NCSBA Legislative Update – January 29, 2021

 

Reopening of Schools

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

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

Bills Filed

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

Attention School Finance Officers

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

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

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

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

Plans for Next Week

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

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

 

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

 

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

Appropriations, Education Committee

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

K-12 Education Committee

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

Appropriations Committee Chairs

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – January 29, 2021