|State Board of Education Meeting February 2024
The State Board of Education (“Board”) met on Wednesday and Thursday of this week.
SBE Legislative Agenda
The Board discussed and approved its legislative priorities for the upcoming legislative short session which begins in late April. Items include:
- $4.5 million to continue funding efforts to transform schools designated as low performing.
- A joint ask with NC DHHS around evidence-based prevention and early intervention
- Supporting DPI priorities to ask for resources across 3 areas: (1) early math screeners, (2) math professional development for teachers in elementary, (3) addressing literacy to middle grade readers, 4th and 5th grade readers in particular.
DPI Legislative Agenda
DPI Secretary Truitt also shared DPI’s legislative priorities for the short session. Items include;
- Expansion of Read to Achieve professional development to middle grades teachers
- Legislate a statewide policy framework for math that includes Early math screener and professional development for elementary math teachers
- School Performance Grade Redesign
- Grant Funding to continue support for low-performing schools and districts
- Continued funding for Office of Learning and Research at NC DPI
NCSBA Legislative Priorities
While it was not a part of the SBE meeting, it is useful to also list NCSBA’s legislative priorities for the short session.
- Recruiting and Retaining Top Talent; Improving Working Conditions
- Increased pay and additional benefits
- Student Centered Calendar
- Fund more School Health Personnel
- Work with and support DPI’s efforts to revamp the school grading formula, statewide testing, and what constitutes a low-performing school
- High School Athletics
- Modify New Early Graduate Program
- Allow local boards of education to maintain additional requirements for students graduating in 4 years, based on local needs.
Center for Safer Schools Data Report
First, the Board received the Annual Consolidated Data Report for the 2022-2023 School year from Karen Fairley, Executive Director, Office of the Center for Safer Schools. The center compiles the report which is required by the legislature to address dropout rates, suspensions, expulsions, uses of corporal punishment, reassignments for disciplinary purposes, alternative placements, and acts of violence in the public schools. Statistics in the report include:
- 13.3% decrease for high school dropouts from 10,841 in 2021-22, to 9,612 in 2022-23. DPI notes this is the lowest number of high school dropouts across the state in a non-pandemic year since the 2013-14 school year.
- Increase in school safety incidents (includes acts of crime violence, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of a weapon) from11,170 in 2021-22, to 13,193 in 2022-23. DPI notes that incidents involving weapon possession decreased by 3.7%
- 35.7% increase in controlled substance incidents.
- 3.7% decrease in weapon possession incidents.
DPI stated that “the report’s findings increase safety awareness and allow school districts to evaluate safety protocols while facilitating discussions around how to improve, identify and strengthen safety measures in schools and communities.”
Click here for a DPI press release on these statistics and more, including increases in suspensions and expulsions. To see the PowerPoint presentation click here and see the full report to the legislature here.
Student Health and Safety
NC Health and Human Services Secretary, Kody H. Kinsley, wants to continue working with the Board and DPI to improve student and community health and safety. He highlighted the important impact of school-based health programs on student behavior and performance.
Secretary Kinsley reported on the following statistics:
- North Carolina is ranked 42nd out of 50 states in youth mental health service access
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for youth ages 10-18 in NC
- On average more than 50 children sleep in emergency departments and DSS offices each week due to unmet behavioral health needs
- 1 in 10 NC high school students attempted suicide
- 1 in 3 NC high school students are chronically absent
- 72% of NC high school students are not able to access needed mental health care
Secretary Kinsley believes that working together to address these issues in the schools maximizes the impact which in turn improves academic outcomes. See his full presentation which includes areas in need of investment, the vision for school behavioral health, and next steps, here.
Dr. Sarah Komisaro, from the Duke Sanford School of Public policy, then spoke to the benefits of school-based telemedicine access which her research shows reduces the likelihood that a student is chronically absent by 2.5 percentage points (29 percent) and the number of days a student is absent by about 0.8 days per year (10 percent). She added that her research suggests that telehealth can reduce violent or weapons-related disciplinary infractions. Reginald Keenan, Chair of the Healthy Responsible Students committee, summed it up later in the meeting in speaking about the Duke report and use of telemedicine in schools, “any positive effort to get to the children before the crisis is important” and it shows that “you can prevent violence if you put things in place.” See full presentation here.
American Rescue Plan ESSA III Updated Budget Plan: DPI indicated that due to changes in the budgets for previously approved items, there is approximately $4.6 million currently available from ESSER III grants for further initiatives. The Board is poised to approve activities to be funded from ESSER III State Reserve funds at the March meeting.
Alan Duncan, Chair of the Business Operations Committee, reported that he expects the amount of available funds to rise until June 30 to around $5.5 million. Proposals include $1.75 million for professional development in advanced teaching roles, $1.3 million for portrait of a graduate online learning modules, and regional training.
Up to $2 million is proposed for virtual summer courses through NC Virtual Public School. Superintendent Truitt notes that the national score card out of Harvard this week shows summer programs are recommended to recover from pandemic learning loss. $100,000 is proposed for DPI to hold a summit on AI issues with folks throughout the state. For the full list of proposed program spending see the Updated Budget Plan and the additional Funding Requests for 2024.
Career and College Promise (CCP) and Cooperative Innovative High School Programs: The full report will be submitted to the General Assembly. NC students have 3 pathways to higher education without cost as follows: College Transfer Path (CTP), Career and Technical Education (CTE), and Cooperative Innovative High Schools (CIHS). State Board policy CACP-000 requires LEAs to have developed a CCP Partnership Agreement with their CCP college partner by December 2023. The agreement must address partnership protocols, program offerings, communication plan to broaden access, student academic support systems, and responsibilities of school/district and college personnel, responsibilities for program expenses, operation and use of facilities and transportation. See presentation here and full report here.
Standards Revisions: The Board received the monthly update on the progress of ongoing standards revisions. DPI is analyzing data collected from surveys that closed on the K-12 Healthful Living Standards January 14 and will now create the third and final draft for these standards. Another survey will be released in mid-February following the second draft of K-12 Arts standards. K-12 World Language surveys will be open until mid-March. For more information see full report here.
The Board reviewed and did not approve EPPs for Moreland University and Kipp NC to allow time for further research. For information on Moreland University see here and Kipp NC see here.
Policies Reviewed and Approved
- Parents’ Bill of Rights Parental Concern Hearings Policy Changes
- Ninth Grade Accelerated Preparation for College Entry
- Middle School Introduction to Computer Science Elective Courses Requirement
- RFP for Community Learning Centers
- USDA Assistance Funds
- Changes to Professional Certification of Finance Officers
- After School Robotics Grant Recipients
- Allotment for Modernization of LEA Business Systems
- Heathy Active Children Policy Report
- 2023 School Mental Health Policy Report
- Final Evaluation Report for Innovation School District (INSD
Parents’ Bill of Rights Parental Concern Hearings Policy Changes: The Board updated State Board Policy PRNT-001, Parental Concern Hearings Procedure, so that it is consistent with 16 NCAC 06G .0701, the newly approved rule approved at the last meeting. Changes add definitions, clarify parents’ right to request a hearing, and provide documents to be submitted. See policy changes here.
Ninth Grade Accelerated Preparation for College Entry: The Board amended policy GRAD-006 to include the changes discussed last month which provide a recommended course sequence for both traditional and block high school schedules and for PSUs adopting sequences based on local needs. See policy here.
Middle School Introduction to Computer Science Elective Courses Requirement: The Board approved a list of elective middle school courses which satisfy the introductory computer science course requirement mandated in S.L. 2023-132. See list here.
RFP for Community Learning Centers: The Board approved the Request for Proposal (RFP) for LEAs, community-based organizations, city or county agencies, faith-based organizations, Bureau of Indian Education schools, Institutions of Higher Education, and for-profit corporations to submit applications to receive federal funds to provide education enrichment and learning support in out-of-school programs. Applications are due April 23, 2024. See report here and RFP here.
USDA Assistance Funds: The Board approved distribution of $35,228,553 in federal funds to assist districts dealing with supply chain disruptions which are causing financial difficulty/need. Recipients must agree to purchase only unprocessed or minimally processed food products. For grant agreement and a full list recipients’ funding allocations see here and here.
Professional Certification of Finance Officers: The Board approved changes to the Professional Certification Program for North Carolina School Finance Officers (FINO-000) to align policy with S.L. 2023-134. Finance Officers must complete at least two hours of conflict-of-interest training regarding the making and administering of contracts every odd-numbered fiscal year. Current Finance Officers must receive their initial training by April 2024. New Finance Officers must receive their training within 90 days, and subsequent trainings in every following odd-numbered fiscal year. See policy here.
After School Robotics Grant Recipients: Per S.L. 2023-134, the After School Robotics Competitive Grant application was provided to all PSUs. The total grant was funded at $1,000,000. NCDPI received over $2.1 million in requests from 46 schools. The Board approved the 22 recipients listed here.
Allotment to Modernize LEA Business Systems: The Board approved changes to the allotment policy for funds to implement the School Business System Modernization Plan which supports the modernization of local education agency (LEA) business systems, particularly those that support financial, payroll, human resources, and related human capital functions. See policy here.
Healthy Active Children Policy Report: Last month DPI staff reported on ratios of licensed PE teachers to students and data showing a correlation between physical activity and less persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness among high school students in NC. This month the Board approved the report. See full report here.
2023 School Mental Health Policy Report: Last month the Board discussed the need for support personnel such as school psychologists, counselors, and nurses, noting that chronic absenteeism goes down with the right ratios and time for instruction goes up. This month the Board approved the report. See full report here.
Final Evaluation Report for Innovation School District (INSD): The Board approved the report to the general assembly with the final evaluation of the pilot program known as the Innovate School District (INSD). See report here.