Rebekah Howard

NCSBA Legislative Update – February 25, 2022

 

SB 173: Free the Smiles Act

On Thursday, Governor Roy Cooper vetoed SB 173: Free the Smiles Act, saying “I have encouraged local boards to lift mask mandates and they are doing it across the State with the advice of health officials who see that COVID metrics are declining and vaccinations are increasing. The bipartisan law the legislature passed, and I signed last year allows local boards to make these decisions for their own communities and that is still the right course. Passing laws for political purposes that encourage people to pick and choose which health rules they want to follow is dangerous and could tie the hands of public health officials in the future.”

SB 173 would allow a parent to opt their child out of a mask mandate in public schools and repeal the requirement for monthly votes on mask policies.

SB 173, if passed, would supersede the Governor’s emergency powers and the authority of the Department of Health and Human Services. Additionally, this bill would apply to any future pandemic or unforeseen circumstance.

The bill passed both the House and Senate with a veto proof majority, but it is unclear if the Democrats who supported the bill will support a veto override.

 

As of February 25,

  • 98 school districts have mask optional policies (two have mask optional policies with certain stipulations and 15 have pending effective dates)
  • 17 school districts have mask mandates

The number of districts that have adopted optional mask policies has increased by 34 since last Friday, February 18. Additional districts are scheduled to vote today and next week on their mask policies.

NCSBA continues to track local school boards’ mask policies as districts vote monthly on whether to modify their current policy (required by Section 10 of SB 654/SL 2021-130). Click here to access a chart of school board actions. If your school district changes its mask policy or you have corrections to the chart, please email information to Rebekah Howard at rhoward@ncsba.org.

 

On Wednesday, a panel of trial court judges upheld the redrawn State House and Senate maps but ruled that the redrawn Congressional map was unconstitutional and selected a map drawn by outside experts. Both sides appealed the trial court’s ruling to the State Supreme Court for various reasons, but all appeals were dismissed.

Click here for the trial court’s ruling. Click here and here for articles on the ruling.

The candidate filing period for all races (federal, state, and local, except Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education) began at 8:00 am on Thursday, February 24, and will end at 12:00 pm on March 4. The primary election date is May 17.

 

House Select Committee on An Education System for North Carolina’s Future

This Committee met on Monday and heard a presentation on the public school funding system, as well as presentations from State Board of Education Chair Eric Davis and Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson.

Chair Davis stated that he believes the best place to start improving the State’s education system is to listen to students, parents, and educators. Davis listed three objectives to focus on:

  1. Elevating the teaching profession to attract and retain talent
  2. Providing the health and support services that our students need
  3. Increasing the academic achievement of all students

The Lieutenant Governor began his presentation with student outcomes from the 2020-2021 school year, stating that improved course standards are necessary to increase grade level proficiency and that these standards should be free of social engineering. Additionally, Robinson said that the State should decrease its reliance on federal tax dollars and programs and emphasized the need for the State to expand law enforcement and social services resources to maintain order and discipline in schools.

Click here for an article on the meeting, which includes an audio recording of the meeting. The next meeting of this Committee will be held on March 7 at South Asheboro Middle School.

 

State Superintendent Catherine Truitt announced the creation of a Parent Advisory Commission that will “elevate the voice of parents in students’ education.” The 48-member Commission will consist of six parents or guardians from each of the State’s eight education regions:

  • Two traditional public schools
  • One charter public school
  • One homeschool
  • One private school
  • One at-large public-school member from the largest county in each region, including: Buncombe, Catawba, Cumberland, Guilford, Mecklenburg, New Hanover, Pitt, and Wake

Per EdNC, in an email, Blair Rhoades, communications director for DPI, said that non-public school options are represented on the Commission for the following reasons:

  • “Every parent of a student has a story to tell. And every one of those stories can be used to make improvements or to lift up best practices elsewhere.”
  • Because Truitt “is a supporter of school choice, she wants to ensure that she is hearing feedback from every parent across the state.”
  • “This goal of this group is to represent all school choice options and include diverse feedback so that they can advise, inform, and engage school and community leaders as well as policy makers.

Members will serve two-year terms, and the Commission will plan to meet quarterly, with regional sub-groups meeting monthly. “This Commission is focused on giving parents a seat at the table and strengthening parent and family involvement in education.” Truitt said. “Parents play an integral role in encouraging their child to achieve excellence in the classroom.”

Click here to access the application for the Commission, which is due by March 31.

 

On Tuesday, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Committee of Practitioners held a meeting and heard presentations on the Promising Practices Clearinghouse, Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) III updates, regional qualitative research and Office of Learning Recovery and Acceleration (OLR) interventions, and the year of the workforce.

The Promising Practices Clearinghouse is an information-sharing effort that will support teachers, administrators, district personnel, and education advocates by providing strategies that have proven to be successful. DPI “will research, compile, disseminate, and promote practices for educators with the goal of improving educational opportunities for all 1.5 million public school students in North Carolina.”

The presentation on the year of the workforce focused on aligning K-12 education with workforce needs as the State continues to attract business. This is the goal of the statewide portrait of a graduate, which will be presented later this year.

Click here to access all meeting materials.

 

 

 

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.org

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
rhoward@ncsba.org

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – February 25, 2022
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NCSBA Legislative Update – February 18, 2022

 

On Thursday, a bill was presented in the House that would take away authority from local school boards regarding masking in schools. The conference committee report for SB 173: Free the Smiles Act was presented by House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, and Representative David Willis, R-Union, following a statement released by Speaker Moore last week calling for the end of “policies that effectively mandate masks in schools”.

Prior to the presentation of SB 173, Governor Roy Cooper announced that he would be holding a press conference on Thursday afternoon addressing mask mandates in schools. The House proceeded to pass SB 173 right before the Governor’s press conference, and the Senate passed the bill during the press conference.

SB 173: Free the Smiles Act

SB 173: Free the Smiles Act passed the House 76-42, with seven Democrats joining Republicans in support, and passed the Senate 28-17, with two Democrats joining Republicans in support. The bill is now on the Governor’s desk awaiting action. SB 173 does the following:

  • Allows a parent to opt their child out of a mask mandate in a public school unit (PSU)
  • Repeals the requirement for monthly votes on mask policies in PSUs
  • Requires PSUs to adopt a process for a parent to provide annual notification of election to opt their child out of a mask mandate
  • Prohibits students who are not wearing masks from being treated differently than students who are wearing masks, including in classroom assignments, course assignments, non-academic portions of the school day, extracurricular activities, student discipline, and academic grading
  • States that “No governing body of a public school unit, or its members, employees, designees, agents, or volunteers, shall be liable for any act or omission in compliance with this section that does not amount to gross negligence, willful or wanton conduct, or intentional wrongdoing.”

During the presentation of SB 173, legislative staff stated that the governor’s emergency powers would not supersede this legislation. Click here for an official bill summary.

Governor’s Press Conference 

Governor Cooper held a press conference with Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kody Kinsley, where he encouraged schools and local governments to end their mask mandates. “We are taking a positive step on mask requirements to help us move safely toward a more normal day to day life,” said Governor Cooper. “It’s time to focus on getting our children a good education and improving our schools, no matter how you feel about masks.” Governor Cooper also expressed concerns about SB 173.

StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit

During the Governor’s press conference, Secretary Kinsley explained how the State’s COVID metrics continue to move in the right direction and that updates to the StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit will reflect this. Updates to the Toolkit include recommending that schools:

  • Consider moving to voluntary masking, at the discretion of local authorities, as universal masking is a less important tool in lower risk settings like schools
  • Promote vaccinations and boosters for students and staff by providing accurate information and hosting vaccination events

Additionally,

  • Masks are recommended in indoor settings for people at high risk for severe disease and who are not up to date on vaccines
  • Masks are required following a COVID infection and recommended after a COVID exposure
  • Because masks can add a layer of protection for those who want it, schools should support students and staff who choose to wear a mask

These updates have not yet been added to the Toolkit and will not take effect until March 7.

Click here and here for articles covering the passage of SB 173, the Governor’s press conference, and updates to the Toolkit.

 

As of February 18,

  • 64 school districts have mask optional policies (six have mask optional policies with certain stipulations and 15 have pending effective dates)
  • 51 school districts have mask mandates (four have mask mandates because the district reached a certain positivity rate)

The number of districts that have adopted optional mask policies has increased by 23 since last Friday, February 11.

NCSBA continues to track local school boards’ mask policies as districts vote monthly on whether to modify their current policy (required by Section 10 of SB 654/SL 2021-130). Click here to access a chart of school board actions. If your school district changes its mask policy or you have corrections to the chart, please email information to Rebekah Howard at rhoward@ncsba.org.


 

The General Assembly voted to approve new legislative and congressional maps, following the State Supreme Court’s ruling on February 4 that the previously drawn maps were unconstitutional. The Supreme Court gave the legislature until 5:00 pm today, February 18, to submit redrawn maps to the trial court.

House

Senate

Congressional

Click here for an article on the newly drawn maps. Additionally, click here to see the Supreme Court’s full opinion, which was filed on February 14, and click here for an article on the full opinion.

As a reminder, in December 2021, the Supreme Court pushed back the primary election date from March 8 to May 17, as redistricting litigation progressed. Additionally, last month the State Board of Elections announced new candidate filing period dates, which will begin at 8:00 am on February 24 and end at 12:00 pm on March 4.

 

On Tuesday, the Governor’s Education Cabinet met and heard presentations on topics including, the NC Longitudinal Data System (NCLDS), teacher preparation, and a strategic economic development plan for NC. During the meeting Governor Cooper signed an executive order establishing a governance board for the NCLDS. The NCLDS combines data from multiple State agencies to “increase our knowledge of the opportunities and challenges that North Carolinians experience as they transition from early childhood, through the education system, and into the labor market.”

Click here to access the meeting agenda and materials. Click here for an article on the meeting.

 

Monday, February 21

1:00 pm – House Select Committee on An Education System for North Carolina’s Future – Legislative Offices Building, rm 544 (live stream)

 

 

 

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.org

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
rhoward@ncsba.org

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – February 18, 2022
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NCSBA Legislative Update – February 11, 2022

 

On Thursday, DHHS released an updated version of the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit, which no longer recommends individual contact tracing and exclusion from school of asymptomatic students and staff after an identified exposure (page 15). DHHS staff explained that it is important for schools to focus on strategies that are most effective for preventing the spread of COVID-19 like vaccines, boosters, testing, and masking. Contact tracing has proven to be a less effective tool because of several factors, including:

  • Emergence of variants with shorter incubation periods and more rapid transmission
  • Most contagious periods prior to symptom onset and during the first few days of illness
  • Large number of asymptomatic and less severe cases
  • Many infections are never identified by public health agencies because persons with asymptomatic or mild cases may not get tested as well as the increasing use of over the counter at-home tests
  • Low proportion of all infections being detected or reported to public health during time when people are in their most infectious time period

The updated Toolkit clarifies that schools should still notify potentially exposed students or staff, and that notification can be done on an individual, group, or school basis (see table on page 16). Additionally, schools should implement policies that allow asymptomatic students and staff to stay home from school for five days after an exposure if they choose to do so. It is recommended that students and staff who have been exposed to COVID wear a mask for 10 days after exposure and get tested five days after exposure. Local public health officials continue to have the authority to implement more restrictive policies than what is recommended by DHHS.

These updates to the Toolkit are effective February 21. Click here for DHHS’s press release on the updated Toolkit.

The Toolkit did not make changes to masking recommendations, which say that all schools should require all children and staff to wear masks indoors in areas of high or substantial transmission, as defined by the CDC. Currently, every NC county is labeled as having high rates of transmission.

Following the release of the updated Toolkit, House Speaker Tim Moore released a statement saying that the updates did not do enough. “We must do more to protect our children from further learning setbacks and the other consequences of keeping these (mask) mandates in place.” The statement also says that legislation that gives parents the ability to opt-out of mask requirements will soon be advanced in the House. Additionally, on Thursday Speaker Moore sent a letter to Governor Roy Cooper urging him and DHHS Secretary Kody Kinsley to “repeal the guidelines that force healthy kids to stay home and effectively mandate masks in schools.”

 

On Friday, February 4, the State Supreme Court ruled that the newly drawn State legislative and congressional district maps were unconstitutional and ordered the legislature to submit redrawn maps to the trial court by 5:00 pm on February 18.

The Supreme Court’s 4-3 decision was split along party lines, with the majority stating that “When, on the basis of partisanship, the General Assembly enacts a districting plan that diminishes or dilutes a voter’s opportunity to aggregate with likeminded votes to elect a governing majority – that is, when a districting plan systematically makes it harder for one group of voters to elect a governing majority than another group of voters of equal size – the General Assembly unconstitutionally infringes upon that voter’s fundamental right to vote.”

In December 2021, the Supreme Court pushed back the primary election date from March 8 to May 17, as redistricting litigation progressed. Additionally, last month the State Board of Elections announced new candidate filing period dates, which will begin at 8:00 am on February 24 and end at 12:00 pm on March 4.

Click here and here for articles on the ruling.

 

House Select Committee on an Education System for North Carolina’s Future

This committee met on Monday and was presented with information on the public school funding system and State Superintendent Catherine Truitt’s Operation Polaris. Superintendent Truitt focused on the need to reform the current school accountability model, saying that metrics like chronic absenteeism and durable skills attainment should be included in the model. Additionally, Superintendent Truitt emphasized the need to do a better job of preparing students for the workforce.

This committee will meet again in two weeks to hear from the Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson and State Board of Education Chair Eric Davis. In the future, the Committee will hold meetings in Randolph, Union, Gaston, and Carteret counties.

Click here for an article on the meeting, which includes legislator discussion.

Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations, Subcommittee on Use and Distribution on Federal COVID Funding

This committee met on Wednesday and heard testimonies from Dr. Vanessa Wrenn, DPI’s Chief Information Officer, and Dr. Lynn Harvey, DPI’s Director of School Nutrition Services.

Dr. Wrenn’s presentation was on the use and distribution of technology funding. She discussed the State’s work to ensure that each student had internet access and devices to participate in remote learning, including the use of almost $97 million in federal COVID relief funds to address the highest technology needs across the State. Additionally, the number of LEAs that provide a device to each student increased from 16 in June 2019 to 104 in February 2022. One legislator questioned how much funding it would take to maintain this current level of technology, to which Dr. Wrenn estimated a base level of $150 million to annually replace 25% of student devices.

Dr. Harvey’s presentation was on school nutrition operations during the pandemic. Dr. Harvey stated that nearly 60% of students enrolled in NC’s public schools qualify for free or reduced-price meals, and NC is among the top 10 states for chronic hunger. U.S. Department of Agriculture waivers have allowed meals at no cost to all children, and Dr. Harvey requested that the committee consider writing a letter to NC’s Congressional Delegation requesting that waivers be extended into the next school year. Legislators expressed concerns, including wasted student meals, how to determine if a child is truly hungry, and how LEAs recover from accrued student meal debt.

Click here and here for articles on the meeting, which include legislator discussion.

 

As of February 11,

  • 40 school districts have mask optional policies (seven have mask optional policies with certain stipulations and eight have pending effective dates)
  • 75 school districts have mask mandates (four have mask mandates because the district reached a certain positivity rate)

The number of districts that require masks has decreased by 12 since last Friday, February 4.

NCSBA continues to track local school boards’ mask policies as districts vote monthly on whether to modify their current policy (required by Section 10 of SB 654/SL 2021-130). Click here to access a chart of school board actions. If your school district changes its mask policy or you have corrections to the chart, please email information to Rebekah Howard at rhoward@ncsba.org.

 

On Wednesday, Governor Roy Cooper extended the policy that allows State employees to use volunteer days to work as “substitute teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria staff, and other needed roles” in NC’s public schools. This policy, which is an effort to combat staff shortages in schools due COVID-19, is extended through April 15.

Full-time State employees are eligible for 24 hours of paid community service leave each calendar year, and this extension provides an additional 24 hours. The policy continues to allow State employees to receive compensation earned from working in public schools.

“We want to keep students learning safely in the classroom and encourage State employees to serve as substitutes and volunteers and be able to keep any compensation they receive,” said Governor Cooper. “This extension gives school districts more time to bring in volunteers and gives our generous State employees more opportunities to lend their talents to their local schools.”

Click here for the existing community service leave policy and click here for the temporary exception allowing expanded use of the policy in schools.

 

We have updated our 2021-2022 Legislative Summary to include SB 219: Surveyor Lic. & Ed. Req’s/Constr. Contract Rev’s, which was recently signed into S.L. 2022-1.

Click here to access the NCSBA 2021-2022 Legislative Summary.

 

 

 

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.org

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
rhoward@ncsba.org

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – February 11, 2022
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NCSBA Legislative Update – February 4, 2022

 

Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations, Subcommittee on Use and Distribution on Federal COVID Funding

The Subcommittee met on Tuesday to hear a presentation on K-12 Learning Loss and Federal COVID Relief Funds from Senate Governmental Operations Evaluators, as well as testimonies from State Superintendent Catherine Truitt and Dr. Michael Maher, Executive Director of DPI’s Office of Learning Recovery and Acceleration. The presentation covered how federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) I, II, and III funds were used in the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years to address learning loss. Presenters concluded that DPI and LEAs did not urgently respond to learning loss as it was occurring.

Following this presentation, Superintendent Truitt began her testimony by stating that there were many inaccuracies in the data and analysis that was presented by the Senate Governmental Operations Evaluators. Truitt then explained strategies to combat learning loss and improve student performance, including the science of reading, social-emotional learning, modifying the formula for school grades, and adding indicators to the school accountability model. Superintendent Truitt was followed by Dr. Maher who emphasized the amount of work that his team has done and continues to do to combat learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click here for an article on the Subcommittee meeting, which includes more on the testimonies of Superintendent Truitt and Dr. Maher.

HB 605: 2022 Primary Date

On Friday, January 28, Governor Roy Cooper vetoed HB 605: 2022 Primary Date. This bill would have pushed the primary election date from May 17 to June 7 and changed the candidate filing period for all offices on the 2022 ballot to begin on March 24 and end on April 1. HB 605 passed both the House and Senate on party-line votes, and Republicans do not have a veto-proof majority.

Governor Cooper stated, “This bill is an additional attempt by Republican legislators to control the election timeline and undermine the voting process. The constitutionality of congressional and legislative districts is now in the hands of the North Carolina Supreme Court and the Court should have the opportunity to decide how much time is needed to ensure that our elections are constitutional.”

The State Supreme Court heard arguments on the newly drawn State legislative and congressional district maps on Wednesday, February 2, and a decision is expected to be made soon. In December 2021, the Supreme Court pushed back the primary election date from March 8 to May 17, as redistricting litigation progressed. Additionally, last month the State Board of Elections announced new candidate filing period dates, which will begin at 8:00 am on February 24 and end at 12:00 pm on March 4.

Click here and here for articles on the Governor’s veto of HB 605.

SB 219: Surveyor Lic. & Ed. Req’s/Constr. Contract Rev’s

Last week Governor Cooper signed SB 219: Surveyor Lic. & Ed. Req’s/Constr. Contract Rev’s (sponsor: Senator Tom McInnis, R-Richmond) into S.L. 2022-1. This bill impacts governmental entities, including LEAs, that engage in either (i) design-build or design-build bridging methods of public contracting, (ii) certain construction or design professional agreements, (iii) construction lien disputes.

  • Section 2 – A LEA that intends to use design-build or design-build bridging methods for construction projects on or after March 1, 2022, would have to comply with changes in the statutory requirements pertinent to that method as set out in Section 2. It also applies to contracts that are amended or renewed on or after March 1, 2022.
  • Section 3 – LEAs that include a provision in their construction or design professional agreements that conditions interim and progress payments on a waiver or release of liens or claims will be automatically void and unenforceable, except in certain situations. It applies to liens attached on or after March 1, 2022.
  • Section 4 – Changes the rules for how a presiding judge or arbitrator awards attorneys’ fees in construction lien disputes. Effective March 1, 2022.

 

The State Board of Education met for its monthly meeting on Wednesday and Thursday and heard presentations on the following:

DHHS COVID-19 update: The Board received a presentation from DHHS showing that although NC is considered to have a high level of transmission, many metrics are starting to decrease, including daily positive cases and daily number of people currently hospitalized. The presentation includes graphs specific to case rates among children and educational clusters. Slide 11 provides data on LEA mask policies, including the number and percentage of students affected by differing mask policies.

Additionally, DHHS is continuing to make N95 masks available for K-12 schools, and districts must fill out this survey by today, February 4, to receive a shipment of masks. If you have questions about the N95 mask distribution, please contact OEMSSupportCell@dhhs.nc.gov.

There were no changes to the StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit for the Board to approve at this month’s meeting.

Modifications to the NC Benefits Policy Manual: The Board approved modifications to the NC Benefits Policy Manual regarding teacher personal leave. These modifications are a result of a provision included in the State budget (S.L. 2021-180) that allows teachers to take personal leave at no cost if the teacher provides a reason for the leave. If a teacher does not provide a reason, the full cost of hiring a substitute teacher will be deducted from the teacher’s pay. Previously, DPI had included in the proposed policy modifications that a LEA would be responsible for determining what constitutes a “reason”, and a teacher who fails to provide a locally approved reason may be charged the full cost of hiring a substitute. That section was stricken prior to Board approval. Click here to see the approved policy modifications in red.

Rules for interscholastic athletics: The Board approved rules for interscholastic athletics. These rules implement provisions of S.L. 2021-184 that require the SBE to either enter into a memorandum of understanding with a nonprofit to administer high school interscholastic athletics (which could be the NC High School Athletic Association but is not required to be) or assign administration to DPI. Click here to read the rules.

Consolidated data report on school crime & violence, suspensions & expulsions, use of corporal punishment, reassignments for disciplinary reasons, alternative learning placements, and dropout rates: The Board was presented with this 2020-2021 school year data report, which will be approved at the March meeting and submitted to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee by March 15. Presenters noted that there are significant decreases in the data due to the closing of schools in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that making comparisons to data from prior years should be done cautiously. The following are key findings in the statewide data report:

  • There were 1,535 acts of reportable crimes, with the crime rate of 1.04 crimes per 1000 students
  • There were 19,482 short-term suspensions as a result of criminal or non-criminal acts (unacceptable behaviors)
  • Of the 19,482 short-term suspensions, 18,290 (94.0%) were given as a result of an incident involving unacceptable behaviors (non-criminal acts)
  • 82 long-term suspensions were reported
  • There were 6 expulsions in North Carolina schools
  • Zero school districts reported the use of corporal punishment

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) update: Board members were presented with DPI’s progress on drafting and submitting an addendum, waiver, and amendment to the U.S. Department of Education (USED) regarding the effect of federally required assessments and accountability on the State’s ESSA Plan. DPI is drafting an addendum to the ESSA Plan for the 2021-2022 school year because of the impact of COVID-19 on data calculation and reporting. DPI is also seeking a possible waiver from the USED to mitigate the negative impact on school performance grades caused by not reaching the 95% participation requirement in the 2020-2021 school year. Lastly, DPI is working on an amendment to the ESSA Plan that would address lasting changes to the State’s accountability system based on lessons learned over the past two years. Click here for DPI’s presentation.

Click here to access all meeting materials. Click here for an article on the meeting.

 

The latest COVID-19 data may present an exit strategy from universal masking in school districts. Click here to listen to the discussion with a leading expert in pediatrics and infectious diseases in the latest episode of The Board Table.

 

As of February 4,

  • 28 school districts have mask optional policies (five have mask optional policies with certain stipulations and one has a pending effective date)
  • 87 school districts have mask mandates (three have mask mandates because the district reached a certain positivity rate)

The number of districts that require masks has decreased by two since last Friday, January 28.

NCSBA continues to track local school boards’ mask policies as districts vote monthly on whether to modify their current policy (required by Section 10 of SB 654/SL 2021-130). Click here to access a chart of school board actions. If your school district changes its mask policy or you have corrections to the chart, please email information to Rebekah Howard at rhoward@ncsba.org.

 

Monday, February 7

1:00 pm – House Select Committee on An Education System for North Carolina’s Future – Legislative Offices Building, rm 544 (live stream)

Wednesday, February 9

9:00 am – Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations, Subcommittee on Use and Distribution of Federal COVID Funding – Legislative Building Auditorium (live stream)

 

 

 

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.org

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
rhoward@ncsba.org

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – February 4, 2022
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NCSBA Legislative Update – January 28, 2022

 

House Select Committee on an Education System for North Carolina’s Future

This Committee was created in December and met for the first time on Monday. Members heard a presentation on Constitutional and Statutory Provisions for Public Education in NC from Jeanette Doran, President of the NC Institute for Constitutional Law. The presentation included a history of educational authority, divisions of educational authority, the process of rulemaking, and notable court cases regarding education.

The Committee’s senior chair, Representative John Torbett, R-Gaston, then led the Committee in discussion on what an education system in NC could look like if they were to start from the beginning. Discussion points included:

  • Questioning why age dictates grade level
  • Lack of life skills being taught in schools
  • Learning to read and reading to learn
  • Reinstatement of master’s pay
  • School calendar issues
  • Early childhood education
  • Electing members to the State Board of Education, rather than appointment by the governor
  • Lack of financial literacy being taught in schools
  • Shortage of skilled labor across the State

Chair Torbett stated that this Committee will most likely be a two-year effort. Additionally, the Committee’s next meeting is planned for Monday, February 7, at 1:00 pm and will include a presentation from the State Superintendent. The Chair expressed intent to meet again later in February to receive a presentation from the State Board of Education Chair. Business and industry representatives, as well as teachers, will be invited to present in future meetings. Click here for an article on the meeting.

 

On Wednesday, NC Chamber President Gary Salamido and State Superintendent Catherine Truitt held a joint webinar discussing the gap between NC’s K-12 public schools and its workforce. Discussion included what’s currently being done to address the gap and what can be improved for the future. Truitt highlighted programs that connect students to future workforce opportunities, like the ROC in Charlotte that trains high school students in construction trades. She also critiqued the State’s current school accountability metrics that do not take into account academic alignment with workforce needs.

Additionally, Truitt outlined four key goals that are part of DPI’s new workforce development website:

  1. Prepare the future workforce with the skills and experiences required to be successful, productive citizens, providing a robust talent pipeline that powers the State’s economic development efforts.
  2. Ensure that all students have access to post-secondary pathways that align with growing, high-wage careers that meet local, regional, and/or statewide industry demand for talent.
  3. Assist all students and parents in making informed plans and decisions about future education and career opportunities
  4. Ensure that all students engage in career exploration and real-world learning activities throughout the K-12 journey.

Both Salamido and Truitt noted the role that the COVID-19 pandemic has played in clearly revealing where the gaps between K-12 education and the workforce are and reigniting a spirit of alignment in closing those gaps. Truitt explained how DPI’s “Portrait of a Graduate”, which will be presented in the fall, “will provide a critical foundation for a revised accountability approach that will better align the K-12 education system with the State’s workforce needs.”

The following are resources from the webinar:

 

On Tuesday, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Committee of Practitioners held a meeting. This Committee was established as an advisory committee to the State Board of Education and DPI to provide feedback and recommendations in the carrying out of the State’s responsibilities under the ARP.

During the meeting, Committee members elected Dr. Valerie Bridges, Superintendent of Edgecombe County Schools and NC’s 2022 Superintendent of the Year, to be the Committee’s chair and Tamika Walker-Kelly, President of the NC Association of Educators, to be the Committee’s vice chair. The meeting agenda included various presentations on promising practices, learning recovery, funding and programing updates, and research and evaluation updates. Click here to access all meeting materials.

 

As of January 28,

  • 26 school districts have mask optional policies (five have mask optional policies with certain stipulations)
  • 89 school districts have mask mandates (three have mask mandates because the district reached a certain positivity rate)

The number of districts that require masks has increased by one since last Friday, January 21.

NCSBA continues to track local school boards’ mask policies as districts vote monthly on whether to modify their current policy (required by Section 10 of SB 654/SL 2021-130). Click here to access a chart of school board actions. If your school district changes its mask policy or you have corrections to the chart, please email information to Rebekah Howard at rhoward@ncsba.org.

 

On Tuesday, February 1, at 1:00 pm the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations, Subcommittee on Use and Distribution of Federal COVID Funding will meet in the Auditorium of the Legislative Building. (live stream)

Additional Education Meeting

On Wednesday, February 2, and Thursday, February 3, the State Board of Education will have its monthly meeting. Click here for the agenda. (live stream)

 

 

 

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.org

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
rhoward@ncsba.org

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – January 28, 2022
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NCSBA Legislative Update – January 21, 2022

 

On Wednesday the House and Senate convened to vote on a bill that would modify the 2022 primary election date and candidate filing period. HB 605: 2022 Primary Date pushes the primary election date from May 17 to June 7 and sets the candidate filing period for all offices on the 2022 ballot to begin at 8:00 am on March 24 and end at 5:00 pm on April 1. HB 605 passed the Senate on a 26-17 party-line vote and then passed the House on 69-50 party-line vote. The bill has been presented to the Governor.

The introduction and passage of HB 605 follow the State Supreme Court’s announcement that it will hear arguments on the newly drawn State legislative and congressional district maps on February 2. Last week a three-judge panel reached a decision to uphold these maps, but the decision was then appealed to the Supreme Court.

Last month the Supreme Court pushed back the primary election date from March 8 to May 17, as redistricting litigation progressed. Additionally, last week the State Board of Elections announced new candidate filing period dates, which are different from the dates included in HB 605.

Republican supporters of HB 605 say that it will give the legislature ample time to redraw district maps, if needed based on the Supreme Court’s decision. Democrats in opposition of HB 605 stated that there is no need for the legislature to intervene in the court’s process and attempt to solve a problem before it exists. Additionally, it was noted that this new June 7 date would interfere with the last week of school, which supporters of the bill said had not yet been considered.

It is not clear if Governor Cooper plans to sign or veto HB 605, but a spokesman for the Governor’s office is quoted by the News & Observer saying “The Supreme Court will determine the constitutionality of these districts and legislators should avoid additional attempts to undermine the voting process.”

Click here for an official bill summary.

 

On Tuesday, the Governor’s Teacher Advisory Committee met and received presentations on a plan for a new teacher licensure process and teacher recruitment. The new teacher licensure process proposal was presented by Dr. Patrick Miller, Chair of the Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission and Superintendent of Greene County Schools, and Dr. Tom Tomberlin, Director of Educator Recruitment and Support at DPI. The objective is to create a more open teacher pipeline that is outcomes-based, and presenters stated that this plan could result in higher teacher pay. Click here to read more about this plan and goals for its implementation.

 

As of January 21,

  • 27 school districts have mask optional policies (six have mask optional policies with certain stipulations)
  • 88 school districts have mask mandates (two have mask mandates because the district reached a certain positivity rate)

The number of districts that require masks has remained the same since last Friday, January 14.

NCSBA continues to track local school boards’ mask policies as districts vote monthly on whether to modify their current policy (required by Section 10 of SB 654/SL 2021-130). Click here to access a chart of school board actions. If your school district changes its mask policy or you have corrections to the chart, please email information to Rebekah Howard at rhoward@ncsba.org.

 

On Monday, January 24, at 1:00 pm the newly created House Select Committee on An Education System for North Carolina’s Future will be meeting for the first time in the Legislative Offices Building, rm 544 (live stream).

 

 

 

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.org

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
rhoward@ncsba.org

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – January 21, 2022
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NCSBA Legislative Update – January 14, 2022

 

On Tuesday, the State Board of Elections announced that candidate filing for the 2022 primary elections, as well as rescheduled municipal elections, will resume at 8:00 a.m. on February 24 and will end at 12:00 pm on March 4, under an order issued by the Superior Court of Wake County.

 

A three-judge panel reached a unanimous decision to uphold State legislative and congressional district maps that were being challenged in redistricting lawsuits. The order, issued on Tuesday, states: “This Court neither condones the enacted maps nor their anticipated potential results. Despite our disdain for having to deal with issues that potentially lead to results incompatible with democratic principles and subject our State to ridicule, this Court must remind itself that these maps are the result of a democratic process.”

This court’s decision is expected to be appealed to the State Supreme Court, which could result in an adjustment to the newly announced candidate filing period. Click here for an article that provides more information on this most recent court order and the legal arguments leading up to the decision.

 

On Wednesday, the Biden Administration announced that it will increase the number of COVID-19 tests available to schools by 10 million per month. According to the press release, “These additional tests will help schools safely remain open and implement screening testing and test to stay programs. With the additional ten million tests per month, we will make available to schools more than double the volume of testing that took place in schools across the nation in November 2021 (the most recent data available).”

Click here for the White House press release, which includes more information on the distribution of these additional tests.

 

On Wednesday, Governor Roy Cooper announced that State employees are allowed to use volunteer days to work as “substitute teachers, bus drivers, and cafeteria staff” in NC’s public schools. This is an effort to combat staff shortages in schools due to the current rise in COVID-19 cases.

“It is critical that we keep children learning in the classroom safely,” said Governor Cooper. “This policy will encourage State employees to lend a helping hand to our students at a time of severe staffing challenges for our public schools.”

Full-time State employees are eligible for 24 hours of paid community service leave each calendar year, and the Governor’s policy will allow these employees to use this paid leave while also receiving compensation earned from working in public schools. The policy is effective January 12 and ends on February 15.

Click here for the existing community service leave policy and click here for the temporary exception allowing expanded use of the policy in schools.

 

As of January 14,

  • 27 school districts have mask optional policies (four have mask optional policies with certain stipulations – see map below)
  • 88 school districts have mask mandates (two have mask mandates because the district reached a certain positivity rate)

The number of districts that require masks has increased by 19 since last Friday, January 7.

NCSBA continues to track local school boards’ mask policies as districts vote monthly on whether to modify their current policy (required by Section 10 of SB 654/SL 2021-130). Click here to access a chart of school board actions. If your school district changes its mask policy or you have corrections to the chart, please email information to Rebekah Howard at rhoward@ncsba.org.

 

On Monday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced an additional $361 million in the latest wave of Emergency Connectivity Fund support for schools and libraries. These funds will support nearly 654,000 connected devices and over 313,000 broadband connections. “The Emergency Connectivity Fund is the single largest effort to close the Homework Gap by bringing connectivity and devices to students and library patrons”, stated FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

This seventh wave of funding brings the total commitment to nearly $4.2 billion since the program began on June 29, 2021, of which nearly $137 million has been committed to North Carolina.

Click here for the FCC press release. Click here for the Emergency Connectivity Fund webpage.

 

 

 

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.org

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
rhoward@ncsba.org

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – January 14, 2022
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NCSBA Legislative Update – January 7, 2022

 

Today the NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) released updated guidance on diagnosis, symptoms, and exposure related to COVID-19 (see pages 15-16) in the StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit. Additionally, a new test to stay exemption is included in the updated Toolkit (see bottom of page 16), with the following guidance:

Click here for the updated Toolkit. Click here for updated CDC guidance for K-12 schools.

As a reminder, per the Governor’s office, school districts can request testing kits and other testing support from DHHS as part of the StrongSchoolsNC K-12 COVID-19 Testing Program. Public schools can also request funding to hire additional school nursing support staff for school testing and other school-based health services. Please reach out to K12COVIDTesting@dhhs.nc.gov for more information.

Additionally, N95 masks are available for teachers and adult staff at no cost. Schools can request for N95 masks online. Please use the “Critical Infrastructure PPE Request Form” to ensure your request is prioritized for shipment.

 

As of January 7, 2022, 39 school districts allow masks to be optional, seven districts allow masks to be optional with certain stipulations (see map below for more information), and 69 districts require masks. The number of districts that require masks has increased by four since December 17, 2021.

NCSBA continues to track local school boards’ mask policies as districts vote monthly on whether to modify their current policy (required by Section 10 of SB 654/SL 2021-130). Click here to access a chart of school board actions. If your school district changes its mask policy or you have corrections to the chart, please email information to Rebekah Howard at rhoward@ncsba.org.

 

The State Board of Education met for its monthly meeting on Wednesday and Thursday. In addition to the presentation and approval of updates to DHHS’s StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit, the Board was presented with the following:

NC Standard Course of Study Internal Procedures Manual Update: During the December Board meeting, DPI presented its first draft of the NC Standard Course of Study (NCSCOS) Internal Procedures Manual, which provides a consistent approach in the development of standards. A follow up presentation was provided by DPI staff during this month’s meeting, which highlighted the inclusion of school districts in the development of the Internal Procedures Manual and the importance of continued transparency throughout the process of updating standards. Next, DPI will begin working on the NCSCOS External Implementation Guide.

Implementation of Federal Coronavirus Relief Funds Update: Board members received a comprehensive presentation on the spending of federal coronavirus relief funds. The following links provide details on specific allotments:

Additionally, Board Chair Eric Davis recognized Worley Edwards of Columbus County as the new Local School Board Advisor.

Click here to access all meeting materials.

 

 

 

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.org

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
rhoward@ncsba.org

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – January 7, 2022
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NCSBA Legislative Update – December 3, 2021

 

Session Adjournment

The House and Senate have agreed to adjourn for 20 days. Both chambers passed HJR 979: Adjournment Resolution to adjourn the legislative session from December 10 to December 30. However, House Speaker Tim Moore said that he does not expect voting sessions before January 3, 2022. Upon return, legislators can address vetoes, court rejected district maps, litigation on session laws, conference reports, and a few other items.

HB 91: Accountability and Fair Play in Athletics

HB 91: Accountability and Fair Play in Athletics was signed into S.L. 2021-184 on November 23. This bill requires the State Board of Education (SBE) to either enter into a memorandum of understanding with a nonprofit to administer high school interscholastic athletics (which could be the NC High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) but is not required to be) or assign administration to DPI.

Authors of HB 91 (Senators Vickie Sawyer, R-Iredell; Todd Johnson, R-Union; and Tom McInnis, R-Richmond) say that the bill is a result of an ongoing investigation into the NCHSAA over the past two years concerning lack of transparency. The passage of this bill follows meetings between representatives of the NCHSAA, the SBE, Governor Cooper, and legislators from both parties. Click here for an official bill summary.

Local Election Bills

HB 400: Asheville City Sch. Bd. Appt/Elections (primary sponsors: Representatives Susan Fisher, D-Buncombe; Brian Turner, D-Buncombe; John Ager, D-Buncombe) passed the Senate on a voice vote, concurred in the House 103-0, and was chaptered into S.L. 2021-187. This bill changes the Asheville City Board of Education from an appointed board to an elected board and increases the number of board members from five to seven. Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 118: Buncombe School Bd. Election passed the Senate 26-20, with one Republican joining Democrats in opposition. The bill was then sent to the House for a concurrence vote but was instead referred to the House Rules Committee, which means action could be taken on the bill when the legislature reconvenes in January 2022. HB 118 changes the election method for the six Buncombe County Board of Education members that run from districts. Instead of being elected by voters from across Buncombe County, board members would only be elected by voters residing in their districts. HB 118 lists out requirements for the board in establishing and revising electoral districts. Click here for an official bill summary.

Bill Chart

Click here for a chart of all education-related bills that NCBSA is tracking.

 

On Tuesday, the NC Court of Appeals denied Superior Court Judge David Lee’s order for the transfer of over $1.7 billion from the unappropriated balance in the General Fund to fund the Leandro Comprehensive Remedial Plan. The three-judge panel ruled 2-1. According to the majority opinion, “‘the State must honor that judgement. But it is now up to the legislative and executive branches, in the discharge of their constitutional duties, to do so. The Separation of Powers Clause prevents the courts from stepping into the shoes of the other branches of government and assuming their constitutional duties. We have pronounced our judgement. If the other branches of government still ignore it, the remedy lies not with the courts, but at the ballot box.’”

This Court of Appeals decision follows State Controller Linda Comb’s request that the Court of Appeals either vacate Judge Lee’s order or prohibit Judge Lee from compelling her to perform any action required by the order. Click here for an article that provides more detail on the Court of Appeals decision and click here for an article that provides more detail on the State Controller’s request.

 

The State Board of Education met for its monthly meeting on Wednesday, December 1, and Thursday, December 2. During the meeting, the Board recognized Local Board of Education Advisor Brenda Stephens of Orange County for her service during the past year.

Additionally, the Board was presented with the following:

State budget review: DPI staff presented a summary of education-related sections of the recently signed State budget. Major points include an average 2.5% salary increase in each year of the biennium for teachers and most instructional support personnel and additional funding for school capital. The following are DPI budget resources:

COVID/ESSER/GEER expenditure update: In addition to a State budget review, Board members were also presented with an update on expended federal COVID relief funds. This chart organizes the funds by program and includes expiration dates, expenditures by fiscal year, and dollar amount and percentage of unexpended funds.

NC Standard Course of Study Internal Procedures Manual: Earlier this year, State Superintendent Catherine Truitt expressed concern about the development of the NC Standard Course of Study (NCSCOS) when the Board was in the process of approving new K-12 social studies standards. During this month’s meeting, DPI followed up by presenting the draft NCSCOS Internal Procedures Manual, which provides a consistent approach in the development of standards. While DPI had previously created and updated an internal procedures manual, Superintendent Truitt said that it is important to make this process more public and coherent. Next steps include finalizing the draft NCSCOS Internal Procedures Manual, seeking stakeholder feedback, and deploying a Needs Assessment to inform the External Implementation Guide.

Click here to access all meeting materials.

 

As of December 1, 31 school districts allow masks to be optional (one has a pending effective date) and eight districts allow masks to be optional with certain stipulations (see map below for more information). This leaves 76 school districts that continue to require masks for all students and staff. The number of districts with mask mandates has decreased by one since Friday, November 19.

NCSBA continues to track local school boards’ policies on school mask requirements as districts vote monthly on whether to modify their current policy (required by Section 10 of SB 654/SL 2021-130). Click here to access a chart of school board actions. If your school district changes its mask policy or you have corrections to the chart, please email information to Richard Bostic at rbostic@ncsba.org.

 

The Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations, Subcommittee on Use and Distribution of Federal COVID Funding will meet at 9:00 am on both Tuesday, December 7, (live stream) and Wednesday, December 8 (live stream).

Since legislative action is not expected in the next few weeks, we will not be sending out weekly legislative updates. However, if there is a need to relay important education-related information, we will make sure you receive it.

An updated version of NCSBA’s 2021 Legislative Summary, which will include summaries of every education-related State budget provision, will be shared in the next week or two.

 

 

 

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.org

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
rbostic@ncsba.org

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
rhoward@ncsba.org

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – December 3, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – November 19, 2021

 

State Budget

After months of waiting, we finally have a State budget, SB 105: 2021 Appropriations Act/SL 2021-180. On Monday, a conference budget report was released, followed by bipartisan passage in the Senate (41-7) and the House (101-10). The budget was then quickly signed into law by the governor on Thursday afternoon.

This State budget enacts an average 5% raise over the biennium for teachers and most school employees and also provides bonuses. Noncertified school employees will receive a $13/hour minimum wage in the 2021-2022 fiscal year and a $15/hour minimum wage in the 2022-2023 fiscal year. There is an ADM hold harmless provision for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, as well as the creation of the new Public School Building Repair and Renovation Fund that will benefit all school districts. For more information on education-related provisions included in the State budget, click here to access NCSBA’s summaries.

The release and approval of this State budget follows roughly three months of conference committee negotiations, which included almost two months of private negotiations between Republican legislative leaders and Democratic Governor Roy Cooper. Despite a budget agreement not being reached with the governor, when announcing that he would sign the budget into law, Governor Cooper explained that it is because the good outweighs the bad. Following his signing of the budget, the governor stated, “I will continue to fight for progress where this budget falls short but believe that, on balance, it is an important step in the right direction.”

The total General Fund allocation is:

  • $25.9 billion in FY 2021-2022 (4.3% increase)
  • $27 billion in FY 2022-2023 (4.1% increase from FY 2021-2022)

For K-12 public education, the conference budget report appropriates:

  • $10.6 billion in FY 2021-2022 (5.9% increase)
  • $10.9 billion in FY 2022-2023 (3.1% increase from FY 2021-2022)

Click here for NCSBA’s summaries of the budget’s education provisions.
Click here for NCSBA’s summary of the budget’s education appropriations.
Click here for the budget bill.
Click here for the budget money report.

The Governmental Relations Team is working on a more in-depth summary of every education-related budget provision, which we will share with you in the coming weeks. Click here and here for articles on the budget.

HB 91: Accountability and Fair Play in Athletics

A conference report for HB 91: Accountability and Fair Play in Athletics passed the Senate (41-7) and the House (71-43) and has been sent to the Governor. This bill requires the State Board of Education (SBE) to either enter into a memorandum of understanding with a nonprofit to administer high school interscholastic athletics (which could be the NC High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) but is not required to be) or assign administration to DPI. The conference report removed multiple sections that were in the previous version of the bill, including a requirement that public school units (PSUs) submit an annual interscholastic athletic report and restrictions on enrollments and transfers.

Authors of the bill (Senators Vickie Sawyer, R-Iredell; Todd Johnson, R-Union; and Tom McInnis, R-Richmond) say that HB 91 is a result of an ongoing investigation into the NCHSAA over the past two years concerning lack of transparency. The presentation and passage of this conference report follows meetings between representatives of the NCHSAA, the SBE, Governor Cooper, and legislators from both parties. Additionally, the NCHSAA did not express opposition to the passage of HB 91.

Bill Chart

Click here for a chart of all education-related bills that NCBSA is tracking.

 

On Wednesday, November 10, Superior Court Judge David Lee held a hearing on the Leandro case and ordered the transfer of over $1.7 billion from the unappropriated balance in the General Fund to fund the Leandro Comprehensive Remedial Plan. This order follows the plaintiffs’ November 1st request that Judge Lee order this fund transfer and the defendants’ November 8th response that confirmed the availability of the funds. (Note: Defendants are represented by Attorney General Josh Stein’s office.)

Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore released a joint statement saying “This case has devolved into an attempt by politically allied lawyers and the Governor to enact the Governor’s preferred budget plan via court order, cutting out the legislature from its proper and constitutional role.” Click here and here for articles on the hearing, lawmakers’ responses, and what future action might be taken. Click here for a chart from NC Policy Watch that outlines how the State budget aligns with the Leandro Plan.

 

There have been many changes to local school boards’ mask policies over the past two weeks. 31 school districts allow masks to be optional (four have pending effective dates) and seven districts allow masks to be optional with certain stipulations (see map below for more information). This leaves 77 school districts that continue to require masks. For comparison, two weeks ago, 20 districts allowed masks to be optional, two districts had optional policies with certain stipulations, and 93 districts had mask mandates.

NCSBA continues to track local school boards’ policies on school mask requirements as districts vote monthly on whether to modify their current policy (required by Section 10 of SB 654/SL 2021-130). Click here to access a chart of school board actions. If your school district changes its mask policy or you have corrections to the chart, please email information to Richard Bostic at rbostic@ncsba.org.

 

Last week at NCSBA’s Annual Conference, the Delegate Assembly voted to approve the 2022 NCSBA Legislative Agenda. This Agenda is an amended version of the 2021 NCSBA Legislative Agenda. Usually, NCSBA creates one legislative agenda for the two-year legislative session, but due to the unprecedented circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, NCSBA’s Legislative Committee decided it would be best to have the option to make modifications to the 2021 Agenda prior to the 2022 legislative session.

The 2022 Agenda includes a new section titled “Virtual Instruction”, new language on waivers and ADM hold harmless, and a few minor word changes. The following are the Agenda’s priorities:

  1. COVID-19
  2. Pandemic Learning Loss
  3. Virtual Instruction
  4. Accountability
  5. School Construction/Capital
  6. School Safety
  7. Recruiting and Retaining Top Talent
  8. Early Learning
  9. Administrator Ethics Training
  10. Local Charter School Funding/Relations

Click here to access the 2022 NCSBA Legislative Agenda.

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – November 19, 2021
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