Legislative Updates & Alerts

NCSBA Legislative Update – November 19, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – November 19, 2021

 

State Budget

After months of waiting, we finally have a State budget, SB 105: 2021 Appropriations Act/SL 2021-180. On Monday, a conference budget report was released, followed by bipartisan passage in the Senate (41-7) and the House (101-10). The budget was then quickly signed into law by the governor on Thursday afternoon.

This State budget enacts an average 5% raise over the biennium for teachers and most school employees and also provides bonuses. Noncertified school employees will receive a $13/hour minimum wage in the 2021-2022 fiscal year and a $15/hour minimum wage in the 2022-2023 fiscal year. There is an ADM hold harmless provision for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, as well as the creation of the new Public School Building Repair and Renovation Fund that will benefit all school districts. For more information on education-related provisions included in the State budget, click here to access NCSBA’s summaries.

The release and approval of this State budget follows roughly three months of conference committee negotiations, which included almost two months of private negotiations between Republican legislative leaders and Democratic Governor Roy Cooper. Despite a budget agreement not being reached with the governor, when announcing that he would sign the budget into law, Governor Cooper explained that it is because the good outweighs the bad. Following his signing of the budget, the governor stated, “I will continue to fight for progress where this budget falls short but believe that, on balance, it is an important step in the right direction.”

The total General Fund allocation is:

  • $25.9 billion in FY 2021-2022 (4.3% increase)
  • $27 billion in FY 2022-2023 (4.1% increase from FY 2021-2022)

For K-12 public education, the conference budget report appropriates:

  • $10.6 billion in FY 2021-2022 (5.9% increase)
  • $10.9 billion in FY 2022-2023 (3.1% increase from FY 2021-2022)

Click here for NCSBA’s summaries of the budget’s education provisions.
Click here for NCSBA’s summary of the budget’s education appropriations.
Click here for the budget bill.
Click here for the budget money report.

The Governmental Relations Team is working on a more in-depth summary of every education-related budget provision, which we will share with you in the coming weeks. Click here and here for articles on the budget.

HB 91: Accountability and Fair Play in Athletics

A conference report for HB 91: Accountability and Fair Play in Athletics passed the Senate (41-7) and the House (71-43) and has been sent to the Governor. This bill requires the State Board of Education (SBE) to either enter into a memorandum of understanding with a nonprofit to administer high school interscholastic athletics (which could be the NC High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) but is not required to be) or assign administration to DPI. The conference report removed multiple sections that were in the previous version of the bill, including a requirement that public school units (PSUs) submit an annual interscholastic athletic report and restrictions on enrollments and transfers.

Authors of the bill (Senators Vickie Sawyer, R-Iredell; Todd Johnson, R-Union; and Tom McInnis, R-Richmond) say that HB 91 is a result of an ongoing investigation into the NCHSAA over the past two years concerning lack of transparency. The presentation and passage of this conference report follows meetings between representatives of the NCHSAA, the SBE, Governor Cooper, and legislators from both parties. Additionally, the NCHSAA did not express opposition to the passage of HB 91.

Bill Chart

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

 

On Wednesday, November 10, Superior Court Judge David Lee held a hearing on the Leandro case and ordered the transfer of over $1.7 billion from the unappropriated balance in the General Fund to fund the Leandro Comprehensive Remedial Plan. This order follows the plaintiffs’ November 1st request that Judge Lee order this fund transfer and the defendants’ November 8th response that confirmed the availability of the funds. (Note: Defendants are represented by Attorney General Josh Stein’s office.)

Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore released a joint statement saying “This case has devolved into an attempt by politically allied lawyers and the Governor to enact the Governor’s preferred budget plan via court order, cutting out the legislature from its proper and constitutional role.” Click here and here for articles on the hearing, lawmakers’ responses, and what future action might be taken. Click here for a chart from NC Policy Watch that outlines how the State budget aligns with the Leandro Plan.

 

There have been many changes to local school boards’ mask policies over the past two weeks. 31 school districts allow masks to be optional (four have pending effective dates) and seven districts allow masks to be optional with certain stipulations (see map below for more information). This leaves 77 school districts that continue to require masks. For comparison, two weeks ago, 20 districts allowed masks to be optional, two districts had optional policies with certain stipulations, and 93 districts had mask mandates.

NCSBA continues to track local school boards’ policies on school mask requirements as districts vote monthly on whether to modify their current policy (required by Section 10 of SB 654/SL 2021-130). Click here to access a chart of school board actions. If your school district changes its mask policy or you have corrections to the chart, please email information to Richard Bostic at rbostic@ncsba.org.

 

Last week at NCSBA’s Annual Conference, the Delegate Assembly voted to approve the 2022 NCSBA Legislative Agenda. This Agenda is an amended version of the 2021 NCSBA Legislative Agenda. Usually, NCSBA creates one legislative agenda for the two-year legislative session, but due to the unprecedented circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, NCSBA’s Legislative Committee decided it would be best to have the option to make modifications to the 2021 Agenda prior to the 2022 legislative session.

The 2022 Agenda includes a new section titled “Virtual Instruction”, new language on waivers and ADM hold harmless, and a few minor word changes. The following are the Agenda’s priorities:

  1. COVID-19
  2. Pandemic Learning Loss
  3. Virtual Instruction
  4. Accountability
  5. School Construction/Capital
  6. School Safety
  7. Recruiting and Retaining Top Talent
  8. Early Learning
  9. Administrator Ethics Training
  10. Local Charter School Funding/Relations

Click here to access the 2022 NCSBA Legislative Agenda.

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – November 19, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – November 5, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – November 5, 2021

 

Budget Negotiations

We have reached the fifth month of the new fiscal year as private budget negotiations continue between legislative leaders and the governor. This week’s budget news consists of Senate leader Phil Berger saying that legislative leaders remain “very, very far apart” on reaching a budget compromise with the governor. Senator Berger is also quoted saying “We’re probably getting real close to the point where we are going to have to just put together a conference report (between the House and the Senate) and submit it to the chambers for a vote.” House Speaker Tim Moore stated that he is hopeful that a budget proposal could be released the week after next. The legislature will be taking a break next week, but Speaker Moore said that budget negotiations with the governor will continue. Click here for an article on budget talk this week.

Distribution of Federal COVID Funding

The Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations, Subcommittee on Use and Distribution on Federal COVID Funding held its first meeting on Wednesday and was presented with the following:

Redistricting

This week the General Assembly voted along party lines to approve legislative and congressional maps, which do not require the governor’s signature to become law.

Click here for an article on these new maps.

 

This week the State Board of Education met for its biannual planning and work session, as well as its monthly meeting. The following are presentations that were provided during the Board’s #NCBetheChange planning and work session:

Following the presentations, Board members reflected on the important work to be done. From social and emotional learning to school finance, Board members expressed the need to figure out what is working versus what is not, how to learn from schools and districts, and how to move forward with the Board’s strategic plan. In terms of implementing what the Board learned about education funding, State Superintendent Catherine Truitt voiced that more money does not always create better outcomes and that root cause analysis, as well as evaluations of new and existing programs, are key to improving many education issues.

Additionally, some Board members explained how they feel like they’ve been dealing with the same problems for years and really hope that now is the time that change will begin to take place. Along with operationalizing the Board’s strategic plan, the Board hopes to create a clear path forward that will withstand future changes in DPI leadership. Click here to access the planning and work session agenda, which includes additional information on presenters.

During the monthly meeting, the Board was presented with DPI Office of Learning Recovery and Acceleration’s draft research and evaluation plan pertaining to student’s lost instructional time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The term “lost instructional time” refers to disrupted student learning caused by unprecedented experiences, which DPI hopes to capture the impacts of by analyzing what student outcomes were (in 2018-2019), what they were predicted to be prior COVID-19, and what they are now. The hope is that this analysis will create a basis for long-term plans for student learning recovery and how to track progress. The Board will receive an update on the draft plan in its December meeting

Additionally, the Board approved DPI’s request to allocate $3.6 million in unallocated Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) II funds, including $200,000 for the development of a graduate profile that supports accountability reform. This “portrait of a graduate” is part of the Superintendent’s Operation Polaris, which is her four-year strategic vision, and will be utilized by school districts to identify the skills and knowledge that will allow students to excel in their post-secondary plans. Click here for an article on the “portrait of a graduate”.

The Board did not receive a COVID-19 update from DHHS this month, but it is worth noting that on Friday, October 29, the FDA authorized emergency use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11. We will provide updates to DHHS guidance when it is released.

Click here to access all meeting materials.

 

Average daily membership (ADM) data released by DPI shows that traditional public school student enrollment slightly increased since last school year but remains low compared to pre-pandemic levels. So far in the 2021-2022 school year, there has been a 0.8% gain from the 2020-2021 school year, but an overall 4.3% decrease from the 2019- 2020 school year. (This data comparison is based on the first month’s ADM for each school year.) The 4.3% decrease can be compared to the 0.2% decrease from 2018-2019 to 2019-2020. This EdNC article includes an interactive map that shows ADM changes for each school district.

 

This week, according to a court filing, plaintiffs in the Leandro case requested that Superior Court Judge David Lee order State leaders to transfer over $1.7 billion from the unappropriated balance in the General Fund to fund the Leandro Comprehensive Remedial Plan. This request follows an October 18 court hearing where Judge Lee gave plaintiffs a November 1 deadline to submit a proposed court order requiring the General Assembly to fund the Plan, followed by defendants submitting their response by November 8. After the defendant’s response is received, Judge Lee stated that he may either enter an order or convene another court hearing. The Plan reportedly costs $690.7 million to fund in 2021-2022 and $1.06 billion in 2022-2023.

Click here and here for articles on this proposed court order.

 

Many local school boards approved changes to their mask policy this week. 20 school districts allow masks to be optional (Randolph County is effective November 15). Surry County allows masks to be optional on a school-by-school basis, and Hyde County allows masks to be optional for vaccinated students and staff (effective November 15). This leaves 93 school districts that continue to require masks. For comparison, last week 13 school districts allowed masks to be optional and 102 required masks.

NCSBA continues to track local school boards’ policies on school mask requirements as districts vote monthly on whether to modify their current policy (required by Section 10 of SB 654/SL 2021-130). Click here to access a chart of school board actions. If your school district changes its mask policy or you have corrections to the chart, please email information to Richard Bostic at rbostic@ncsba.org.

 

We recently released our first edition of the NCSBA 2021 Legislative Summary. We will update the Summary as education-related bills become law, and we will also include all education-related budget provisions that become law.

Click here to access the NCSBA 2021 Legislative Summary. The Legislative Summary can also be accessed by going to this NCSBA webpage and clicking Annual Legislative Summaries, which will take you to a webpage that includes a link to the 2021 Summary, as well as past legislative summaries.

Additionally, click here for a chart that lists the status of education-related bills.

 

As of 2:30 pm on Friday, November 5, there are no education-related meetings scheduled.

Due to NCSBA’s Annual Conference being held on Thursday, November 11, and Friday, November 12, we will not be sending out a Legislative Update next week. However, if there is a need to relay important education-related information, we will make sure you receive it.

 

 

 

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.org

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
rbostic@ncsba.org

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
rhoward@ncsba.org

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – November 5, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – October 29, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – October 29, 2021

 

Budget Negotiations

On Tuesday, House Speaker Tim Moore said that there is a possibility of a budget vote as soon as next week, but Senate leadership stated just a few days later that a budget compromise is unlikely to occur by next week. Governor Roy Cooper addressed the budget during Tuesday’s Teacher Advisory Committee meeting, explaining that disagreement on education funding is one of the reasons for ongoing budget negotiations with Republican legislative leadership. Cooper noted forces working against public education, including attacks on curriculum and diversion of funds to unaccountable private school vouchers. While he is frustrated about not having a budget, Cooper said he does not want a bad budget that hurts education.

Budget disagreements are credited to education, healthcare, and taxes, but agreements have been reached on a majority of issues, including broadband and higher education construction projects. These announcements follow last week’s budget counteroffer from Republican legislative leaders and the first in-person budget negotiation meeting between legislative majority and minority leaders and the governor.

 

The Governor’s Teacher Advisory Committee met on Tuesday to hear remarks from Governor Cooper (which can be found in the previous section), updates on the implementation of the Leandro Plan, and updates from the DRIVE Task Force (Developing a Representative and Inclusive Vision for Education).

Following Governor Cooper’s remarks on budget negotiations, Committee members voiced concerns about their own districts, including a teacher from Gaston County who said that there are 62 teacher openings in his district with zero applicants. Additionally, a teacher from Clinton City explained that mandatory educator trainings are cutting into weekends and personal time to the point that teachers are getting burnt out. Cooper acknowledged these issues and explained that teachers are leaving the profession for multiple reasons, including risks due to COVID-19 and lack of salary increases, which show the importance of investing more in public education.

The Committee meeting closed with member discussion, which included concern over the lack of certain stakeholders present in the Committee meetings. Specifically, there was a call to be more intentional about including State legislators because of the need for legislative action to implement the Leandro Plan. Click here for an article on the meeting that includes more on Committee member discussion. Click here to access the meeting agenda and materials.

 

This week the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) added a new FAQ related to K-12 schools and masks (on page 3). The updated guidance no longer recommends that school districts require all students and staff to wear masks in schools, but instead recommends mask mandates in communities with high or substantial rates of COVID-19 transmission. Communities with moderate to low levels of transmission can consider making masks optional for vaccinated individuals. When community transmission is at low levels, masks can be optional for everyone.

The updated guidance recommends that school districts base their mask requirements on county transmission rates, as defined by the CDC, which shows that all but two NC counties remain in the “high” and “substantial” categories. According to the CDC’s county map, Hyde County has low transmission rates and Nash County has moderate transmission rates (as of Friday afternoon).

In the new FAQ, DHHS notes that it will continue to reevaluate its COVID-19 guidance as more school-aged children become eligible for and receive the vaccine, which may be as early as the end of next week, according to a press release from Governor Cooper’s office. The press release says that more than 750 locations across the State are preparing to provide the vaccine to children 5 to 11 years old. Before the vaccine can be administered to this age group, the CDC needs to complete its review process, following Tuesday’s announcement by the FDA’s independent advisory panel recommending the use of Pfizer’s vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old.

 

Since last week’s update, six school boards across the State switched from a mandatory mask policy to a mask optional policy. Now, 13 school districts allow masks to be optional and 102 require masks.

NCSBA continues to track local school boards’ policies on school mask requirements as districts vote monthly on whether to modify their current policy (required by Section 10 of SB 654/SL 2021-130). Click here to access a chart of school board actions. If your school district changes its mask policy or you have corrections to the chart, please email information to Richard Bostic at rbostic@ncsba.org.

 

Last week we released our first edition of the NCSBA 2021 Legislative Summary. We will update the Summary as education-related bills become law, and we will also include all education-related budget provisions that become law.

Click here to access the NCSBA 2021 Legislative Summary. The Legislative Summary can also be accessed by going to this NCSBA webpage and clicking Annual Legislative Summaries, which will take you to a webpage that includes a link to the 2021 Summary, as well as past legislative summaries.

Additionally, click here for a chart that lists the status of education-related bills.

 

Monday, November 1

2:00 pm – House Redistricting Committee – Legislative Offices Building, rm 643 (live stream)

Wednesday, November 3

9:00 am – Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations, Subcommittee on Use and Distribution on Federal COVID Funding – Legislative Building Auditorium (live stream)

Additional Education-Related Meeting

The State Board of Education will meet for its monthly meeting and fall planning session on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday next week.

 

 

 

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.org

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
rbostic@ncsba.org

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
rhoward@ncsba.org

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – October 29, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – October 22, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – October 22, 2021

 

Every year, NCSBA’s Governmental Relations Team provides a post-session summary of all education-related bills that have become law. Since it remains unclear when the General Assembly will adjourn, we felt now is as good a time as any to share with you summaries of bills that have become law so far this session. The GR Team will continue to update the document as additional bills become law. We will also include all education-related budget provisions, assuming that the governor and the legislature will come to an agreement on a new State budget (we remain hopeful).

Click here to access the NCSBA 2021 Legislative Summary, as of October 22, 2021. The Legislative Summary can also be accessed by going to this NCSBA webpage and clicking Annual Legislative Summaries, which will take you to a webpage that includes a link to the 2021 summary, as well as past legislative summaries.

Additionally, click here for a chart that lists the status of education-related bills.

 

Budget Negotiations

According to a news source, Republican legislative leaders sent a budget counteroffer to Governor Roy Cooper on Tuesday. This comes two weeks after Governor Cooper provided his initial counteroffer to the House and Senate’s budget compromise proposal.

According to another news source, lead budget writer, Representative Jason Saine, told reporters that the legislature’s budget counteroffer includes teacher raises closer to the House’s proposal, which is 5.5% over two years (rather than the Senate’s proposal of 3%). That is about half of the 10% teacher raise included in the Governor’s proposed budget released earlier this year. Saine believes that budget negotiations could take another week or two, and House Speaker Tim Moore explained, “We’re either getting to the point of having a compromise with the governor or simply proceeding with a legislative budget.”

SB 695: Various Education Changes

SB 695: Various Education Changes was signed into S.L. 2021-170 last Friday, October 15. This bill does the following:

  • Exempts principals granted a license for any school year from 2010-2011 to 2020-2021 from certain statutory licensure requirements and provides a waiver for certain individuals in the process of becoming a licensed principal
    • This provision is per the request of the State Board of Education and DPI
  • Allows LEAs to use a payroll deduction plan to pay eligible school personnel in 12 monthly installments
    • Language similar to HB 159, Section 1
  • Extends the submission of the Student Meal Debt Report from October 15, 2021, to October 15, 2023
    • Language similar to HB 159, Section 2
  • Authorizes public school units (PSUs) to hold State funds in local bank accounts for up to three business days after the date of drawing on the State funds, before making a final disbursement to the ultimate payee
    • This is a departure from the current cash management statute that requires the State Treasurer to keep money on deposit until final disbursement to the ultimate payee
    • In 2020, the State Treasurer’s office identified a problem during the pilot testing for the DPI School Business Modernization Development Process software implementation – without the change in this bill, the new software could potentially make PSUs out of compliance with the State Controller’s cash management statute
    • Language from HB 18

Click here for an official bill summary.

SB 496: DOI Omnibus Bill.-AB

SB 496: DOI Omnibus Bill.-AB (primary sponsors: Senators Todd Johnson, R-Union; Chuck Edwards, R-Henderson; Tom McInnis, R-Richmond) was modified and approved by the House Insurance Committee and referred to the House Rules Committee. Section 6 of this bill requires LEAs to provide the Commissioner of Insurance with a list of all its insurable buildings, equipment and contents of the building, and their insurance values by October 1 each year. Section 6 also requires LEAs to provide the Commissioner with copies of insurance policies when purchasing insurance from an authorized company. Click here for an official bill summary.

 

During a Leandro hearing on Monday, Superior Court Judge David Lee explained that he is not willing to wait for Republican legislative leaders and the governor to reach a budget compromise that may include funding for the Leandro Plan. Instead, he is giving the plaintiffs in the Leandro case until November 1 to submit a proposed court order that would require the General Assembly to fund the Plan. Then he will give the defendants (the State) until November 8 to respond to the proposal, after which Judge Lee may enter an order or convene another court hearing.

This week’s court hearing follows a hearing held on September 8, during which Judge Lee gave the General Assembly and the governor an October 18 deadline to fund the Plan, or he would explore his judicial powers to enforce the Plan’s implementation. The Plan reportedly costs $690.7 million to fund in 2021-2022 and $1.06 billion in 2022-2023. These funds would support the seven key areas outlined in a January 2020 consent order, including a high-quality teacher in each classroom, a high-quality principal in each school, and early education that ensures all students enter kindergarten on track for school success. Click here for an article on this week’s hearing.

Also on Monday, Senate leader Phil Berger’s office issued a press release pointing to data from the National Education Association showing that NC’s increase in per-pupil expenditures over the past decade mirrors the national 33% increase. This was followed by another press release that included quotes from Judge Lee during Monday’s hearing when he asked about a Kansas judge that ordered the closing of schools statewide. In the press release, Senator Berger explained that this is “another example of why the founders were right to divide power among the branches of government” and that “Judge Lee makes a mockery of our constitutional order with every additional hearing.” The press release also reiterated that the legislature is not a party in the Leandro case.

 

Currently, seven school districts allow masks to be optional and 108 districts require masks (pending confirmation on last night’s votes from Currituck, Durham, and Mitchell).

NCSBA continues to track local school boards’ policies on school mask requirements as districts vote monthly on whether to modify their current policy (required by Section 10 of SB 654/SL 2021-130). Click here to access a chart of school board actions. If your school district changes its mask policy or you have corrections to the chart, please email information to Richard Bostic at rbostic@ncsba.org.

 

Next Monday, October 25, and Tuesday, October 26, the House and Senate redistricting committees will hold public comment hearings on State House, State Senate, and congressional district maps. Click here to access the meeting schedule. Click here to submit public comment or to register to speak at the public hearings.

 

 

 

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.org

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
rbostic@ncsba.org

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
rhoward@ncsba.org

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – October 22, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – October 15, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – October 15, 2021

 

Budget Negotiations

Another week has come and gone as private budget negotiations continue between Republican legislative leaders and Governor Roy Cooper.

Status of Education-Related Bills

Click here for a chart that lists the status of education-related bills, including which bills have become session law.

 

This week the NC Task Force for Safer Schools met to hear comments from State leaders and to develop a statement on improving discourse at local school board meetings. The statement calls for adults to “demonstrate the behaviors we want our children to display” and to “prioritize working across differences to achieve our shared goal: a safe educational environment for our children.” (The complete statement is included at the end of this article.)

Governor Roy Cooper spoke to the Task Force about creating safer schools, especially through the lens of mental health. Cooper noted the importance of providing each student with access to a sound basic education by addressing how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected students’ mental health.

Attorney General Josh Stein discussed school safety and child gun violence, stating that “The number of child firearm deaths nearly doubled in just one year from 2019 to 2020, and that was true for older teens as well.” Task Force Chair Billy Lassiter also presented on gun violence, saying that 6,894 juvenile firearm offenses were received by Juvenile Justice (NC Department of Public Safety) in the past three years, with 5% (roughly 345) being school-based.

Click here for an article that includes the Task Force’s statement on discourse at local school board meetings, as well as comments from the Governor and Attorney General.

 

This week the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that over $1.1 billion will be committed to the second wave of funding from the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. This amount will fund over 2.4 million devices and 1.9 million broadband connections for off-campus use by students and school staff. To date, roughly $2.4 billion has been committed to providing these services, of which over $93 million has been committed to North Carolina.

Nearly 60% of applications from the first filing window have been processed, and the second application window just closed this week. Click here for the FCC news release.

 

This week the Avery County school board voted to switch from its mandatory mask policy for students in grades 3-12 (which was only in effect for one week) back to a mask optional policy for all grades. Now, seven school districts allow masks to be optional and 108 districts require masks.

NCSBA continues to track local school boards’ policies on school mask requirements as districts vote monthly on whether to modify their current policy (required by Section 10 of SB 654/SL 2021-130). Click here to access a chart of school board actions. If your school district changes its mask policy or you have corrections to the chart, please email information to Richard Bostic at rbostic@ncsba.org.

 

 

 

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.org

 

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
rbostic@ncsba.org

 

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
rhoward@ncsba.org

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – October 15, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – October 8, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – October 8, 2021

 

The State Board of Education met for its monthly meeting this week and was presented with the following:

Local boards of education COVID-19 responsibilities: The Board’s General Counsel presented an overview of an addition to the StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit, which explains that it is each local school board’s legal responsibility to take control measures against COVID-19 in schools. Control measures require a principal to report to the local health department anyone in a school who is reasonably suspected of having a communicable disease, like COVID-19. The local health director will then investigate the case, which may require school compliance in accessing records to help identify cases and close contacts. Next, the local health director is responsible for ensuring that all control measures (contact tracing, quarantine, isolation, and exclusion) are complied with. Click here for more information about local school boards’ legal responsibilities.

DHHS COVID-19 update: COVID-19 case rates remain high across the State. There are currently 258 active K-12 clusters (246 in public schools and 12 in private schools), compared to 72 one month ago. Based on data from August 26 through September 26, NC school districts with mask optional policies had an average of 17.2 clusters per 100 schools. This compares to an average of 6.9 clusters per 100 schools in NC school districts with consistent mask mandates that reported at least one cluster (see slide 8). Despite high case rates and increased K-12 clusters, all statewide COVID-19 metrics are on the decline.

Additionally, DHHS staff presented updates and additions to the StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit:

2020-2021 Read to Achieve data: The Board was presented with annual Read to Achieve (RtA) data, which shows that a majority of students in first, second, and third grade did not demonstrate reading proficiency. Since testing was waived in the 2019-2020 school year, DPI staff compared the 2020-2021 results to 2018-2019:

  • The percentage of first graders demonstrating proficiency dropped from 71% to 39%
  • The percentage of second graders demonstrating proficiency dropped from 78% to 43%
  • The percentage of third graders demonstrating proficiency dropped from 57% to 44%

Although accountability was waived due to COVID-19, DPI staff and Board members expressed concern over these drastic drops in reading proficiency. The Board was also presented with data showing that at least 60% of K-3 teachers demonstrate factual knowledge in science of reading instruction, but less than 40% of K-3 teachers understand the application of this knowledge. Click here for an article on this presentation.

2021-2022 Read to Achieve implementation guide: The Board was also presented with RtA implementation guide updates. This guide is based on the implementation of the science of reading, which is required in SB 387: Excellent Public Schools Act of 2021/SL 2021-8. Sections 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, and 12 were added to the guide, which include curriculum alignment, literacy interventions, assessments, and data collection. The Board voted to approve these final sections of the implementation guide.

Federal COVID-19 spending update: The Board received an informative update on the status of North Carolina’s spending of federal COVID-19 relief funds. This presentation provides a summary of each round of funds based on their purpose, and this chart includes a description, spending deadline, and status of specific allotments from each round of funds.

Click here to access all meeting materials. Click here to access an article on the meeting.

 

Budget Negotiations

Budget negotiations are still ongoing between Republican legislative leaders and Governor Roy Cooper. Budget details continue to remain private as the State has entered its fourth month of the new fiscal year without an approved State budget.

SB 695: Various Education Changes

SB 695: Various Education Changes was approved by the Senate 49-0 and was sent to the Governor for his signature. This bill does the following:

  • Exempts principals granted a license for any school year from 2010-2011 to 2020-2021 from certain statutory licensure requirements and provides a waiver for certain individuals in the process of becoming a licensed principal
    • This provision is per the request of the State Board of Education and DPI
  • Allows LEAs to use a payroll deduction plan to pay eligible school personnel in 12 monthly installments
  • Extends the submission of the Student Meal Debt Report from October 15, 2021, to October 15, 2023
  • Authorizes public school units (PSUs) to hold State funds in local bank accounts for up to three business days after the date of drawing on the State funds, before making a final disbursement to the ultimate payee
    • This is a departure from the current cash management statute that requires the State Treasurer to keep money on deposit until final disbursement to the ultimate payee
    • In 2020, the State Treasurer’s office identified a problem during the pilot testing for the DPI School Business Modernization Development Process software implementation – without the change in this bill, the new software could potentially make PSUs out of compliance with the State Controller’s cash management statute
    • Language from HB 18

Click here for an official bill summary.

Local Election Bills

Both HB 400: Asheville City Sch. Bd. Appt/Elections (primary sponsors: Representatives Susan Fisher, D-Buncombe; Brian Turner, D-Buncombe; John Ager, D-Buncombe) and HB 118: Buncombe School Bd. Election were amended and passed by the Senate State and Local Government Committee. The amendment to HB 400 removed a section that was then added to HB 118.

The new version of HB 118 changes the election method for the six Buncombe County Board of Education members that run from districts. Instead of being elected by voters from across Buncombe County, board members would only be elected by voters residing in their districts. HB 118 lists out requirements for the board in establishing and revising electoral districts. Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 400 changes the Asheville City Board of Education from an appointed board to an elected board and increases the board from five to seven members. Both HB 400 and HB 118 have been referred to the Senate Rules Committee.

 

Currently, 108 school districts require masks, six districts allow masks to be optional, and one requires masks for students in grades 3-12.

NCSBA continues to track local school boards’ policies on school mask requirements as districts vote monthly on whether to modify their current policy (required by Section 10 of SB 654/SL 2021-130). Click here to access a chart of school board actions. If your school district changes its mask policy or you have corrections to the chart, please email information to Richard Bostic at rbostic@ncsba.org.

 

 

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.org

 

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
rbostic@ncsba.org

 

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
rhoward@ncsba.org

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – October 8, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – October 1, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – October 1, 2021

 

Local School Board Mask Policies

This week two attempts were made to amend the requirement that local school boards vote at least once a month on modifying their district’s face mask policy (required in SB 654/SL 2021-130). The proposed amendment would require local school boards, in consultation with their local health director, to establish public health metrics that would determine when the board should consider modifying its mask policy, though it would not prevent the board from voting on the policy more frequently.

Both amendments were proposed to be added to SB 695: Various Education Changes (more on this bill in the next section), one during the House Rules Committee meeting on Tuesday night and one on the House floor on Wednesday morning. The House floor amendment failed 41-51, with all Democrats and one Republican voting for the amendment. Supporters of the amendment explained that it was in response to the unruly and threatening behavior that has become common at local school board meetings, and that if a school board does not intend to change its mask policy, based on metrics, there is no need to vote on it every month.

This legislative effort to modify the monthly mask policy vote requirement follows a letter sent to legislators last week by NCSBA Director of Governmental Relations, Bruce Mildwurf, requesting a modification to the monthly vote requirement. Additionally, NCSBA Executive Director, Leanne Winner, and NCSBA President, Amy Churchill, sent a letter to Governor Cooper requesting assistance in alleviating the tension and disorder at many local school board meetings across the State. Click here, here, and here for articles on the amendment and letters.

NCSBA is continuing to work with the NC Association of School Administrators (NCASA) and the NC School Superintendents’ Association (NCSSA) to address COVID-related issues impacting local school districts. For more on school districts’ masks policies, see the Local School Board Mask Policies section below.

SB 695: Various Education Changes

SB 695: Various Education Changes was gutted, amended, and approved in the House Rules Committee meeting on Tuesday. This bill previously dealt with medical action plans for schools, but now does the following:

  • Exempts principals granted a license for any school year from 2010-2011 to 2020-2021 from certain statutory licensure requirements and provides a waiver for certain individuals in the process of becoming a licensed principal
    • This provision is per the request of the State Board of Education and DPI
  • Allows LEAs to use a payroll deduction plan to pay eligible school personnel in 12 monthly installments
  • Extends the submission of the Student Meal Debt Report from October 15, 2021, to October 15, 2023
  • Authorizes public school units (PSUs) to hold State funds in local bank accounts for up to three business days after the date of drawing on the State funds, before making a final disbursement to the ultimate payee
    • This is a departure from the current cash management statute that requires the State Treasurer to keep money on deposit until final disbursement to the ultimate payee
    • In 2020, the State Treasurer’s office identified a problem during the pilot testing for the DPI School Business Modernization Development Process software implementation – without the change in this bill, the new software could potentially make PSUs out of compliance with the State Controller’s cash management statute
    • Language from HB 18

SB 695 passed the House 92-0 and has been sent to the Senate for a concurrence vote. Click here for an official bill summary.

Budget Negotiations

House Speaker Tim Moore announced that all unresolved budget items were agreed upon between the House and Senate, as of 9:30 am on Wednesday. This aligns with the legislative leaders’ goal of reaching an agreement in time to deliver a budget document to the Governor for his review this week. As we stated last week, the budget document being presented to the Governor will not be made public.

Additional Education-Related Bills

In last Friday’s Legislative Update, we reported that during the House Judiciary 2 Committee meeting this week SB 593: Special Education Due Process Hearings was scheduled to be heard and HB 64: Government Transparency Act of 2021 was expected to be heard for discussion and public comment only. That Committee meeting was cancelled earlier this week, so neither of those bills made progress. We will continue to provide updates on these two controversial bills.

 

Currently, 109 school districts require masks. Three districts allow masks to be optional, two have pending mask optional policies (Pender is effective on October 4 and Harnett is effective on October 5), and this week Avery County switched from being fully mask optional to requiring masks for all students in grades 3-12 (effective October 6).

NCSBA continues to track local school boards’ policies on school mask requirements as districts vote monthly on whether to modify their current policy (required by Section 10 of SB 654/SL 2021-130). Click here to access a chart of school board actions. If your school district changes its mask policy or you have corrections to the chart, please email information to Richard Bostic at rbostic@ncsba.org.

 

The Governor’s Commission on Access to Sound Basic Education met on Tuesday to receive an update on the implementation of the Leandro Comprehensive Remedial Plan. The Commission also received remarks from Governor Cooper, who stated that he will continue to advocate for full implementation of the Plan during State budget negotiations. Click here to see how the House and Senate budget proposals align with the Leandro Plan.

As a reminder, the Commission was created in July 2017 and consists of 19 members appointed by the Governor to develop recommendations on how the State can meet is constitutional obligation of providing every student access to a sound basic education. This presentation includes a timeline of work done on the Leandro case in recent years.

Since the Commission’s last meeting in July:

  • In early August, the State and State Board of Education submitted progress reports on the implementation of the Plan to the court
  • In late August, plaintiffs submitted a response to the progress reports
  • In early September, Superior Court Judge David Lee held a hearing where he stated that he is giving the General Assembly until October 18 to fully fund and implement the next two years of the Plan – then Judge Lee will explore his judicial powers to enforce the Plan’s implementation

The Commission also adopted a resolution that urges “all state bodies, entities, and agencies to take all necessary actions to implement and fund the State’s Plan…”

Click here for all meeting materials. Click here for an article on the meeting.

 

On Tuesday, the DRIVE (Developing a Representative and Inclusive Vision for Education) Task Force met to discuss the implementation of its DRIVE Report, which was presented to Governor Cooper on January 1, 2021. The DRIVE Task Force was established in December 2019 by the Governor with the goal of identifying ways to improve equity and inclusion in the teaching profession. The DRIVE Report includes recommendations from the Task Force on how to best meet this goal.

During the Tuesday meeting, Task Force members were assigned to two newly created subcommittees: action planning and community building. Each subcommittee met for the first time during the meeting via breakout sessions, and it is the Task Force’s goal that each subcommittee meet every two weeks. Additionally, Task Force Chair Anthony Graham stated that he will be requesting a two-year extension of the Governor’s Executive Order that created the Task Force, as implementation work continues.

Click here for an article on the meeting.

 

The UNC School of Government is hosting a virtual workshop called Financial Fiduciary Responsibilities of Local Elected Leaders on October 14, from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. Click here for more information and to register.

 

As of 2:00 pm on Friday, October 1, there are no education-related meetings scheduled.

 

Additional Education-Related Meeting

The State Board of Education will meet for its monthly meeting on Wednesday, October 6, and Thursday, October 7.

 

 

 

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.org

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
rbostic@ncsba.org

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
rhoward@ncsba.org

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – October 1, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – September 24, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – September 24, 2021

 

Budget Negotiations

The budget process was delayed yet again this week. On Tuesday, Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, told reporters that a budget compromise will most likely not be sent to the Governor until next week. (Last week House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, stated that he believed a budget compromise would be sent to the Governor this week.) Budget negotiators are expected to leave unagreed upon budget issues in the hands of Speaker Moore and Senator Berger by the end of this week. According to a news source, Senator Berger said that those issues will be worked on over the weekend. Both Senator Berger and Speaker Moore stated that their goal is to deliver a budget document to the Governor for his review next week. The budget document that will be presented to the Governor will not be made public.

HB 64: Government Transparency Act of 2021 and HB 776: Remote Notarization/Gov’t Transparency

HB 64: Government Transparency Act of 2021 is expected to be heard for discussion and public comment only in the House Judiciary 2 Committee on Wednesday, September 29 at 11:00 am (live stream). This is the controversial bill that requires local boards of education (as well as counties, municipalities, community colleges, State agencies, etc.) to not only maintain the date and general description of the reasons for each promotion, but also for each demotion, transfer, suspension, separation, or dismissal. An employee can appeal to not have the date and description of their promotion, demotion, etc. disclosed if the information is protected by an applicable confidentiality law, like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or the American with Disabilities Act.

Additionally, this week the contents of HB 64 were added to HB 776: Remote Notarization/Gov’t Transparency through an amendment that passed the Senate 26-14, followed by the Senate’s 27-13 passage of the bill. Both votes were mostly along party lines. HB 776 is another attempt by the Senate to send this government transparency bill language to the House for approval, following the Senate’s complete rewriting of HB 64 in June. The House did not concur on HB 64 back in June, and yesterday, the House did not concur on HB 776. To see conferees for both bills, click HB 64 and HB 776.

According to a news source, Speaker Moore said that a bill sponsor of HB 776 does not want HB 64’s language included in his bill, but that the appropriate method would be for the House to consider HB 64 as its own bill. Additionally, the Speaker stated that while there is not pushback from his chamber about making the government more transparent, he’s heard concerns about the unintended consequences that may come with the availability of more personnel information.

We urge school board members and superintendents to contact House Judiciary 2 Committee Chairs and HB 64 conferees with concerns about the government transparency bill language.

SB 593: Special Education Due Process Hearings

SB 593: Special Education Due Process Hearings (primary sponsors: Senators Brent Jackson, R-Sampson; Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Michael Lee, R-New Hanover) is scheduled to be heard in the House Judiciary 2 Committee on Wednesday, September 29 at 11:00 am (live stream). This bill alters the appeals process for special education due process hearings by eliminating State Hearing Review Officers (SHROs). SHROs currently review, upon the request of a party, the decisions made by administrative law judges. Under SB 593, the step involving SHROs would be eliminated, and any appeals would occur in state or federal court. School attorneys believe that this bill could potentially violate federal regulations, which could put federal funds in jeopardy. SB 593 passed the Senate in May on a 33-16 vote, and the bill’s contents were included in the Senate’s version of the budget. NCSBA is working to improve this bill. Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 91: Accountability and Fair Play in Athletics

HB 91: Accountability and Fair Play in Athletics failed to concur in the House, and a conference committee was appointed. Representative John Bell, R-Wayne, indicated that an agreement on HB 91 had been reached in a meeting this week between a bipartisan group of House and Senate members and representatives of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA), the SBE, and the Governor’s office. He stated that by the House not concurring with the bill, the newly agreed upon language will be added. Details on the agreement were not provided. According to a news source, the Republican authors of the revised bill, as well as Governor Cooper, confirmed that an agreement had been reached on HB 91, but this same support did not come from NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker who stated that the NCHSAA remains opposed to HB 91, and that there are still “many hurdles to clear”.

HB 264: Emergency Powers Accountability Act

Last week we reported that HB 264: Emergency Powers Accountability Act, which transfers emergency powers from the Governor to the Council of State, would be voted on by the House on Thursday. This bill was removed from the House calendar and has not been rescheduled for a floor vote.

 

During a press conference this week, Governor Cooper reported that youth have the highest rates of COVID-19 cases in the State. According to DHHS data, those younger than 17 accounted for one third of new COVID-19 cases during the week of September 12, which is now a three-week trend. Additionally, Governor Cooper called out unruly behavior occurring in schools and at local school board meetings: “Threats, bullying, intimidation – none of this belongs in our public schools, particularly by adults.”

Currently, 109 school districts require masks. Three districts allow masks to be optional, and three have pending mask optional policies (Lincoln is effective on September 29, Pender is effective on October 4, and Harnett is effective on October 5).

NCSBA continues to track local school boards’ policies on school mask requirements as districts vote monthly on whether to modify their current policy (required by Section 10 of SB 654/SL 2021-130). Click here to access a chart of school board actions. If your school district changes its mask policy or you have corrections to the chart, please email information to Richard Bostic at rbostic@ncsba.org.

 

On Monday, DHHS updated its COVID-19 Control Measures in Schools guidance, which can be found here.

 

Eight North Carolina public schools were named 2021 National Blue Ribbon Schools this week. These schools are among the 325 that were nationally recognized for their academic achievement and progress in closing achievement gaps. Click here to access DPI’s press release, which includes a list of the NC schools.

 

Wednesday, September 29

11:00 am – House Judiciary 2 Committee – Legislative Offices Building, rm 423 (live stream)

Additional Education-Related Meeting

The Governor’s Commission on Access to Sound Basic Education will meet virtually on Tuesday, September 28 at 10:00 am. Click here to access meeting information that will be available on Monday, September 27.

 

 

 

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.org

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
rbostic@ncsba.org

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
rhoward@ncsba.org

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – September 24, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – September 17, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – September 17, 2021

This Week at the Legislature

The public business of the General Assembly this week was focused on Redistricting hearings that were held in six cities across the state. The Senate did not meet for a voting session this week and the House held only one voting session. Next week the House will have one voting session on Thursday morning and will take up HB 264, Emergency Powers Accountability Act  (The bill transfers emergency powers from the Governor to the Council of State). The Senate has not announced their plans for next week.

Behind the scenes, the budget conference committee continues to work. Speaker Moore gave a peek into the budget negotiations in an impromptu news conference outside his office on Wednesday. Speaker Moore said that budget conferees had agreed on taxes and a lot of the capital projects. He said there were still differences to resolve on salaries and benefits, federal ARP (American Rescue Plan Act of 2021) funds, policy issues, and State Capital and Infrastructure Fund (SCIF) funds. He believes a draft Conference Report on SB 105 (budget bill) can be sent to the Governor next week for his review. This draft will not be made public. The budget conferees will then negotiate with the Governor and his staff on the changes in the bill. Speaker Moore thinks the budget bill can be finalized in the first or second week in October.

In other news, Rep. Verla Insko (D-Orange) announced this week that she will not seek reelection in 2022. Rep. Insko is serving her 13th two year term in the House. She previously served on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education from 1977 to 1985. We thank her for her service and support of public education.

Education-Related Bills with Action This Week

HB 324: Ensuring Dignity & Nondiscrimination/Schools was vetoed by Governor Cooper on September 13. The Governor’s veto message stated that “The legislature should be focused on supporting teachers, helping students recover lost learning, and investing in our public schools. Instead, this bill pushes calculated, conspiracy-laden politics into public education.” Click here to access the September 3 Legislative Update with NCSBA’s summary of the bill. Click here for an official bill summary. The bill was referred to the Committee On Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House.

SB 593: Special Education Due Process Hearings (primary sponsors: Senators Brent Jackson, R-Sampson; Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Michael Lee, R-New Hanover) was scheduled to be heard in the House Judiciary 2 Committee on Wednesday, September 15, but the meeting was canceled. The meeting has not yet been rescheduled. NCSBA has stressed to legislators that SB 593 will not bring about any significant reduction in time nor costs in these special education cases.  NCSBA continues to work to improve this bill.

 

When SB 654 was signed into law (S.L. 2021-130) by Governor Cooper on August 30, many school boards may not have known about Section 10. Not only does Section 10 require all public school units to adopt a policy on the use of face coverings by employees and students for the 2021-2022 school year, but it requires the “governing body of the public school unit shall vote at least once a month on whether the face covering policy should be modified”. This bill has set off a monthly round of public hearings across the state that have become unruly in some cases.

When asked on Wednesday if the monthly meeting requirement was a good idea given recent protests, Speaker Moore responded “I believe it is a good idea to make sure that that process is done on a monthly basis. It allows parents, teachers, everyone else to really have transparency to see what’s happening and of course we left it up to those school boards to take whatever action they deem appropriate.”

Most of the school boards that met this week voted to continue their mandate for face masks/coverings. However, the Boards of Education in Harnett and Lincoln counties voted to return to optional masks in school. There are now 110 districts with mandated masks, 3 with optional masks, and 2 with optional masks pending (Harnett – effective October 5 and Lincoln – effective September 29).

NCSBA continues to track local school boards’ policies/resolutions on school mask requirements. Click here to access a chart of school board actions. If your school district changes its mask policy or you have corrections to the chart, please email information to Richard Bostic at rbostic@ncsba.org.

 

Local School Board Quarantine Policies & DHHS Response

When debating school mask rules during recent school board meetings, three boards voted this week on quarantine rules.

  • At their Sept. 13 meeting, the Union County Board of Education voted to halt all staff responsibilities regarding contact tracing and quarantining for students and staff, except as required by law. All students and staff who do not have a positive COVID-19 test or symptoms, should return to school or work immediately. The Board stated that the statutory authority of managing contact tracing and quarantining is that of Union County Public Health.
  • On September 13, the Cabarrus County Board of Education voted that the district will not contact trace unless two cases come from a single classroom, bus or athletic team.
  • On September 14, the Lincoln County Board of Education voted that Lincoln County students and staff will now no longer have to quarantine unless they are positive for COVID-19, symptomatic, or have a quarantine order from the health department.

On September 15, Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, asked the Union County Board of Education to rescind their motion on contact tracing and quarantine. Secretary Cohen urged the Union County Public Schools “to adopt all of the recommendations in the Toolkit and, at the very least, to reimpose the requirements to cooperate with local public health officials in identifying individuals exposed to COVID-19 as well as exclude students subject to isolation and quarantine measures described in the Toolkit no later 5:00 pm Friday, September 17, 2021. If Union County Board of Education does not take such steps by September 17th, legal action may be required to protect the public’s health.” (Click here for letter)

 

On September 13, the U.S. Department of Education approved our State’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III (ESSER III) plan. As a reminder, NC has received two-thirds of its $3.6 billion in ESSER III funds, with the last third being subject to federal approval of a state application. North Carolina is now one of 17 states that have received federal approval of their plans. (Click here for the press release.)

Districts and schools receive 90 percent of the state’s total $3.6 billion ESSER III allocation, based on the same proportions used for allocating federal Title I funds keyed to census poverty estimates. The remaining 10 percent of the funds will support statewide initiatives to help schools and students recover from pandemic-related disruptions and to also improve long term student outcomes.

 

Operation Polaris

On Wednesday, September 15, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt released details of her strategic vision, called Operation Polaris, aimed at achieving gains for public education in the state (Click here for press release). Superintendent Truitt’s plan “outlines a coordinated effort to better mobilize the agency’s resources and expertise in response both to immediate needs resulting from the pandemic and lasting efforts to improve student outcomes long term.” Click here for details on Operation Polaris.

 

No education-related meetings were posted by Friday at noon.

 

 

 

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.org

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
rbostic@ncsba.org

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
rhoward@ncsba.org

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – September 17, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – September 10, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – September 10, 2021

 

Budget Negotiations

So far, both legislative leaders have spoken about agreements being reached on large money items. According to a news source, Senate leader Phil Berger said, “I think we will know hopefully by the end of this month whether or not we’re going to be able to have a traditional budget passed by the General Assembly and either signed by the governor or veto overridden.” Additionally, he stated that by the end of 2021 there will either be a budget enacted or the legislature will be in “mini budget territory.”

Education-Related Bills with Action This Week

Statewide Bills

HB 324: Ensuring Dignity & Nondiscrimination/Schools continues to sit on the governor’s desk, pending either a signature, veto, or three more days of inaction by the governor for it to automatically become law. The controversial bill is not expected to be signed by Governor Cooper. Click here to access last week’s Legislative Update with NCSBA’s summary of the bill. Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 91: Accountability and Fair Play in Athletics passed the Senate 28-14 on third (final) reading, was sent back to the House for concurrence, and is now awaiting a hearing in the House Education K-12 Committee. The bill requires the State Board of Education (SBE) to either enter into a memorandum of understanding with a nonprofit to administer high school interscholastic athletics (which could be the NC High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) but is not required to be) or assign administration to DPI. Authors of the revised bill (Senators Vickie Sawyer, R-Iredell; Todd Johnson, R-Union; and Tom McInnis, R-Richmond) say that HB 91 is a result of an ongoing investigation into the NCHSAA over the past 22 months concerning lack of transparency. HB 91 is unanimously supported by Senate Republicans and opposed by the NCHSAA and a majority of Democratic Senators, with one out of 22 voting to approve the bill on third reading. Click here for an official bill summary.

Local Bill

HB 3: Craven Bd of Ed/Partisan Electoral Districts (primary sponsor: Representative Keith Kidwell, R-Beaufort) was ratified into SL 2021-140. This bill changes the method of election for the Craven County Board of Education from nonpartisan to partisan and requires Board members to be elected from districts. Click here for an official bill summary.

Education-Related Bill with Action Next Week

SB 593: Special Education Due Process Hearings (primary sponsors: Senators Brent Jackson, R-Sampson; Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Michael Lee, R-New Hanover) is scheduled to be heard in the House Judiciary 2 Committee on Wednesday, September 15, at 12:00 pm (click here for live stream). This bill alters the appeals process for special education due process hearings by eliminating State Hearing Review Officers (SHROs). SHROs currently review, upon the request of a party, the decisions made by administrative law judges. Under SB 593, the step involving SHROs would be eliminated, and any appeals would occur in state or federal court. School attorneys believe that this bill could potentially violate federal regulations, which could put federal funds in jeopardy. SB 593 passed the Senate in May on a 33-16 vote, and the bill’s contents were included in the Senate’s version of the budget. NCSBA is working to improve this bill. Click here for an official bill summary.

 

NCSBA has created a chart tracking local school boards’ policies/resolutions on school mask requirements. Click here to access the chart.

The number of school districts with mask mandates continues to increase, with currently 112 out of 115 requiring masks. As your school district finalizes its mask policy, please email information to Richard Bostic at rbostic@ncsba.org, as well as any corrections to the chart.

 

During a Leandro hearing on Wednesday, Superior Court Judge David Lee said that if the General Assembly and the governor do not fully fund the Leandro Comprehensive Remedial Plan by mid-October, he will take direct action. The Plan was submitted by the State Board of Education (SBE) and DPI earlier this year, followed by a June 2021 court order calling for implementation of the Plan. The hearing on Wednesday was the first progress report on the Plan, and another hearing will be held on October 18. According to a news source, if the mid-October deadline is not met, Judge Lee will explore his judicial powers to enforce the Plan’s implementation.

Legislative leaders continue to criticize the enforcement of the Plan because of the constitutional separation of powers and the lack of consultation with the legislature before approving the Plan. This week’s hearing comes after the release of each chamber’s budget proposal. According to a news source, the Senate budget proposal includes about 28% of the funding needed to implement the Plan in the 2021-2022 fiscal year, and the House budget proposal includes about 20%. Additionally, the State’s progress report says that the governor’s proposed budget covers the Plan’s implementation costs for the second and third year.

  • Click here for the State’s progress report to the court
  • Click here for the SBE’s report to the court
  • Click here for the plaintiff’s response in the court
  • Click here and here for articles on the hearing and background on the Leandro case

 

On Tuesday, DHHS released a report that shows 125 ongoing COVID-19 clusters in K-12 school settings. This is up from the 72 clusters reported last Tuesday, August 31. In a K-12 school setting, a cluster is defined as “a minimum of five positive cases identified through a positive molecular (PCR) or positive antigen test result with illness onsets or initial positive results within a 14-day period and plausible epidemiologic linkage between cases.” Click here for an article on the report.

 

Wednesday, September 15

12:00 pm – House Judiciary 2 Committee – Legislative Offices Building, rm 415 (live stream)

 

 

 

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.org

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
rbostic@ncsba.org

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
rhoward@ncsba.org

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – September 10, 2021
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