the House still has spending bills to take up next week, as well as any veto override votes. It is possible that legislators may meet again in late July or early August, after the release of final tax numbers and more specific information about reopening schools.

On Tuesday, June 16 the House Education K-12 Committee adopted a committee substitute for HB 1035: 2020-2021 Calendar Modifications, which replaced the original education omnibus bill (contents included in SB 704/SL 2020-3) with a bill that removes restrictions on when remote instruction days can be scheduled and the number of remote instruction days allowed when needed to address the health and safety of students for the 2020-21 school year. The bill passed the House and is currently in the Senate Rules Committee. If your district is interested in the additional flexibility that this bill would provide for remote instruction days, we urge you to contact your Senators. HB 1035 also authorizes flexibility in adopted single-track year-round calendars when needed to address the health and safety of students for the 2020-21 school year and extends the use of emergency school nutrition funds to the Summer Food Services Program through December 30, 2020

SB 818: Compensation of Certain School Employees made it through both the Senate and the House and is now awaiting the Governor’s signature. This bill would provide a $350 bonus for teachers and instructional support personnel and step-increases for teachers and assistant principals. Despite its swift movement through each chamber, SB 818 received pushback from Democrats calling for higher bonuses and inclusion of non-certified personnel. The bill encourages Governor Cooper to use CARES Act funds to provide an additional $600 bonus for teachers and instructional support personnel, as well as noncertified personnel. Republicans claim that the federal dollars can be used for the bonuses, but Governor Cooper’s spokesperson has been quoted in the media saying that the funds are not authorized to be used in this way. To read more about the controversy over SB 818, click here.

HB 1225: Education & Transportation Bond Act of 2020 was amended on the House floor on Thursday, June 18 to move $350 million out of the transportation allotment and transfer $250 million to K-12 public schools and $100 million to community colleges. The proposed $3.1 billion bond would now provide $1.15 billion for transportation and $1.95 billion for education. The education portion would be divided as follows:

  • $1.05 billion for K-12 public schools
  • $600 million for the UNC System
  • $300 million for community colleges

The bill passed the first required vote in the House 113-4. The final House vote will be held on Monday, June 22. With House passage imminent, what will happen to HB 1225 in the Senate? According to the media, Senate Leader Phil Berger, who has not been a big fan of bonds in the past and instead prefers a pay-as-you-go methodology, said in response to the House bond bill, “I just don’t think it’s wise to go borrow money when you know that the money you’ve got coming in is less than what was previously anticipated.” But Berger added that the pay-as-you-go method will be difficult given the state’s finances as a result of the pandemic: “At some point I think we might have to borrow some money.”

If signed into law, the bond referendum would be split into two questions on the November 2020 ballot, one on education and one on transportation.

 

Additional statewide education-related bills with legislative action this week:

HB 1105: COVID/Supplementary G.R.E.A.T. Grant Period

  • Approved by the House Appropriations and House Rules Committees and will be calendared
  • Expands broadband infrastructure in the State, which would improve remote teaching and learning connectivity

SB 816: Funds for CC Enrollment Growth/CIHS Funds

  • Failed to concur in the Senate and conference committee appointed
  • Appropriates $1.9 million in nonrecurring funds to eight cooperative innovative high schools for the 2020-21 fiscal year

HB 158: COVID-19 New Driver Response

  • Presented to the Governor on Tuesday, June 16
  • Provides accommodations for driver education coursework interrupted by school closures on March 13
  • Temporarily waives the road test requirement to obtain an initial provisional driver’s license (Level 2 limited provisional license)

HB 1050: PED/Low-Performing School Districts – approved by the Senate Education/Higher Education and Senate Rules Committees and placed on the Senate calendar for Monday, June 22

HB 1096: UNC Omnibus Changes/UNC Lab School Funds – passed the House, approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee, and referred to the Senate Rules Committee

HB 1218: Salary-Related Contribs/Debt Service Funds – passed the House and presented to the Governor on Thursday, June 18

SB 374: Regulatory Reform Act of 2020 – approved by the House Regulatory Reform
Committee and referred to the House Rules Committee

SB 408: COLA for TSERS & CJRS – approved by the House Pensions and Retirement Committee and referred to the House Appropriations Committee

SB 706: Educ. Changes for Military-Connected Students – approved by the Senate Education/Higher Education and Senate Rules Committees and passed the Senate

SB 719: Retirement Tech/Protect/& Other Changes – passed the Senate and presented to the Governor on Thursday, June 18

 

Local education-related bills with legislative action this week:

HB 1113: Local Option Sales Tax/School Construction – approved by the House Finance and House Rules Committees and placed on the House calendar for Monday, June 22

HB 1151: Asheville-Buncombe Bd. of Trustees – became S.L. 2020-20 on Wednesday, June 17

SB 796: Carteret Co. Bd. Of Educ. Districts – passed the House and sent to the Senate for concurrence

 

Click here to view the status of education-related bills.

 

Leandro Action Plan

On Monday, June 15 the fight for the opportunity to a sound basic education continued with the filing of the Leandro action plan for fiscal year 2021. The action plan covers the seven key areas provided in Judge David Lee’s consent order released in January 2020. These key areas were developed following the release of the 301-page WestEd Report. WestEd is the independent consultant appointed by Judge Lee to develop recommendations for the State to best achieve its constitutional requirement of providing every student with the opportunity to a sound basic education. Both HB 1129: Ensure a Sound Basic Education and HB 1130: Invest in a Sound Basic Education address the Leandro recommendations, but neither have seen movement.

 

 

 

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 – June 19, 2020
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