NCSBA Legislative Update – November 3, 2023

The North Carolina General Assembly has officially concluded its long legislative session, spanning a remarkable 274 days since it began on January 24th. On October 25th, both the House and Senate jointly passed a resolution, Senate Bill 760, to adjourn the regular session. The House and Senate are set to reconvene on November 29-30, December 20-21, January 17-18, February 14-15, March 13-14, and April 10-11.

While the majority of legislative matters were resolved by early October, the House and Senate reconvened on October 24th and 25th for a final round of votes. During this time, they not only passed new Congressional and legislative district maps but also addressed a few remaining bills to bring their session to a close. Here are the details of those actions:

New Electoral Districts That Have Become Law

SB757/S.L.2023-145: Realign Congressional Districts (primary sponsors: Senators Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell; Warren Daniel, R-Burke; Paul Newton R-Cabarrus)
Passed House by 64-40 vote, Passed Senate by 28-18 vote
For a map of the new Congressional districts, click here.

SB758/S.L. 2023-146: Realign NC Senate Districts (primary sponsors: Senators Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell; Warren Daniel, R-Burke; Paul Newton R-Cabarrus)
Passed House by 63-40 vote, Passed Senate by 28-18 vote
For a map of the new NC Senate districts, click here.

HB898/S.L. 2023-149: House Redistricting Plan 2023/H898 Ed 2 (primary sponsors: Representatives Destin Hall, R-Caldwell, Sarah Stevens, R-Surry; Jason Saine, R-Lincoln)
Passed House by 62-44 vote, Passed Senate by 27-17 vote
For a map of the new NC House districts, click here.

Local Bills That Have Become Law

SB 68/S.L. 2023-143: Various Local Changes (primary sponsor: Senator Tim Moffitt, R-Henderson)

  • Passed House by 94-4 vote, Passed Senate by 45-0 vote
  • Includes a provision that outlines new boundaries for the Whiteville City Schools Administrative Unit
  • Language added to change Johnston County Board of Education elections to seven residency districts voted on by all eligible voters in the county

Bills Passed by the House

SB508: Budget Tech/Other Corrections
Passed House by 86-15 vote, Sent to Senate

  • Section 2.2: Delays the rulemaking deadline for early graduation requirements to February 15, 2024 from November 1, 2023 – as previously established in HB 259, Appropriations Act (SL 2023-134).
  • Section 2.4(a): Clarifies that the criteria for a qualifying teaching fellow for loan forgiveness also includes someone serving as a teacher in a qualifying licensure area.
  • Section 2.9: Modifies timelines for the Plasma Games Grant program – as previously established in HB 259, 2023 Appropriations Act (SL 2023-134).
  • Section 6.2(4): Directs $100,000 in nonrecurring funds to Wilson County School: Her Pride Afterschool Mentoring Program instead of to Wilson Pregnancy Center – as it was directed to in HB 259, 2023 Appropriations Act (SL 2023-134).
  • Section 7.1: Clarifies certain dates for the principal salary schedule outlined in HB 259, 2023 Appropriations Act (SL 2023-134).
The State Board of Education (Board) met Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this week. The Board approved the following:

  • Policy Amendment Restricting Authority for Local School Boards to Exceed Minimum Graduation Requirements
  • New Policy on Parents Bill of Rights Appeals
  • Emergency Rule on Parental Concern Hearings
  • Emergency Rule on Three-Year High School Graduation
  • Annual Report to NC General Assembly on Low Performing Districts and Schools
  • New Policy on Educational Services for the Deaf and Blind

Policy Amendment Restricting Authority for Local School Boards to Exceed Minimum Graduation Requirements:  The Board approved this policy which eliminates the specific authority for local boards of education to exceed the minimum requirements for graduation established by the SBE. Local Boards of Education may provide recommendations for additional requirements. This policy does not go into effect until the beginning of the 2024-25 school year. See the policy here.

Emergency Rule on Three-Year High School Graduation: To meet statutory obligations, the Board is required to develop a sequence of courses that shall be available to all local school administrative units to allow a student to complete the credits required for graduation in a three-year period. Additionally, the Board is required to adopt an emergency rule by November 1, 2023, to implement this requirement so that local school administrative units can advise students on the three-year graduation option beginning with the 2023-2024 school year. The Board approved the Emergency Rule on Three-Year High School Graduation. See the emergency rule here.

New Policy on Parents Bill of Rights Appeals:  The Board approved this policy which details the parental concern hearings procedure required by the Parents’ Bill of Rights. The policy describes the issues that may be appealed to the SBE under this policy and the hearing procedures for those issues. This item was before the SBE in October as a discussion item. See the policy here.

Emergency Rule on Parental Concern Hearings: To meet statutory obligations, the Board is required to adopt rules for parental concern hearings related to matters arising under Chapter 115C, Article 7B, Part 4 of the General Statues by January 30, 2024. The Board approved the proposed temporary rule and the text for the proposed temporary rule. See the emergency rule here.

Annual Report to NC General Assembly on Low Performing Districts and Schools: The Board approved a report that addresses the following:  districts and schools identified as low performing, effective improvement planning, and recommendations for additional legislation to improve student performance and increase local flexibility. See the report here and a presentation on the report here.

New Policy on Educational Services for the Deaf and Blind: The Board approved three new policies on Educational Services for the Deaf and Blind to Implement S.L. 2023-106: Parents’ Bill of Rights. See the three new policies here: (1) Parental Involvement Policy; (2) Parental Inspection of and Objection to Instructional Materials; (3) Surveys of Students

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

NC Recovery Practitioners Network
Sixteen districts have been chosen to join this new network. The network is a partnership between NCDPI, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education, NC Collaborator, Harvard University, Georgetown University, and local district leaders. Researchers at these schools will work with DPI and local leaders to develop recovery-focused interventions and evaluation plans to address pressing issues in local school districts. For more on this and to see the districts selected see here.

NC Teacher Working Conditions Survey
At the request of the SBE, DPI has revised and updated the NC Teacher Working Conditions Survey for the first time in many years. Staff released the revised draft of the survey they plan to use and discussed the goals of the survey and the data to be gathered. See presentation here and survey here.\

CARES Model Evaluation Report and One District’s Journey
This is a two year evaluation report. One of the goals of the CARES model is to improve school and district performance by 2027. The findings in the report are based on publicly available, aggregated school-level analysis. Individual student-level analysis will be included in subsequent reports based on data availability. In the last meeting, CARES school scores were broken down by region level analysis, this report goes one step further and breaks down scores by region level analysis. See a presentation on preliminary evaluation findings about CARES transformation coaching here and a presentation from Northampton County Schools here.

New Policy on Parents’ Guide to Student Achievement: The Board is committed to establishing minimum requirements by May 1. DPI is diligently engaging various stakeholders in the process of developing these requirements to ensure they align with the relevant legislation. While many aspects of the requirements are already being implemented in schools, the critical aspect was consolidating this information in a user-friendly format for parents to easily access.  This new policy is being taken up for approval next month.  See the policy here and a presentation from DPI outlining the minimum requirements and clarifying reporting deadlines here.

Computer Science Courses Satisfying Graduation Requirements:  In June 2023, a preliminary list of courses was published on the Computer Science and Technology website and distributed to PSUs for their input. The feedback received has been integrated into a list which was presented to the Board and is recommended for Board approval.  See the list of computer science courses here.  See a presentation for more detail here.

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

October 16, 2023 Headlines From the Weekly Report Include:

Education Department Creates Technical Assistance Centers: The US Department of Education has announced the creation of technical assistance centers. These centers will support state and local efforts to enhance student wellbeing, academic success, and school safety. Funds awarded for these technical assistance centers include $760,619 for the Comprehensive Literacy State Development Center; $18.3 million for National Technical Assistance Center for 21st Century Community Learning Centers; and $5.6 million for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment (Title IV, Part A) and Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) Stronger Connections Technical Assistance Center. Click here for a press release with more information.

October 23, 2023 Headlines From the Weekly Report Include:

FCC Adopts Rule Allowing Funds for Wi-Fi on School Buses: The Federal Communications Commission has issued a new rule allowing school districts to use money from the E-Rate program, which assists schools and libraries with buying affordable broadband, toward Wi-Fi and supported devices on buses. Funding for the E-Rate program, which is under the Universal Service Fund, is typically eligible to certain schools and libraries for educational purposes, with this new rule clarifying that Wi-Fi and similar technology on school buses is an educational purpose.
October 30, 2023 Headlines From the Weekly Report Include:

House Elects A Speaker, Budget Deadline Looms: After three weeks of political drama within the Republican majority caucus, the U.S. House of Representatives has elected a new Speaker,
Representative Mike Johnson (R-LA). Now that the House has a Speaker, attention turns back to passing a federal budget. The current continuing resolution funds the government through November 17th. Speaker Johnson has already indicated that the House will need to pass another continuing resolution to fund the government through either January 15th or April 15th.
Other Federal News

Energy Department To Hold School Partnership Webinar: The US Department of Energy is hosting the Power of Partnerships webinar on Thursday, November 16 at 1:00 PM ET, for districts to learn how partnerships with community-based organizations, energy service companies, universities, and utilities are helping schools address energy improvement challenges. To register for the webinar, click here.

EPA Clean School Bus Rebate Program: The US Environmental Protection Agency is now accepting applications for its 2023 Clean School Bus Rebate Program. Districts can apply for rebates to replace school buses with clean and zero-emission models. The deadline to apply is January 31, 2024 at 4pm, ET. Click here for more information.

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

State News

North State Journal: NC House Republicans Unite Behind Destin Hall As Next Speaker
North State Journal: NC Dept of Public Instruction Challenges State Auditor’s ‘Egregious’ Truancy Report
North State Journal: Eight NC Schools Named 2023 National Blue Ribbon Schools
Carolina Journal: Leandro’s Latest Twist Involves ‘Subject Matter Jurisdiction’
Carolina Journal: Unanimous Appeals Court Panel Rules Against Harnett Schools In Pension-Spiking Fight
WRAL: NC Supreme Court Agrees To Take Up Another Issue In the Leandro Education Lawsuit
WRAL: NC Students of Color and Students With Disabilities Are Sent To Police 2.5 Times As Often, ACLU Says
WFAE: NC Charter School Enrollment Keeps Growing While School Districts Stay Flat
WFAE: Federal Grants Will Help NC Schools Recruit, Reward, and Retain Teachers
News & Observer: NC Lawmakers Lowered Graduation Requirements. Some Schools Want Them Changed Back
News & Observer: Change Is Coming In How Math Is Taught In NC Schools. But Will It Make Students Care?
News & Observer: Free Breakfast In the Classroom? NC Offering Grants to Schools That Take the Leap
Education NC: When Will NC School Employees See Pay Raises?
Education NC: This Year’s Legislative Long Session Has Come To An End

National News

K-12 Dive: After-School Meal Participation Drops For the First Time
K-12 Dive: Education Department Watchdog To Audit Pandemic Aid Dollars Through 2025
Education Week: Need More Time To Spend ESSR Funds? Contact Your State Now, Ed Dept. Says
American Enterprise Institute: What School Boards Need To Know About Title IX
New York Times: School Cellphone Bans Are Trending. Do They Work?
New York Times: New SAT Data Highlights the Deep Inequality at the Heart of American Education

There are no education-related committee meetings scheduled at this time.
Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
NC School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.orgMadison Skeens
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
NC School Boards Association
mskeens@ncsba.orgRob Black
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
NC School Boards Association
Christina DavoileNCSBA Legislative Update – November 3, 2023