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:




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