NCSBA Legislative Update – April 30, 2021

 

Notable Bills with Action This Week

HB 284: Repeal Right of Actions/Capital Outlay Fund (primary sponsors, which are all former county commissioners: Representatives Larry Potts, R-Davidson; Bobby Hanig, R-Currituck; Ben Moss, R-Richmond; Mark Pless, R-Haywood) was heard in its first committee on Wednesday and failed to be approved on a 5-4 vote. Bruce Mildwurf, NCSBA Director of Governmental Relations, testified in the House State Government Committee against the bill in hopes of saving local school boards’ seat at the school capital negotiation table. As a reminder, HB 284 removes local school boards’ ability to take county commissioners to court if capital funding disputes are not resolved in mediation. House State Government Committee Chairman Representative John Torbett, R-Gaston, stated that though the motion failed, the bill remains on the calendar, which means it could be heard in committee again. We appreciate the efforts of our members who reached out to their representatives expressing opposition to HB 284.

SB 654: K-12 COVID-19 Provisions (primary sponsors: Senators Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Don Davis, D-Pitt; Michael Lee, R-New Hanover) was approved by two committees and is scheduled for a Senate vote on Tuesday, May 4. The original version of the bill did not allow virtual instruction for the 2021-2022 school year other than up to 5 days or 30 hours for severe weather or other emergencies. After NCSBA and other education groups expressed significant concerns, a modified version now provides the following exceptions:

  • LEAs can provide remote instruction to address health and safety concerns related to COVID-19 during the upcoming school year – participation is subject to written consent of the student’s parent or legal guardian
  • LEAs assigned a school code to operate a virtual school by May 1, 2021 may continue to provide virtual school for the upcoming school year
  • The State Superintendent must create a Working Group on Virtual Academies to make recommendations by January 15, 2022

NCSBA and other education groups are seeking further changes to this bill’s virtual instruction section that would simply allow a school to provide virtual instruction for families that want that option. Additionally, SB 654 does the following:

  • Waives school performance grades, report cards, and low-performing school identification for the upcoming school year based on 2020-2021 school year data
  • Continues the principal recruitment supplement for the 2021-2022 school year
  • Allows seniors to graduate in 2021 without completing CRP instruction
  • Extends exam requirements for teachers seeking a continuing professional license from June 30, 2021 to September 30, 2021
  • Adds another definition of a year-round school: allows a single-track school to operate on the same multi-track schedule of another school in that LEA

SB 671: Changes to the K-12 Scholarship Programs (primary sponsors: Senators Michael Lee, R-New Hanover; Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Amy Galey, R-Alamance) was modified and approved by two committees and is scheduled for a Senate vote on Tuesday, May 4. Changes to the bill include:

  • Extends financial eligibility for opportunity scholarships to include foster children
  • Changes the amount paid per voucher from $4,200 to 90% of the average State per pupil allocation for average daily membership (ADM) in the prior fiscal year (average of $5,948 based on 2019-2020 school year data)
    • Previous version of the bill changed the amount to what the State pays per charter school student (average was $6,451 in the 2019-2020 school year)
    • HB 32 (House’s voucher bill) changes the amount to 80% of the average State per pupil allocation (average of $5,287 based on 2019-2020 school year data)

For a more thorough summary of SB 671, click here to access last week’s Legislative Update (under Notable Bills in Committee Next Week).

SB 668: Anti-Pension Spiking Amds & Litig. Moratorium (primary sponsor: Senator Jim Burgin, R-Harnett) was heard in the House Pensions and Retirement Committee for discussion only. This bill does the following:

  • Adds another payment option: 12 years with no early pay-off penalty
  • In certain situations, two or more employers will share the liability
  • Creates a working group consisting of NCSBA and the State Treasurer’s office to develop recommendations to the General Assembly that will reduce pension spiking cases and lawsuits
  • Requires a pause on pension-spiking litigation until June 30, 2022, during which the working group will create its recommendations

HB 486: Replace EOC with National Assessment (primary sponsors: Representatives Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes; John Bell, R-Wayne; Kyle Hall, R-Stokes; John Torbett, R-Gaston) passed the House and was sent to the Senate. This bill replaces high school end-of-course tests (EOCs) with a nationally recognized assessment of high school achievement and college readiness and establishes a new career readiness indicator for school performance grades.

HB 428: Teacher Licensure/Retired Educator Program (primary sponsors: Representatives Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes; Mark Brody, R-Union; Charles Miller, R-Brunswick; Ashton Clemmons, D-Guilford) was modified and approved by the House Pensions Committee and referred to the House Rules Committee. This bill modifies a limited teacher license to be a three-year renewable license (was nonrenewable). The limited license can only be requested by the local school board employing or seeking to employ the individual and can only be used for employment in that LEA. HB 428 also extends and expands the program that allows retired teachers to work in high-need schools, now including principals and other instructional support personnel like psychologists and audiologists.

HB 657: School Safety/Threat Assessment Teams (primary sponsor: Representative John Torbett, R-Gaston) was modified and approved by the House Education K-12 Committee and referred to the House Rules Committee. This bill requires the establishment of threat assessment teams at public school units (PSUs) to evaluate threatening behavior, determine the level of risk, and intervene when deemed necessary to protect students and staff. Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 362: Revise Personal Leave Costs for Teachers  (primary sponsors: Representatives Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes; John Torbett, R-Gaston; Ashton Clemmons, D-Guilford; Rosa Gill, D-Wake) was approved by the House Education K-12 Committee and will be heard in the House State Personnel Committee on Wednesday, May 5 at 11:00 am. This bill drops the requirement that teachers pay out of pocket for a substitute teacher when taking a personal leave day, as long as the teacher provides a reason for the leave. If a teacher does not provide a reason, the teacher will pay the full cost for a substitute teacher, rather than the currently mandated $50 deduction.

School Calendar Flexibility Bills

This week eight local school calendar flexibility bills passed the House and were sent to the Senate:

These eight bills make a total of 12 school calendar bills that have passed the House and are now in the Senate. One of the bills is statewide, and the 11 local bills affect a total of 34 districts. Based on past inaction, these school calendar flexibility bills are not expected to be heard in the Senate.

Notable Bills Filed This Week

HB 729: Charter Schools Omnibus (primary sponsors: Representatives Larry Yarborough, R-Person; Jon Hardister, R-Guilford; John Bradford, R-Mecklenburg; Mark Brody, R-Union) makes the following changes to charter school laws:

  • Allows charter schools to provide a combination of remote and in-person instruction
  • Requires charter schools to only provide demographic information for verification that an enrolled student resides in the LEA
  • Authorizes counties to provide capital funds to charter schools
  • Expresses the General Assembly’s intent to ensure parity in funding of students in charter schools and other PSUs
  • Permits charter school teachers to receive residency licensure

NCSBA expects legislators, on behalf of the charter school community, to add more to this bill that will most likely be extremely hard for LEAs to swallow.

HB 755: Academic Transparency (primary sponsors: Representatives Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke; John Torbett, R-Gaston; Jon Hardister, R-Guilford; Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes) requires PSUs to post to their website a list of instructional materials, activities, and any procedures for approval of those materials. The language of this bill mirrors that of Section 2 in SB 700: Balanced Political Discussion in Classrooms (primary sponsors: Senators Chuck Edwards, R-Henderson; Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth; Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell), with the exception that SB 700 does not apply to charter schools and HB 755 applies to all PSUs.

Gut and Amend Bills in Committee This Week

SB 172: Additional 2021 COVID-19 Response & Relief (primary sponsors: Representatives Brent Jackson, R-Sampson; Kathy Harrington, R-Gaston; Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell) was modified in the Senate Appropriations/Base Budget Committee and referred to the Senate Rules Committee. The new version of this bill appropriates COVID-19 relief funds, including $3.2 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III (ESSER III) funds included in the American Rescue Plan. This is the 90% of ESSER III funds that go directly to PSUs, while the other 10% goes to DPI. 20% of the PSU funds are required to address learning loss, and they expire on September 30, 2024.

HB 240: Criminal Background Checks/Schools (primary sponsor: Representative John Torbett, R-Gaston) was modified and approved by the House Education K-12 Committee and referred to the House Finance Committee. The new version of this bill requires criminal background checks for school personnel who are obtaining, renewing, or reinstating a license. It gives local school boards the authority to determine whether the licensure applicant or the LEA will pay for the background check. It also allows local school boards to conduct periodic background checks of school personnel but the board cannot charge personnel for those checks.

State of the State Address

This week at the legislature began with Governor Roy Cooper delivering his State of the State address to a joint session of the House and Senate on Monday night. The Governor centered his address on building back from the negative impacts of COVID-19. The Governor referenced components of his budget recommendations, and stated that he wants “to see a budget that has three signatures: Speaker Moore’s, Senator Berger’s, and mine.” Among education-related issues, Governor Cooper emphasized the State’s constitutional obligation of providing every student with the opportunity to a sound basic education. Additionally, he called for teacher raises and a school capital bond. Click here for more on the education-related parts of the address.

Bill Chart

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

 

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

Statewide Bills

 

Wednesday, May 5

11:00 am – House State Personnel – 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 – April 30, 2021