NCSBA Legislative Update – December 8, 2023

Recently, the NC General Assembly convened for skeletal sessions on Wednesday, November 29, with no votes taken. Meanwhile, County Boards of Elections experienced heightened activity as the filing period for the 2024 elections kicked off at noon on December 4th. Incumbents and challengers from across the political spectrum seized the opportunity to submit their filing fees and secure a spot on the ballot for positions ranging from Governor to school board.

Notably, the political arena saw three state legislative contenders emerge from the school boards community: Dana Caudill Jones, the former Chair of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education, is running for Senate District 31, the seat being vacated by the retirement of Sen. Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth). Additionally, Monika Johnson-Hostler, from the Wake County Board of Education, entered the race for House District 33, the seat being vacated by the retirement of Rep. Rosa Gill, also a former school board member (D-Wake). Finally, Nancy Meek, a former Chair of the Hickory City Board of Education, filed to run  for Senate District 45, the seat being vacated by the retirement of Sen. Dean Proctor (R-Catawba).

Filing closes at noon on Friday December 15th. Click here for the list of North Carolina House candidates who have filed so far. Click here for the list of North Carolina Senate candidates. Click here for a list of Council of State and Congressional candidates.

The State Board of Education ( “Board”) met Wednesday and Thursday of this week.  The Board approved the following:

  • New Policy on Parents’ Guide to Student Achievement
  • K-12 Guidance Standards
  • Computer Science Courses Satisfying Graduation Requirements
  • Changes to Athletics Policies
  • General Licensing Requirements Policy Amendment
  • Membership NCVPS Advisory Board
  • Digital Learning Grants RFPs
  • Extended Learning and Integrated Student Supports (ELISS) Competitive Grant Program
  • Contract Over $500,000

New Policy on Parents’ Guide to Student Achievement: The policy requires PSUs to develop and distribute a guide to student achievement for parents that meets certain requirements of the recent Parents’ Bill of Rights legislation. DPI staff indicated there will be a webinar next week with a template. See the policy here and the presentation here.

K-12 Guidance Standards:  Pursuant to Board policy SCOS-012 the Board approved guidance standards that are based on the American School Counselor Association Standards called Mindsets and Behavior for Student Success.  Instead of Guidance Standards, the name of this standard will be changed to Student Success Standards. See presentation here.

Computer Science Courses Satisfying Graduation Requirements: SL2023-132 created GS §115C-81.90 which requires the completion of a computer science course for graduation from high school starting with students entering the ninth grade in school year 2024-2025. The Board approved a list of Computer Science, IT, and Technology Education courses that would satisfy the graduation requirements. Click here for the list.

Changes to Athletics Policies:  Board legal counsel recommended  changes in several policies to coordinate Board policies with those of the N.C. High School Athletic Association for the 2023-2024 year. Those policies are as follows;

Athletic Trainers
Interscholastic Athletics
Administering Organizations
Concussion Safety and Emergency Plans
Penalty Rules
Student Participation Rules
Reporting Rules

Counsel indicated policy changes reflect what the Board originally approved during its September meeting.

General Licensing Requirements Policy Amendment: The Board amended its policy to reflect the changes from the recent appropriations legislation and also made some technical changes. The Board approved the limited license to be renewable for a duration of three years for the same PSU and eliminated the requirement of effectiveness data for out-of-state license holders with three or more years of teaching experience. With each of these changes, the Board added provisions.

First, when a limited license is being renewed, the employing local board must submit an affidavit signed by both the supervising principal and the superintendent stating that the teacher is an effective teacher who is currently employed by the local board and who will be encouraged to continue to pursue a CPL. Second, under the revised policy, out-of-state educators with three or more years of experience will now need to (1) provide documentation showing completion of an educator preparation program approved in the state in which the educator resides and (2) have achieved a passing score on an exam approved by that state where the license is issued and which fulfills, in part, the requirement to convert the license to a continuing license in that state. Technical changes revised the definition of Public School Unit to include LEA, Charter School, ISD School, Laboratory School, or Residential School and replaced references to LEA with PSU. See policy here.

Digital Learning Grants RFPs:  The Board approved the RFPs for these grants. The North Carolina Digital Learning Plan recommends the provision of grants to support the development and dissemination of local innovative digital learning models. The goal is to have effective innovative practices, implementing digital teaching and learning in conjunction with NC Digital Learning Competencies and Digital Learning Standards for Students. All PSUs are eligible to apply for these grants.  The request for proposals opens December 6, 2023, with proposals due March 4, 2024. The programs will be implemented Fall 2024-Spring 2027. See Digital Learning Impact Grant RFP and  Emerging Technologies Grant RFP.  See presentation here.

Extended Learning and Integrated Student Supports (ELISS) Competitive Grant Program:  This program funds support service programs for at-risk students to raise standards for student academic outcomes. The legislature has appropriated seven million dollars each year for 2023-2025.  Grant participants are eligible to receive grants for up to two years in an amount of up to $500,000 each year. Nonprofit corporations working with LEAs are eligible to apply to implement new or existing eligible programs for at-risk students. RFPs will be made available December 8, 2023, and are due by noon on January 17, 2023.  Approval and notification will be in March 2024. See presentation here.

Contract Over $500,000:  The Board approved amending the contract with the SAS EVAAS team to continue to gather and analyze the data needed to generate the legislatively mandated report which will quantify recovery from the pandemic. For a presentation on the amendment  click here. For the memorandum on the contracts click here .

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

  • 2023-2024 Report Beginning of Year Early Grade Reading Proficiency
  • Report on Broadening Access to and Increasing Success in Advanced Courses
  • Report on Transition Planning for Residential Schools for the Deaf and Blind
  • Standards Revisions
  • Licensure Renewal Requirements
  • Charter Schools Review Board Update
  • Appeals from Charter Schools Review Board (CSRB)
  • Charter School Renewal Process
  • Other reports

2023-2024 Report Beginning of Year Early Grade Reading Proficiency:  New data shows that elementary school students continue to make significant improvements in their reading skills. Based on beginning-of-year testing data, North Carolina students outpaced their peers on a national level in grades 1-3, while grades K-3 have shown steady improvement since the implementation of a standardized early literacy assessment in the 2021-22 school year.  For more information see presentation here.

Report on Broadening Access to and Increasing Success in Advanced Courses:  This report indicates that due to a consistent and intentional focus in the state, improvements have been made both in terms of participation in advance level courses and performance on advanced level exams. In 2022-2023 exam fees were covered for the cost of college level exams for all in the amount of $14,178,991.45.  Professional learning was also available for teachers in all districts. There is a 15.9% increase since last year in the number of students taking at least one AP course with 93,050 students currently enrolled-the highest enrollment ever according to DPI.  NC public school students earned qualifying scores on 80,792 AP tests which is a 15.4% increase over the prior year. See the report here and presentation here.

Report on Transition Planning for Residential Schools for the Deaf and Blind:  Pursuant to Session Law 2023-10 the residential schools for the deaf and blind will be governed by separate, independent boards of trustees, effective July 1, 2024.  DPI is required to develop a transition plan and submit interim reports on progress.  This is the second of three reports.  DPI highlighted the need for HR and legal supports for these schools. See full report here.

Standards Revisions:  The Board received an update on the progress of ongoing standards’ revisions.   DPI indicated it is making progress with surveys on K-12 Healthful Living, Arts, and World Language standards this past month.  For more information see presentation here.

Licensure Renewal Requirements:  Based on changes in Session Law 2023-134, policy LICN-005 has been updated to reflect the changes for licensure renewal.  These amendments include removal of the requirement for digital teaching and learning continuing education units (CEUs) and the provision that mandatory state and local professional development may be counted towards general CEUs. The Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission (PEPSC) unanimously recommended these amendments to LICN-005 during its November monthly meeting. See presentation here.

Charter Schools Review Board Update: Chair Bruce Friend and Vice Chair John Eldridge, gave a brief update on the November meeting. The board (1) approved Movement Freedom’s grade span reduction amendment request, (2) approved two applications (Movement School Gastonia and Movement School Greensboro), and (3) began renewal presentations/interviews with 8 schools placed at 3 year renewals or nonrenewal. The next meeting of this board is December 11, and 12. For more information see here

Appeals from Charter Schools Review Board (CSRB): Two charter schools appealed to the State Board of Education from decisions by the CSRB. After hearings on the requests, the board unanimously voted to not renew the charter for Heritage Collegiate Leadership Academy and close the School of the Arts for Boys Academy (SABA).

Charter School Renewal Process:  Within the context of revising policy, the Board discussed the charter school renewal process now that there is the new CSRB. The Board discussed revising current policy to set forth its expectations regarding compliance requirements for charters to meet for the renewal process.  Chair Davis would like to see the policy set forth a process for DPI to sign off on certain requirements. He wants the State Superintendent to make sure charters are in compliance and let the Board know when they are not.  Vice Chair Duncan indicated it is problematic when there are not matching comparables.  Local board advisor, Henry Mercer said he would like to see similar expectations for all schools but thinks it will be hard to guarantee this if some are held to higher standards.

Other Reports:

  • Pilot Program to Raise School Dropout Age (report here and presentation here)
  • Teacher Compensation and Advanced Teaching Roles Program Grant Recipients (report here and presentation here)
  • 2022-2023 NC Virtual Public School Report here
  • Rowan-Salisbury Schools-Renewal School System (report here)
  • Education of Children in Private Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities (report here).

The Board recognized eight Blue Ribbon Schools award winners designated by the US Department of Education. The program recognizes public and private elementary, middle, and high schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. The schools recognized were:

  • Beaufort County Early College High School, Beaufort County Schools
  • Fairview Elementary School, Buncombe County Schools
  • Greensboro Academy, Charter
  • Heyward C. Bellamy Elementary School, New Hanover County Schools
  • Highland School of Technology, Gaston County Schools
  • Jay M. Robinson Middle School, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
  • Lucama Elementary School, Wilson County Schools
  • W.R. Odell Elementary School, Cabarrus County Schools

Click here for a news story about the Blue Ribbon Schools.

The Board also recognized and thanked Henry Mercer, Vice-Chair of the Wilson County Board of Education, for his service as local board advisor this year. Board chair Eric Davis called Henry Mercer a “kind, compassionate, deeply committed, fiercely determined advocate for our students.”  Mercer said he would miss seeing everyone on the Board but was confident he was leaving the education of the children of North Carolina in good hands with this Board.

By statute, the yearly winner of the Raleigh Dingman Award – the highest honor NCSBA bestows upon a school board member – serves one year on the State Board of Education as the local board representative. The 2023-24 Raleigh Dingman Award winner is Dr. Mike Williams, Board of Trustees Chair, Roanoke Rapids Graded School District. Dr. Williams will begin his term in January.

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

November 6, 2023 Headlines From the Weekly Report Include:

Federal Funding Awards Help Increase Educator Pay, Increase Diversity: The Department of Education  announced last week nearly $115 million in new awards to support 29 Teacher and School Leader (TSL) Incentive projects, which expand on the department’s efforts to ensure a well-prepared, diverse, and sustainable educator workforce. The TSL grants help districts to address educator shortages by supporting career advancement and teacher leadership opportunities, increasing compensation, and improving educator retention.

Three North Carolina School districts will receive the awards:
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools                     $2,826,328
Wake County Public Schools                         $4,579,709
Montgomery County Schools                         $8,269,050

Click here to read a press release on the initiative.

November 13, 2023 Headlines From the Weekly Report Include:

Education Department Launches Campaign To Boost Teaching Profession: The US Department of Education has started a new campaign to elevate the teaching profession while also highlighting diversity. The centerpiece of the campaign is a public service announcement (PSA) meant to inspire more people to become teachers. The PSA will be featured on television, radio, and social media across the United States. Click here to see the PSA.

November 20, 2023 Headlines From the Weekly Report Include:

Congress Averts Government Shutdown – For Now: The House and Senate passed a continuing resolution (CR) that President Biden then signed. The CR funds federal agencies and programs at current levels. The CR includes a “two-step” element with two separate expiration dates. The first expiration date in the CR, January 19, would apply to the programs covered by the Agriculture, Energy-Water, Military Construction-VA, and Transportation-HUD bills. The second expiration date, February 2, would apply to the programs covered by the Commerce-Justice-Science, Defense, Financial Services-General Government, Homeland Security, Interior-Environment, Labor-HHS-Education, Legislative Branch, and State-Foreign Operations bills.

FCC Proposes Rule to Expand Home Wi-Fi For Students Without Internet Service: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed a new rule that would allow schools and libraries to apply for funding from the E-Rate program  to fund Wi-Fi hotspots and wireless internet access services that can be used off-premises. Click here to read a press release on the proposed rule.

December 4th, 2023 Headlines From the Weekly Report Include:

Coalition Affirms Commitment To Bolstering Student Mental Health: The US Department of Education released a statement in conjunction with the US Conference of Mayors, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and other organizations to affirm their commitment to bolstering student mental health. The statement highlights the exacerbation of mental health issues due to the pandemic’s disruptions and emphasizes the role of schools in providing mental health services. The ED announced a $2 billion investment to create inclusive learning environments, hire and train 14,000 new mental health professionals, and collaborate with the Department of Health and Human Services to expand Medicaid reimbursement for school-based health and mental health services.

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

State News
North State Journal: Teacher and Principal Receive National Education Award
North State Journal: Three NC Districts To Receive Millions In Award Funds From US Department of Education
Carolina Journal: School Board Group Backs Gaston County in State Supreme Court SAFE Child Act Case
Carolina Journal: Private Schools Appeal Trial Court Rulings in Dismissed Opportunity Scholarship Lawsuit
Carolina Journal: Retirement System Asks State Supreme Court To Reject Harnett Pension-Spiking Case 
WFAE: More North Carolina Students Are Taking High School Classes For College Credit Than Ever Before
WFAE: North Carolina Students Must Study Computer Science To Graduate Under New Law
WRAL: K-3 Students In NC Getting Back On Track For Reading
Charlotte Observer: NCHSAA Formally Approves New Classification Model, Expects New Memorandum With State
News & Observer: NC Has Spent Over $100 Million On the Science of Reading. Is It Paying Off?
Education NC: Report Ranks Best Schools In North Carolina
Education NC: ESSER Funds: NC Districts Played It Safe On Teacher Pay And May Avoid Fiscal Cliff

National NewsEducation Week: Athletic Trainers Are Often Missing From the Sidelines In School Sports
K-12 Dive: Final Title IX Rules Delayed Once More As Ed Department Misses Deadline
K-12 Dive: School Districts Face Growing Competition For Students
New York Times: In School Board Elections, Parental Rights Movement Is Dealt Setbacks
Washington Post: Homeschooling’s Rise From Fringe To Fastest Growing Form of Education
The Hill: Should the School Year Be Extended To Make Up for Learning Loss?

There are no education-related committee meetings scheduled at this time.
Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
NC School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.org

Madison Skeens
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
NC School Boards Association
mskeens@ncsba.org

Rob Black
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
NC School Boards Association
rblack@ncsba.org

Christina DavoileNCSBA Legislative Update – December 8, 2023