NCSBA Legislative Update – October 6, 2023

The state budget, HB259: 2023 Appropriations Act (S.L. 2023-134) became law without the Governor’s signature on Tuesday. NCSBA has updated our Legislative Session Summary outlining every education-related budget provision and law. This document will be updated as events warrant until the session adjourns.

The NC General Assembly remained paused this week with no votes taken. Legislators are expected to convene next week to consider several veto overrides and potentially other legislative business.

Education Bills Signed Into Law By The  Governor

HB 8: Various Statutory Changes (S.L. 2023-132)  (primary sponsors: Representatives Erin Paré, R-Wake; John Torbett, R-Gaston; Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke; Jon Hardister, R-Guilford)

  • Originally titled Computer Sci Grad Requirement.
  • Makes statutory changes.
  • Requires completion of a computer science course for graduation from high school.
    • Reduces the number of required elective credits to graduate high school by one.
    • Creates exemptions to the requirement for students to complete a computer science course.

HB 142: Protect Our Students Act/Buncombe County Bd of Ed (S.L. 2023-128) (primary sponsors: Representatives John Torbett, R-Gaston; Kristin Baker, R-Cabarrus; Jake Johnson, R-Polk; Keith Kidwell, R-Beaufort)

  • Increases penalties for all sex offenses by school personnel against a student
  • Modifies the definition of a student in cases of sexual crimes by school personnel
  • Increases penalties for failing to report misconduct toward children
  • Requires public school units to show 6th-12 graders age-appropriate videos produced by the Center for Safer Schools which include information on sex abuse.
  • Requires school employees convicted of certain felonies involving a student to forfeit the portion of their state-funded retirement benefits
  • Senate amendments do the following:
    • Moves deadline for Buncombe County Board of Education to establish new electoral districts from February 1, 2024 to June 30, 2024.
    • Instructs the Buncombe County Board of Education and the Asheville City Board of Education to jointly study a merger of their two school systems.

Education Bills That Became Law Without Governor’s Signature
SB 452: DOI & Ins Law Amd/Revise HS Athletics (S.L. 2023-133) (primary sponsors: Senators Todd Johnson, R-Union; David Craven, R-Randolph; Danny Britt, R-Robeson)

  • Previously titled NC Department of Insurance Omnibus (Agency bill)
  • Makes substantive changes and revises oversight of interscholastic athletics with similar language found in SB 636: School Athletics Transparency.
    • Replaces the State Board of Education with the Superintendent of Public Instruction as the entity that enters into the memorandum of understanding with the administering organization (currently the NC High School Athletic Assn.).
    • Expands requirements for the memorandum of understanding.
    • Many of the changes apply beginning with the 2024-25 school year.
  • Click here to read the most recent official bill summary for SB 636, School Athletics Transparency.

Federal Budget Update

Just two days after NCSBA President Darrell Pennell and the Governmental Relations team  wrapped up a series of meetings with various members of the North Carolina Congressional delegation, crisis was averted (for now) as the House and Senate agreed to H.R. 5860, a continuing resolution which will fund the government for 45 additional days past the October 1 deadline. Are those two things a coincidence? We’ll leave that to your judgement!

The two chambers now have until November 17 to agree on a budget, another continuing resolution, or we’ll all be facing a shutdown once again. Here is a list of how the House and Senate members from North Carolina voted on the continuing resolution:

Sen. Thom Tillis                                   YES
Sen. Ted Budd                                     YES
1st District                   Rep. Don Davis                                   YES
2nd District                  Rep. Deborah Ross                             YES
3rd District                   Rep. Greg Murphy                               NO
4th District                   Rep. Valerie Foushee                          YES
5th District                   Rep. Virginia Foxx                               YES
6th District                   Rep. Kathy Manning                            YES
7th District                   Rep. David Rouzer                              YES
8th District                   Rep. Dan Bishop                                  NO
9th District                   Rep. Richard Hudson                          YES
10th District                 Rep. Patrick McHenry                          YES
11th District                 Rep. Chuck Edwards                           YES
12th District                 Rep. Alma Adams                                YES
13th District                 Rep. Wiley Nickel                                YES
14th District                 Rep. Jeff Jackson                                YES

Unfortunately, the chaos on Capitol Hill did not stop with the last minute continuing resolution vote. On Tuesday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) became the first Speaker in history to be voted out of the position. The vote was the result of conflicts within the Republican Caucus, who holds the majority in the House of Representatives.

As a result, there’s a North Carolinian temporarily sitting in the Speaker’s chair. Rep. Patrick McHenry (NC-10) serves in House leadership as the Speaker Pro Tem. Upon the removal of Speaker McCarthy, Rep. McHenry was elevated to Speaker until a new one can be elected. The first round of votes is expected next week.

State Board of Education Meeting
The SBE met Wednesday and Thursday of this week.  The Board approved the following:

  • Policy Amendment Modifying American Rescue Plan Committee Membership and Meetings (ADVS-012)
  • New Policy on Process for Appointment of Interim Superintendents (DSTR-041) and Assistance Teams (DSTR-042) for PSUs
  • Rules Review and Readoption for District and Regional Support
  • New Policy on Appeals Process for Charter Schools Review Board Decisions (CHTR-023)
  • Two Community College Educator Preparation Programs
  • Five Additional Members for Interscholastic Athletics Appeals Board
  • Annual Required Reports To The General Assembly
  • Two Contracts over $500,000

Policy Amendment Modifying American Rescue Plan Committee Membership and Meetings (ADVS-012): The Board revised this policy to decrease the total number of members from 33 to 15 and to reduce the number of meetings from quarterly to as needed.  The rationale is to increase participation and make meetings more productive. See policy amendment here. For a list of committee members see here.

New Policy on Process for Appointment of Interim Superintendents for PSUs (DSTR-041):The Board approved a new policy identifying factors the State Board will consider when determining whether the appointment of an interim superintendent is necessary or appropriate to improve student performance in a district. The policy also includes how the interim superintendent will be employed, how the position will be funded, and the reporting expectations to the SBE. See policy here.

New Policy on Assistance Teams (DSTR-042):The Board approved this policy to support the drafted update to the rule and explain how the assistance teams operate when the agency implements its powers to assign one of these teams in a district. The policy provides more definition as to who will be on assistance teams. See policy here.

Rules Review and Readoption for District and Regional Support: To meet statutory obligations for G.S. 150B-21.3A, the SBE is required to review and readopt rules during the decennial review process.  The Board reviewed and approved rules on the School Improvement Plan Dispute Resolution Process here, Local Board Cooperation with Assistance Teams here, Due Process Protections For Employees of Low Performing Schools Recommended For Dismissal here , and updated the policy on Suspension Of Powers and Duties of School Boards here.

New Policy on Appeals Process for Charter Schools Review Board Decisions:Counsel indicated that this policy responds to legislation that changed the process from one in which the State Board approves charter school applications to one in which it hears appeals from decisions by the Charter School Review Board.  The policy describes the appeals process. See the new policy CHTR-023 here.  

Two Community College Educator Preparation Programs: Based on North Carolina Law and SBE policy TCED-004, an Educator Preparation Program (EPP) must either be nationally accredited or seek approval by the SBE to become an initially authorized EPP.  In June, the SBE approved the framework for establishing an EPP at a local community college. Each local community college must still receive approval from the SBE to operate an EPP program prior to offering and admitting students.  Pitt and Robeson Community Colleges  were approved this month for initial authorization as a North Carolina EPP, bringing the total to 21 such approved programs across the state. These will be residential programs for elementary teachers to obtain licensure but not a degree.
Five Additional Members for Interscholastic Athletics Appeals Board:  The SBE approved five new members to the appeals board to review appeals of final decisions by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) and the Carolina Athletic Association for Schools of Choice (CAA4SC). This brings the total of the appeals board to 10 members; the goal is to have 15. The newly approved members are: : Bobby Guthrie – Former Athletic Director, Wake County Public School System (Retired), Stewart Hobbs – Former Superintendent, Sampson County Schools (Retired), Ronnie Chavis – Former Athletic Director, Public Schools of Robeson County (Retired), Kathy Spencer – Former Superintendent, Onslow County Schools (Retired), and Jim Watson – Former Superintendent, Lincoln County Schools (Retired).

Annual Required Reports to the General Assembly: The Board approved reports on (1) Updated Career and College-Ready Graduate Program outcomes (presentation here and report here), (2) Educational Performance of Children with Disabilities and Implementation of Policies to Improve Outcomes for Students with Disabilities here and report here, (3) Four-Year Cohort Graduation Rate here, (4) Cooperative Purchasing here, (5) Full Time Equivalency of Public School Students here, and (6) Local Board of Education Waivers here.

Two Contracts over $500,000:  The Board approved the Read to Achieve Alternative Assessment Contract for Renaissance STAR Reading which will be optional for districts.  If a district opts in to the service, they will provide a $6.54 per student license. The second contract is the Consolidated K-12 Data Base Facility Information Project Contract with the Amos Group.

The Board also approved several items reviewed at the meeting last month as follows:

  • Changes to 2022-23 Student Test Performance Data
  • Updated Alternative Schools’ Accountability Model Options for 2023-2024
  • Whole Child Committee Recommendations
  • Paid Parental Leave Rule and Policy Amendment (BENF-001)
  • North Carolina Personalized Assessment Tool Evaluations (NCPAT)

Changes to the 2022-23 Student Test Performance Data: This month DPI provided changes to the data it released in September based on updated reporting from PSUs. Data corrections resulting in a status change can be seen here.

Updated Alternative Schools’ Accountability Model Options for 2023-2024:  The Board approved an update from the information last month to add one school changing the total requests for this option from 76 schools to 77 schools. See here.

Whole Child Committee Recommendations:  The Board approved the recommendations heard last month from the members of the committee regarding the need for funding for specialized instructional support personnel and expanding school-based access to Health Services. See presentation from last month here.

Paid Parental Leave Rule and Policy Amendment:  The Board approved more changes to the temporary Rule and the amendment of NC Public School Employees Benefit and Employment policy (BENF-001) to allow teachers to change districts and still be able to take advantage of the paid parental leave benefit.  The policy also now clarifies that the period of time in transition from one job to the next does not count as a break in service. The changes will be effective November 7.  See rule here and policy here.

North Carolina Personalized Assessment Tool Update (NCPAT):  In follow-up to the report at last month’s meeting, DPI shared evaluations of N.C.’s Personalized Assessment Tool. See the evaluations here and here and the presentation here.  

This month, the Board received several reports and discussed proposed changes to policy as follows:

  • State Superintendent’s Report
  • 2022-23 Read to Achieve State Level Summary Report to the GA
  • Update from Charter Schools Review Board (CSRB) and Summary of Application Process
  • Standards Revision Update
  • New SBE Policy: Parents Bill of Rights Appeal (PRNT-001)
  • Policy Amendment: Authority for Local School Boards to Exceed Minimum Graduation Requirements (GRAD-001)
  • Report to the General Assembly Evaluating the Advanced Teaching Roles Program and Compensation Plans
  • Annual Report: The Council on Educational Service for Exceptional Children
  • Annual Report on Low Performing Districts and Schools
  • Report Evaluating Implementation and Impact of ESSER III Funded Supports for Educators in Chronically Low-Performing Schools
  • Policy Amendment To Career Technical Education (CTE)edTPA Cut Score (LICN-003)

State Superintendent’s Report:  See her press release on the budget here.

2022-23 Read to Achieve State Level Summary Report to the GA:  The presenter focused on the need for specific strategies for districts to develop master schedules, maximize resources, and find innovative ways to use subs. Superintendent Truitt says she was not surprised by the district reading camp proficiency report.  DPI is working on a process to present to legislature.  Reggie Keenan confirmed that reading camps cannot be mandatory. Truitt pointed out there has been good attendance and a need to help districts with messaging strategies.  See summary here and full report here.

Update from Charter Schools Review Board (CSRB) and Summary of Application Process:
Ashley Baquero, Executive Director of the NC Office of Charter Schools, presented an overview of the entire process from submission to approval.  She made the following points: (1) Funding only flows once a charter school has made it through the entire application process which usually takes 1 and ½ to 2 years.  (2) The application deadline is the last Friday in April with a $1000 fee to apply.  (3) The application process is now entirely electronic.  (4) There are two types of applications: accelerated to open next year and standard to open in two years. The one accelerated applicant this year was denied last month. (5) Interviews are 60 minutes or 90 minutes if a management company is involved.
The CSRB Chair, Bruce Friend and Vice Chair, John  Eldrige gave the Board a report on the first meeting of the CSRB.  There are 15 applications in this cycle.  Of the new applicants, 2 were denied on first interview, and 3 were invited for a second interview in November or December. They approved and plan to carefully monitor several schools that submitted school improvement plans.  They will review 5 additional new applicants  in 5 weeks.  Two additional applicants are being reviewed for reconsideration of SBE vote.  Wendell Hall confirmed the two schools denied are not allowed to rewrite the application but can apply again in next year’s cycle.  It was further noted that the time frame for appeal to the SBE by the two schools has expired.

Standards Revision Update:  DPI staff provided the monthly progress update on revising standards for K-12 Healthful Living, Arts, Guidance, and World Language. Surveys on World Language standards released September 15 will close on October 16. Arts surveys sent out October 2 will close November 5.  See full report here.

New SBE Policy: Parents Bill of Rights Appeal (PRNT-001): The Board discussed a new policy proposal that will be back for approval next month.  Legal staff developed the policy in response to the Parents’ Bill of Rights Legislation which gives the SBE a role to hear appeals on parental concerns. Wendell Hall believes this policy will be helpful to local boards.  Vice Chair Duncan pointed out and counsel confirmed that there is no enforcement provision in this policy because the law does not provide one.  See proposed new policy here.

Policy Amendment: Authority for Local School Boards to Exceed Minimum Graduation Requirements (GRAD-001): This amendment to SBE policy provides a mechanism for a local board to waive additional local graduation requirements for students requesting to graduate in three years.  Discussion raised questions and concerns about the policy. The superintendent advisor, Don Phipps indicated there is a need for more outreach to make sure families understand the value in the programs beyond the 22 hours. Wendell Hall says clarification is needed so local boards are informed and included in the conversation. Superintendent Truitt says this is just another step that recognizes the nature of school and work is changing.  For more details see policy amendment here.

Report to the General Assembly Evaluating the Advanced Teaching Roles Program and Compensation Plans: Approval was delayed until next month for DPI to provide a cover letter for the report highlighting the limitations on the research and a plan to strengthen data collection results to demonstrate the benefits of and needs for the program. School leaders say this program supports their efforts to recruit teachers. They suggested that to ensure equitable access to ATR, education leaders should think about how ATR might be leveraged in school improvement plans.  See presentation here and report here.

Annual Report: The Council on Educational Service for Exceptional Children: This advisory council to the SBE was established under IDEA and NC General Statutes.  The 24 member board meets quarterly and advises the SBE on unmet needs of children with special needs and the development and implementation of policies related to the coordination of services for students with disabilities.  At its June meeting, the council recommended inviting Family Organizations providing support on the ground to families navigating the education system to come speak to best practices and challenges at least once per year.  It also recommends a survey of other organizations that serve families with disabilities and mental health concerns to discern unmet needs.  See presentation  here and the report here.

Annual Report on Low Performing Districts and Schools: The State Board is required to submit a report to the Joint Education Oversight Committee annually regarding districts and schools identified as low performing, effective improvement planning, and recommending additional legislation to improve student performance and increase local flexibility.  This will be back for discussion next month. See presentation here and the report here.

Report Evaluating Implementation and Impact of ESSER III Funded Supports for Educators in Chronically Low-Performing Schools: In January 2023, the Education Policy Initiative at Carolina (EPIC) was awarded a two-year grant to provide an independent external evaluation of multi-level coaching and professional development supports provided by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction to schools who have been in low-performing status for years. See report here.

Policy Amendment To Career Technical Education (CTE)edTPA  (LICN-003):  The Board discussed amending policy LICN-003 to add a cut score of 33 for Career and Technical Education (CTE) edTPA assessment.  PEPSC unanimously approved this policy amendment on September 14, 2023.  This will go back to PEPSC to recommend the time period needed to prepare for the change.  See summary report here and handbook here.

The following is the Consortium of State School Boards Association’s (COSSBA) most recent federal education report.
October 2, 2023 Headlines From the Weekly Report Include

Education Department Outlines Extension of Pandemic Funding Deadlines: The U.S. Department of Education has outlined procedures schools will use to extend spending deadlines for nearly $130 billion in federal pandemic aid. The department acknowledges that some grantees may require flexibility liquidating remaining Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) and Emergency Assistance to Non-Public School (EANS) funds under ARP that have been properly obligated by the September 30, 2024 deadline. The letter to grantees announces that the general liquidation extension that has been available under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) and Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Acts will be available for ARP.  Click here to read the letter.

Agriculture Department Expands School Meal Program: The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expanding the availability of the Community Eligibility Provision, commonly known as CEP. The program provides a simplified meal service option that allows schools to provide meals at no cost to all students without requiring families to apply for free and reduced-price meals. Instead, school districts receive federal funding based on a formula using existing data from SNAP and other programs, and local or state funds must fill any gap between program costs and federal support. Before this final rule, at least 40% of students had to live in households participating in certain income-based federal assistance programs, in order for a school, group of schools, or school district to be eligible for CEP. This final rule lowers that threshold from 40% to 25%. It is estimated that an additional 3000 school districts will be able to participate as a result. Click here to read a press release on the CEP expansion.

As part of the recently passed state budget, DPI now has $6.3 million for the 2024-2025 school year as an incentive to help districts make up budget shortfalls when implementing the CEP.

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

State News

EdNC: New Statewide Program Aims To Support Development of High Quality Principals
News & Observer: State Board of Education Says It Won’t Hear Appeals On School Book Challenges, Here’s Why
WFAE: State Board of Education Weighs How To Implement the Parents’ Bill of Rights
WRAL: NC School Districts Adjust to Controversial New Parents Bill of Rights Law
Carolina Journal: Leandro Plaintiffs Ask State’s Highest Court To Steer Clear of Latest Dispute
WFAE: School Superintendent Turnover Is Rising. A Leader Aims To ‘Keep Down the Noise’ Amid the Culture Wars
WRAL: Coaches As Teachers Shows Promise In Some NC Schools, Studies Say
WRAL: New State Budget Takes Aim At Hunger In Schools
News & Observer: Teacher Misconduct and Computer Science Graduation Requirement Bills Become NC Law
News & Observer: Change In NC Law Will Give More Teachers Up To 8 Weeks Of Paid Parental Leave
Governor’s Office Press Release: Governor Cooper Signs Seven Bills, Vetoes Two Bills and Lets Three Bills Become Session Law

National News

Education Week: What the Latest Student Test Results Reveal: 5 Things To Know
Education Week: A District Raised All Teacher Salaries, Some By Almost 22k. How It’s Working
K-12 Dive: PowerSchool Finalizes Purchase of SchoolMessenger for $300M
K-12 Dive: Supreme Court Rejects Multiple Public School Cases On First Day of 2023 Term
New York Times: The Great American Teacher Crisis
U.S. Education Department Blog: Online For All: Coalition Mobilizes for Digital Equity during Back-to-School Season

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 – October 6, 2023