NCSBA Legislative Update – May 5, 2023

A new version of HB 219: Charter School Omnibus, passed the House this week.  The bill in its current form does NOT include Part VII of the original bill that threatened to transfer millions of dollars each year from local school districts to charter schools.  Part III, which allowed charter schools to adopt micro school programs was also removed.  In addition, Part V was rewritten, and a new Part VIII was added which impacts classifications for charter schools and nonpublic schools in high school athletics.  Part VI, which allows County Commissioners to provide capital funding to charter schools remains in the bill.  HB 219 was sent to the Senate following a 75-42 vote.  Click here for an official bill summary. Click here to compare version 1 and click here to compare version 3.

Football coaches are fond of saying “we have to compete for all four quarters.” It’s no different when you’re competing at the NC General Assembly.  All of us scored this week in the battle to protect funding for students in traditional public schools and we feel good going into the half, but there is still plenty of time left on the clock for that bad language to pop up somewhere else.  That’s why we can’t lose our focus. Goooooooooo Team!

The General Assembly churned through legislation this week as the crossover deadline – the date by which legislation must pass through one chamber to stay eligible for consideration – drew to a close on Thursday. Bills that have an appropriation of state funds attached are not subject to the crossover deadline. In typical crossover fashion, numerous committees met simultaneously, several daily sessions took place, and countless caucus meetings were held.

Voucher Bill Passes House Education Committee
HB 823: Choose Your School, Choose Your Future, a bill to expand the Opportunity Scholarship Program and a companion bill to SB 406, passed the House Education K-12 Committee on Tuesday. Like the Senate version, HB 823 expands eligibility for Opportunity Scholarships to all families in a tiered system based on income. Just like the debate in the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee, the biggest pushback from Democrats focused on the fact that this program was intended to provide low- and middle-income families an opportunity to attend a private school, and under both bills families with a household income in the millions can now receive a voucher.

A different part of the bill prohibited local boards of education from requiring more credits to graduate high school than what is required by the State Board of Education (currently, 22 credits).The K-12 Education Committee removed this language from the House bill. However, it remains in the Senate version.

Both bills currently reside in their respective Appropriations Committees in each chamber and are not subject to crossover, which means they did not have to pass out of either chamber this week to remain eligible for the rest of the biennium.

Education Bills that Passed the Senate
Statewide Bills
The following bills passed the Senate and were sent to the House.

  • SB 364: Nondiscrimination & Dignity in State Work (primary sponsors: Senators Warren Daniel, R-Burke; Todd Johnson, R-Union; Brad Overcash, R-Gaston)
    • Passed 34-14
    • Amends the State Human Resources Act to prohibit compelled speech when an individual seeks state government employment
    • Demonstrates the General Assembly’s intent that state employees recognize the equality and rights of all persons
    • Prohibits state government workplaces from promoting certain concepts that are contrary to that intent
    • Click here for an official bill summary
  • SB 636: School Athletic Transparency (primary sponsors: Senators Vickie Sawyer, R-Iredell; Todd Johnson, R-Union; Tom McInnis, R-Moore)
    • Passed 30-20
    • Revises oversight of high school interscholastic athletics
      • Prohibits students who do not live in a school district from competing if their enrollment is solely for athletic participation purposes
    • Recodifies and reorganizes current interscholastic athletics statutes
    • Provision removed in committee to prohibit students of male sex from competing in sports designated for females, women, or girls
    • Click here for an official bill summary
  • SB 692: Community College Governance (primary sponsors: Senators Amy Galey, R-Alamance; Todd Johnson, R-Union; Tom McInnis, R-Moore)
    • Removes the authority of a local board of education and the Governor to appoint members of the board of trustees of a local community college
    • Click here for an official bill summary
    • Click here for an article on the bill

Education Bills that Passed the House
Statewide Bills
The following bills passed the House and were sent to the Senate.

  • HB 23: Education Studies and Other Changes (primary sponsors Representatives Hugh Blackwell R-Burke, Tricia Cotham R-Mecklenburg, John Torbett R-Gaston)
    • Passed 117-0
    • Originally this bill required DPI to contract with Gooru, Inc, an educational software company to measure pandemic learning loss
    • Now this bill does the following:
      • Requires DPI to study the costs associated with the education of children who need special care due to disabilities
      • Establishes NC Principal Fellows Commission to administer the fellows program
  • HB 28: NC Managing Environmental Waste Act of 2023 (primary sponsor Representative ‘Harry Warren R-Rowan)
    • Passed 117-1
    • Requires LEAs, community colleges and many other state entities, to the extent economically practicable, purchase and use materials and supplies with compostable or recyclable content in their food establishments
    • Click here for an official bill summary
  • HB 162: Living Donor Protection Act (primary sponsors: Representatives Phil Shepard, R-Onslow; Marcia Morey, D-Durham; Ken Fontenot, R-Wilson; Diane Wheatley, R-Cumberland)
    • Passed 118-0
    • Provides paid leave for State employees, public school employees, and community college employees for organ donation
    • Click here for an official bill summary
  • HB 201:Retirement Administrative Changes Act of 2023 (primary sponsor Representative Carson Smith R-Pender)
    • Passed 117-0
    • Provide that the death benefit of a retiree is paid to the beneficiary, but when there is not a surviving designated beneficiary the death benefit is paid to the deceased retired member’s legal representative.
    • Short-term disability benefits that begin before July 1, 2019, require an employer to notify the Plan before July 1, 2024, of the short-term benefits and the State Health Insurance premiums paid by the employer after the initial six months because the Plan will not reimburse any employer for amounts related to notifications made on or after July 1, 2024.
    • Allows the first retirement benefit payment to be made by direct deposit and applies the same prohibition on changes as is currently in place for checks once they have been cashed.
    • requires the Department of State Treasurer, or the appropriate Board of Trustees, to adopt rules to implement the bill.
    • Click here for an official bill summary
  • HB 487: POW/MIA Flags/State Bldgs & Schools (primary sponsors: Representatives Edward Goodwin, R-Chowan; Michael Wray, D-Northampton; Jarrod Lowery, R-Robeson; Garland Pierce, D-Scotland)
    • Passed 116-0
    • Requires schools and public buildings to fly the POW flag, provided there is space for the flag on an existing flagpole
    • Click here for an official bill summary
  • HB 618: Charter School Review Board (primary sponsors: Representatives Tricia Cotham, R-Mecklenburg; Tim Moore, R-Cleveland; Destin Hall, R-Caldwell; David Willis, R-Union)
    • Passed 75-42
    • Similar to a section in the House Budget
    • Converts the Charter Schools Advisory Board to the Charter Schools Review Board
    • Shifts authority to approve and deny charters from the State Board of Education (SBE) to the Review Board and gives the SBE an appellate role
    • Allows only an applicant, charter school, or the State Superintendent to appeal a final decision of the Review Board to grant, renew, revoke, or amend a charter by submitting notice to the Chair of the SBE within 10 days of the Review Board’s decision
    • Requires the SBE to issue a written decision in any matter appealed under this section within 60 days
    • Click here for an official bill summary
  • HB 687: Clarify Vacancy Filling Partisan Bd. of Ed. (primary sponsor: Representative Jon Hardister, R-Guilford)
    • Passed 97-19
    • Clarifies the process to fill a vacancy on a local board of education elected using the partisan method of election
    • Click here for an official bill summary
  • HB 824: Teacher License Reciprocity from Every State (primary sponsors: Representatives Tricia Cotham, R-Mecklenburg; Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes)
    • Passed 117-0
    • Grants a continuing professional license to any teacher licensed in another state with substantially similar licensing requirements, at least three years experience, and is in good standing with the other state
    • For a teacher renewing a limited license, the current employing LEA must submit an affidavit signed by their principal and superintendent stating that the teacher is currently employed, is effective, meets or exceeds growth where such data is available, and encourage the pursuit of a CPL.
    • Click here for an official bill summary

Local Bills
The following bill passed the House and was sent to the Senate.

  • HB 262: School Assignment Zones (primary sponsors: Representatives Phil Shepard, R-Onslow; George Cleveland, R-Onslow; Carson Smith, R-Pender)
    • Passed on a voice vote
    • Requires student assignment zones that allow students the opportunity to attend the schools closest to their residence in Onslow County Schools
    • Click here for an official bill summary

Education Bills Approved by House Committees

HB 799: Local Government Audits (primary sponsors Representatives Matthew Winslow R-Franklin, Howard Penny R-Harnett, Jeff Zenger R-Forsyth) 

  • Approved by the House Local Government Committee
  • Requires that annual audits of units of local government and local school administrative units be conducted by a CPA or an accountant certified by the Local Government Commission
  • Auditors are selected by a sealed bid process
  • LEAs may reject winning bid once unsealed
  • Auditor selection limited to three criteria – cost, expertise, time for completion
  • Appropriates funds to the Council of State Governments to assist local governments with financial record keeping
  • Click here for an official bill summary

HB 780 NC Special ID Card for High School Students (primary sponsors Representatives Laura Budd D-Mecklenburg, John Torbett R-Gaston, Ray Pickett R-Watauga)

  • Approved by the House State Government Committee
  • Establishes a pilot program to issue Real ID compliant special identification cards to students in public high schools in Anson, Gaston, Mecklenburg, and Union counties
  • This bill was not taken up on the House floor and is technically no longer eligible this biennium because it did not pass one of the chambers before the crossover deadline.
  • Click here for an official bill summary
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the State Board of Education (SBE) met for its biannual planning and work session, and on Thursday, the SBE held its monthly meeting.

During the monthly meeting, Board members were presented with the following:

Draft rules for interscholastic athletic eligibility: The Board was presented with draft rules to adopt concerning gender requirements for high school athletics. Four options were presented: (i) use the current NC High School Athletic Association’s rule, (ii) use the proposed Title IX rule from the Biden administration, (iii) use the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act (HB 574 or SB 631), and (iv) adopt no gender requirements rule. These different options are spelled out (and differentiated in colored text) in the draft rule. It was recommended that the Board may want to take the route of not adopting a rule right now because of pending legislation. Leah Carper, the Board’s teacher advisor, noted the importance of having a statewide rule to protect school and district leaders from being sued. State Superintendent Catherine Truitt agreed with Carper, stating that current federal guidance is contradictory. This agenda item was for discussion this month and will come back before the Board at its June meeting for action.

2022 charter schools annual report: As of December 1, 2022, over 137,500 NC students were enrolled in charter schools. There was a significant increase in charter school demand and enrollment during the pandemic, resulting in a 19% increase in charter school enrollment between 2019 and 2022. According to 2021-22 school year data, 27.2% of charter schools received a school performance grade of A or B, and 62.6% of charter schools met or exceeded growth. Board members requested additional data be presented at next month’s meeting prior to the report being approved by the Board and submitted to the General Assembly. The requested data will compare the percentages of low-performing traditional public schools and charter schools, as well as student subgroup performance data of traditional public schools and charter schools. Click here for the full report.

In addition to these two presentations, the Board received a legislative update and approved an enrollment expansion to NC Virtual Academy, one of the State’s two virtual charter schools. NC Virtual requested to increase its enrollment by 19.6% to 3,100 for the 2023-24 school year, citing its current waitlist of 2,849 and the request’s alignment with its mission. The Board approved this enrollment expansion on a 5-4 vote.

During the planning and work session, Board members were presented with and discussed the following:

Click here to access all planning and work session materials.

The following is the Consortium of State School Boards Association’s (COSSBA) most recent federal education report.

May 1, 2023, Weekly Report
Headlines for this edition include:

  • House Oversight Committee Holds 2nd School Closure Hearing
    • The House Oversight Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic held its second hearing on the consequences of school closures, which included testimony from American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten.
    • During the hearing, Republicans on the Committee accused Weingarten of conspiring with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to keep schools closed longer than necessary.
    • Click here for a recording of the hearing.
The following are recent news articles, reports, and press releases on state and national education-related issues.

National News

State News

Monday, May 15, is “Bring Your Legislator to School Day.” In case you haven’t heard, school board members can also attend to greet and welcome your legislator(s). Confirm with your superintendent that your district is participating and for times/location(s). Click here to read the press release.
On Monday, May 15, from 12  to 1 pm, NCSBA’s Governmental Relations team will host a live webinar to discuss which legislation made the crossover deadline and what we can expect between now and the end of session. This is a free, informational webinar for NCSBA members.

Register in advance for this webinar:

There are no legislative committee meetings next week as both chambers are on a post-crossover break for one week.


Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
NC School Boards Association

Madison Skeens
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
NC School Boards Association

Rob Black
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
NC School Boards Association

Christina DavoileNCSBA Legislative Update – May 5, 2023