NCSBA Legislative Update – February 26, 2021

 

Summer Learning Bill

HB 82: Summer Learning Choice for NC Families (primary sponsors: Representatives Tim Moore, R-Cleveland; Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes; John Torbett, R-Gaston; Jeff Zenger, R-Forsyth) unanimously passed the House on Wednesday after being approved by three House committees within four hours on Tuesday. The bill mandates that each LEA provide a voluntary summer learning program for at-risk students (allows for additional students to participate within space available). There have been numerous changes to HB 82 since it was first filed, including:

  • Temporary contracts for all school personnel hired under this program expire on August 1, 2021
  • Instead of a 6-week summer program, districts must now provide instruction for at least 150 hours or 30 days
  • Requires LEAs to report student academic performance in the program to DPI by September 1, 2021 (DPI will report to the legislature)
  • Strikes language that would have allowed LEAs to charge a fee for students who participate in the program but are not enrolled in the LEA (enrolling those students is optional)
  • Requires that time be built into the day for teachers to provide individual or small group instruction to at-risk students
  • Requires schools to provide in-person social and emotional learning supports for students
  • Expresses intent to use federal COVID-19 funds directed to DPI for the program

In addition to the above modifications, HB 82 does the following:

  • Clarifies that the program will be funded by the LEA’s existing funds, including the recently appropriated federal COVID-19 funds, fiscal year 2020-2021 reading camp funds, and at-risk funds
  • Requires each LEA to submit a plan for its program to DPI no later than 30 days prior to the last instructional day of the 2020-2021 school year, and the plans must include:
    1. Meal service each day
    2. A physical activity period each day
    3. Grade level course offerings
    4. Transportation in accordance with Plan A
    5. Voluntary student participation (kindergarten students participating in the program are exempt from retention for the 2021-2022 school year and all other at-risk students who participate in the program will receive a reassessment of promotion eligibility for the 2021-2022 school year)
    6. Outreach to increase program participation
  • Allows retired teachers (retired by March 1) to be hired after one month separation (normally six months)
  • Removes K-3 class size limits for the program
  • Directs the SBE to require LEAs to implement innovative benchmark assessments in certain grades and core subjects beginning with the 2021-2022 school year

NCSBA believes that HB 82 will pose problems for year-round schools. If there are year-round schools in your district, please contact Bruce Mildwurf, NCSBA Director of Governmental Relations, at bmildwurf@ncsba.org. There is an effort to get HB 82 passed out of the legislature as soon as possible, so please do not delay.

 

Reopening Schools Bill

SB 37: In-Person Learning Choice for Families (primary sponsors: Senators Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Michael Lee, R-New Hanover; Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell) continues to sit on Governor Cooper’s desk with only one day left for him to sign, veto, or let the bill become law. At this week’s press conference, the Governor did not say what he plans to do with SB 37, only that he would sign a bill that follows DHHS guidance and protects State and local emergency authority. Based on last week’s vote counts (31-16 in the Senate and 77-42 in the House), it appears that both chambers have the numbers for a veto override. As a reminder, SB 37 does the following:

  • Requires local school boards to provide:
    • An in-person Plan A option for ALL students who have an IEP or a 504 Plan
    • An in-person Plan A or Plan B option for all other students in grades K-12 (boards may opt for all Plan A, all Plan B, or a combination thereof)
    • A remote option for families that wish to have this option
  • Requires that reasonable work accommodations be provided for certain classroom teachers in accordance with the StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit
  • Requires that the bill be implemented on the first workday that occurs 15 days after becoming law

 

Budget Process

On March 10, the Governor’s Budget will be presented to the Joint Appropriations Committee.

The Joint Education Appropriations Committee kicked off the budget process on Tuesday February 23 with a budget overview by legislative staff. They will meet three mornings each week until March 25. The joint committee will disband on March 30, and the Senate Appropriations Committee on Education/Higher Education will begin deliberations to craft a Senate education budget. No further dates were provided for the budget process. Budget targets have not yet been announced for the subcommittees.

 

Athletics and Graduation Attendance Bills

Since last week, five local and statewide bills have been filed that would increase access to high school sports events: HB 118, HB 128, HB 129, SB 115, and SB 116. Some bills would allow up to 50% occupancy at sport facilities, and all require compliance with the StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit. Additionally, SB 124 would allow up to 50% occupancy at outdoor high school graduations. Following the filing of these bills, Governor Cooper announced the easing of some COVID-19 restrictions, including allowing a 30% capacity limit (not exceeding 250 people indoors) at sports arenas and fields. Bill sponsors of SB 116, which allows a 40% capacity limit at outdoor facilities, say that the Governor’s actions do not go far enough, and they will continue to push for their bill. Click here for more from legislators and the Governor.

 

Bills in the Spotlight

HB 152: Modify School Performance Grades (primary sponsors: Representatives Dennis Riddell, R-Alamance; Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes; Ashton Clemmons, D-Guilford; Erin Paré, R-Wake)

This bill modifies school performance grades by creating two separate grades, one for school achievement and one for school growth. Despite the separate grades, the calculation of school performance remains the same: 80% school achievement, 20% school growth. Additionally, only school achievement grades (was overall school performance) are used to define low-performing schools and to identify schools that qualify for the Innovative School District (ISD).

SB 152: Access to Sports/Extracurr. for All Students (primary sponsors: Senators Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell; Warren Daniel, R-Burke; Norman Sanderson, R-Carteret)

This bill allows students from public, private, or home schools that do not offer a specific sport or extracurricular activity to participate in that sport or activity at the public high school closest to the student’s school.

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

This bill passed through the Senate on Thursday and was sent to the House. It clarifies that a registered sex offender is prohibited from knowingly residing within 1,000 feet of any property line on which a public or nonpublic school or childcare center is located.

 

Local Bill Filing Deadline

The deadline to submit a proposed local bill to legislative staff in the Senate was yesterday, and the deadline in the House is next Wednesday, March 3. If a proposed local bill was /is submitted prior to the deadline, a legislator must file the local bill by:

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

 

Bill Chart

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

 

This week the U.S. Department of Education confirmed that federally mandated standardized tests will be required for this school year, but the following flexibility is available:

  • Extending the testing window or delaying tests
  • Providing tests remotely
  • Shortening tests

States can also submit waiver requests for accountability measures, which was an action taken by the SBE in their monthly January meeting. Click here to read more.

 

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

Statewide Bills

Local Bills

 

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 created issue briefs on each agenda item. Click here to access a webpage with links to each issue brief.

 

Tuesday, March 2

10:00 am – House Health Committee – Legislative Offices Building, rm 643 (live stream)

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

Joint House and Senate Education Appropriations Committees will meet on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 8:30 am

 

 

 

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 – February 26, 2021