NCSBA Legislative Update – September 15, 2023

The heat wave has finally broken, but tempers continue to flare within the General Assembly as North Carolina finds itself more than two months overdue in passing a state budget.

Although legislative leaders planned for budget votes this week, no action was taken. At the heart of this delay lies the divisive issue of legalizing brick-and-mortar casinos in four economically challenged counties. The Senate sees the potential revenue from legalized casinos as the funding source to pay for their tax cuts which were deeper than what the House proposed. As such, President Pro-Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) supports incorporating this targeted casino legalization into the budget; however, House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) contends there aren’t sufficient Republican votes within his chamber to pass a budget inclusive of casino legalization.

This week, the House Republican Caucus met for nearly four hours discussing the casino provisions behind closed doors but could not get a majority of its members on board. Nevertheless, both chambers are set to convene in the coming week. Amidst the fiery debates between the two chambers over the casino issue, some legislative activity did manage to take place during the week.

Education Bills Passed By The Senate

HB 432: Principal Licensure Changes (primary sponsors: Representatives David Willis, R-Union; Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke; Tricia Cotham, D-Mecklenburg; John Torbett, R-Gaston)

  • Passed Senate by a 47-0 vote, sent back to House for concurrence
  • Updates principal licensure requirements
  • Eliminates the requirement that principals must have at least four years of classroom teaching experience and instead requires principals to have at least four years of experience as a “licensed professional educator”
  • Requires the Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission to develop a portfolio-based assessment for prospective principals
  • Requires an internship of at least 500 hours rather than a yearlong internship

Local Conference Committee Reports With Votes

HB 5: Local Omnibus Changes

  • Bill previously titled Fuquay-Varina/Clemmons Deannexations
  • Section 15 of new bill impacts Buncombe County and Asheville City school districts
    • Changes effective dates for establishing new electoral districts for Buncombe County Board of Education as outlined in HB 66/S.L. 2023-72.
      • The old date was February 1, 2024 and the new date is June 30, 2024
    • Authorizes the Buncombe County Board of Education and the Asheville City Board of Education to jointly study the feasibility of a merger between those two boards
  • Passed second reading in the Senate by a 34-10 vote, final vote calendared for Tuesday September 19, with a final House vote expected the same day

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

September 11, 2023 Headlines From the Weekly Report Include

Congress Has Yet To Pass A Budget As Shutdown Deadline Approaches: Both chambers of Congress are back from their August recess. The Senate Appropriations Committee passed all 12 of its spending bills before the recess with bipartisan support. The House has only approved one FY 2024 spending bill on the floor—the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs package—and only a handful have won approval from the full committee. The spending bills must be passed by both chambers before the start of the new federal fiscal year on October 1 – something that is looking increasingly unlikely.

Education Department Has New Kindergarten Initiative: The U.S. Department of Education has launched the Kindergarten Sturdy Bridge Learning Community, “a multi-state effort to make kindergarten a transformational experience at the start of each student’s formal education journey,” the press release states. The department will invite state education agencies and local education agencies to participate in a “community of practice” where they can learn from their peers, receive technical assistance, and share best practices to enhance the kindergarten experience including the transitions into kindergarten and 1st  grade.

The following are recent news articles, reports, and press releases on state and national education-related issues.

State News

News & Observer: NC Teachers and Workers Are ‘Mad and Frustrated’ As GOP Casino Fight Delays Raises
WUNC: As State Budget Negotiations Stall, Understaffed Schools Await Funding
WUNC: Casino Disagreement Leaves NC Without Budget As Republicans Trade Barbs
WRAL: Democrats Slam Republicans Over Proposed Casinos and Budget Delay
WRAL: Budget Talks At An Impasse: What Happens Next
News & Observer: NC Schools Have More Than 3,500 Teaching Vacancies. How Can The State Get More Teachers?
WFDD: Guilford County Board of Education Hires Legal Counsel To Handle Dispute Over District 3 Seat
WFAE: Can Joy Help Boost Test Scores? CMS Leaders Say Yes
WFAE: CMS Board Considers New Goals For Reading, Math, Graduating With a Plan
WUNC: Republican Lawmakers in NC Tap Breaks On Confidential Voting Records Bill
WRAL: NC Republicans Delay Vote On Key Election Bill
Carolina Journal: NC Pre-K Centers To Gain $8 Million From Government Programs
EdNC: Mental Health, School Safety and More: Student Insights At the Start Of A New Year
Best NC: Study On Teacher Pay In North Carolina

National News

K-12 Dive: Public Engagement Is A Rising Priority In School Communications
Education Week: Older Students Running Out of Time For Academic Recovery
Washington Post: A Program To Cut School Suspensions In Chicago Worked Very, Very Well. Here’s How

There are no education-related committee meetings scheduled at this time.
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 – September 15, 2023