NCSBA Legislative Update – June 17, 2022

 

Budget Update

House and Senate leaders said that they plan to wrap up negotiations on the budget by next week, with votes expected sometime in the next two weeks. Once a budget agreement is met, House and Senate budget leaders plan to include Governor Roy Cooper in negotiations before publicly releasing the budget. When the budget is released, it will be in a conference report, which means that it cannot be amended. As we mentioned last week, we expect the budget to include pay increases and funding for school safety and capital projects.

Statewide Education Bills with Action This Week

SB 671: Virtual Educ./Remote Acad./Virtual Charters (sponsored by Representative Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes) failed to concur in the Senate after passing the House on a 73-22 vote last week. The Senate members of the conference committee have been appointed: Senators Michael Lee, R-New Hanover; Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; and Don Davis, D-Pitt. SB 671 contains virtual/remote instruction provisions, including, for the 2022-2023 school year,

  • Allows public school units (PSUs) to continue providing remote instruction for severe weather and other emergencies
  • Allows PSUs that were assigned a separate school code by May 1, 2021, to continue providing virtual instruction
  • Allows PSUs that submitted a virtual instruction plan to DPI for the 2021-2022 school year to continue providing virtual instruction according to that plan

The bill also creates a new type of remote academy for all PSUs, beginning with the 2023-2024 school year. For more information on SB 671, click here to access last week’s legislative update. Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 79: Clarify HS Insurance (sponsored by Senator Vicky Sawyer, R-Iredell) passed the Senate 45-0 and has been referred to the House Rules Committee prior to going to the House floor for a concurrence vote. HB 79 clarifies that PSUs must purchase catastrophic insurance for high school athletics and that PSUs have the option (instead of the requirement) to purchase this catastrophic insurance from the Commissioner of Insurance. It also requires the Commissioner of Insurance to offer accident insurance to PSUs. Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 159: Education Law Changes (sponsored by Senator Michael Lee, R-New Hanover) passed the Senate 45-0 and has been referred to the House Rules Committee prior to going to the House floor for a concurrence vote. HB 159 makes various “technical” changes to education laws, including extending the principal licensure waiver from August 31, 2022, to August 31, 2024. This extension was a request of DPI based on a 2021 session law that provided the waiver for certain individuals in the process of becoming a licensed principal and exempted principals granted a license for any school year from 2010-2011 to 2020-2021 from certain statutory licensure requirements. Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 169: State Health Plan Data Transparency.-AB (primary sponsors: Representatives Edward Goodwin, R-Chowan; Larry Potts, R-Davidson; Terence Everitt, D-Wake; Allison Dahle, D-Wake) passed the Senate 42-0 and has been sent back to the House for a concurrence vote. HB 169 allows the State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees to access and utilize its own claims payment data while continuing to protect the confidentiality of the information. Click here for an official bill summary.

SB 265: Bond Information Transparency (primary sponsors: Senators Todd Johnson, R-Union; Carl Ford, R-Rowan) was modified and approved by the House Local Government Committee and has been referred to the House Finance Committee. SB 265 requires local governments to provide additional disclosures regarding bond referenda and requires more monitoring and oversight of local governments’ financial operations. Click here for an official bill summary.

Local Education Bills with Action This Week

HB 993: School Calendar Flexibility/Stanly County (primary sponsor: Representative Wayne Sasser, R-Stanly) passed the House 97-3 and has been sent to the Senate. HB 993 would allow the opening date for Stanly County Schools to be no later than the Monday closest to August 15 (instead of the Monday closest to August 26).

HB 1162: Make Catawba Board of Ed. Elections Partisan (primary sponsors: Representatives Jay Adams, R-Catawba; Mitchell Setzer, R-Catawba) passed the House 63-40 and has been sent to the Senate. HB 1162 changes the elections of the Catawba County Board of Education, Newton-Conover City Board of Education, and Hickory Public Schools Board of Education from nonpartisan to partisan.

Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations, Subcommittee on Interscholastic Athletics

The Subcommittee held a meeting on Thursday with State Board of Education Chair Eric Davis, Vice Chair Alan Duncan, and General Counsel Allison Schafer. Legislators asked various questions about the recently approved memorandums of understanding (MOU) for high school interscholastic athletics with the NC High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) and the Carolina Athletic Association for Schools of Choice (CAASC). The MOUs are required under HB 91: Accountability and Fair Play in Athletics/SL 2021-184, which was a result of an investigation into the NCHSAA over the past few years concerning lack of transparency and accountability. They are effective July 1, 2022, and have four-year terms.

Some legislators continued to express concerns regarding NCHSAA’s financial transparency, as well as transparency around meetings of the NCHSAA. Since NCHSAA does not have to abide by the State’s open meetings law, legislators are worried that there will be continued lack of accountability to the public. Chair Davis assured legislators that the State Board will make sure that NCHSAA’s meetings are conducted in an open fashion, and if not, request additional legislation, if necessary. Click here to access all meeting materials, including the NCHSAA and CAASC MOUs, and click here for an article on the meeting.

 

The deadline to file bills was weeks ago, but there were still two more education bills filed this week.

Statewide Bill

HB 1173: Elect SBE Members/Super as Chair of SBE (primary sponsors: Representatives Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke; John Torbett, R-Gaston; Jon Hardister, R-Guilford; Lee Zachary, R-Yadkin) is a constitutional amendment that would require the election of State Board of Education (SBE) members and make the Superintendent of Public Instruction the chair of the SBE.

Local Bill

HB 1169: Elect Thomasville City Schools Board Members (primary sponsor: Representative Sam Watford, R-Davidson)

NCSBA Bill Tracking Chart

Click here for a list of education bills that NCSBA is tracking for this legislative biennium.

 

Following a school nutrition update during the State Board of Education’s (SBE) meeting on June 2, State Superintendent Catherine Truitt and SBE Chair Eric Davis sent the State’s U.S. senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, letters urging them to support federal legislation that would extend school nutrition waivers through September 2023. These waivers, which expire on June 30, 2022, have allowed free meals to be have provided to all children during the COVID-19 pandemic and provided increased reimbursement for school meals.

During the June SBE meeting, DPI’s Director of School Nutrition Services, Dr. Lynn Harvey, explained that local education leaders are bracing for increased food, supply, fuel, and labor costs when these waivers expire. Additional repercussions include a return to stigma experienced by children who receive free or reduced-price meals and an increase in students who are hungry.

The letters sent to Burr and Tillis explain, “The loss of these waivers will devastate school meal programs and threaten their sustainability. School meals will be jeopardized for thousands of North Carolina students who depend upon them as their primary source of food during the week.” Click here for an article on the letters.

 

Following the submission of roughly 3,500 applications for State Superintendent Catherine Truitt’s Parent Advisory Commission, the names of the 48 Commission members have been released. “This Commission is focused on giving parents a seat at the table and strengthening parent and family involvement in education,” Truitt said. “This commission is a consistent and routine way to ensure we are addressing challenges and improving outcomes for all of North Carolina’s students using feedback from those who know students best.

The Commission consists of six parents/guardians from each of the State’s eight education regions:

  • Two traditional public schools
  • One charter public school
  • One homeschool
  • One private school
  • One at-large public-school member from the largest county in each region, including: Buncombe, Catawba, Cumberland, Guilford, Mecklenburg, New Hanover, Pitt, and Wake

Click here for DPI’s press release, which includes the list of members by region and school type, and click here for an article, which includes State Board of Education discussion about the Commission.

 

 

 

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

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

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – June 17, 2022