Rebekah Howard

NCSBA Legislative Update – August 13, 2021

 

House Budget

We are about a month and a half into the new fiscal year, and the House just passed its version of the budget on a 72-41 vote. While there was plenty of discussion on amendments, many House members spent their time debating the budget bill as a whole, expressing praise or criticism for its contents. Republicans advocated for the budget’s large investments, including pay raises, bonuses (using some federal funds), and broadband expansion. Democrats, while acknowledging the good that the budget does, criticized it as not doing enough. Additionally, Democrats criticized the budget process and its lack of collaboration between political parties. Education-related complaints from Democrats included lack of funding for the Leandro plan (although Republicans claimed that many parts of the plan are incorporated into the budget) and numerous education policy provisions that came from existing Republican-sponsored bills. Click here for an article on the House budget discussion and passage. NCSBA has provided summaries of House budget education provisions and appropriations.

The total House budget General Fund allocation is:

  • $25.7 billion in FY 2021-2022 (3.6% increase)
  • $26.7 billion in FY 2022-2023 (7.3% increase)

For K-12 public education, the House budget appropriates:

  • $10.6 billion in FY 2021-2022 (5.8% increase)
  • $10.7 billion in FY 2021-2022 (7.3% increase)

Click here for NCSBA’s summaries of House budget education provisions.

Click here for NCSBA’s summary of House budget education appropriations.

Click here for NCSBA’s comparison of House and Senate budget education appropriations.

Click here for the House budget bill.

Click here for the House budget money report.

Next week, the House and Senate are expected to name conferees and begin the budget negotiation process, which House Speaker Tim Moore said will include collaboration with the Governor’s office. Once a budget compromise is reached, it will then need to pass both chambers before being sent to the Governor for approval.

As we mentioned in an email alert earlier this week, an amendment to the House budget replaced the provision on school nutrition programs that would require three months’ operating balance and cap the rate at 8% with a report on school nutrition programs. NCSBA wants to thank each school board member, superintendent, and finance officer who contacted their House members to get that provision amended. While your efforts paid off in this round of the budget process, the original provision is likely to come up during negotiations. Stay tuned…

Education-Related Bills with Action This Week

A Conference Committee has been appointed for HB 64: Government Transparency Act of 2021. This bill requires local boards of education (as well as counties, municipalities, community colleges, State agencies, etc.) to not only maintain the date and general description of the reasons for each promotion, but also for each demotion, transfer, suspension, separation, or dismissal. An employee can appeal to not have the date and description of their promotion, demotion, etc. disclosed if the information is protected by an applicable confidentiality law, like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or the American with Disabilities Act. We urge school board members and superintendents to contact conferees with concerns about HB 64Click here for an official bill summary.

The House voted 108-6 to adopt the Conference Committee Report for HB 84: Sex Offender Premises Restrictions (primary sponsors: Representatives Harry Warren, R-Rowan; Allen McNeill, R-Randolph; Dennis Riddell, R-Alamance; Sarah Stevens, R-Surry), which does the following:

  • Extends premise restrictions for sex offenders to include those convicted of sexual exploitation of a minor
  • Clarifies that a registered sex offender is prohibited from knowingly residing within 1,000 feet of any property line on which a school or childcare center is located (language from SB 52)

The next step is Senate approval of the HB 84 Conference Committee Report, then it will be sent to the Governor.

 

NCSBA has created a chart tracking local school boards’ policies/resolutions on school mask requirements. Click here to access the chart. As your school district finalizes its plans for this upcoming school year, please email information to Richard Bostic at rbostic@ncsba.org, as well as any corrections to the chart.

 

 

 

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 – August 13, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – August 6, 2021

 

House Education Budget

The headliner from the General Assembly this week comes from the lower chamber. On Thursday, the House publicly released part of its State budget proposal. We will have to wait until Monday to learn about salary increases and some other big-ticket items. However, the House Education Appropriations Committee released 233 pages of education provisions. The following are some of the provisions that the Committee voted to approve:

  • Allow LEAs to offer virtual instruction
  • Provide a bit of flexibility for single-track year-round schools
  • Increase funding for broadband access for K-12 schools
  • Create a new Public School Building Repair and Renovation Fund that provides $500,000 annually to each county

Pretty good, right? Unfortunately, there are plenty of bad provisions as well. We have provided brief summaries for the good, the bad, and the ugly. More than a dozen of the provisions come from bills that we have previously written about.

As for the rest of the budget timeline, the House will release its full budget on Monday, August 9. The House Finance Committee will be reviewing the budget on Monday, and the full House Appropriations Committee plans to hold an all-day meeting on Tuesday. Floor votes are expected next Wednesday and Thursday. Then negotiations on a House/Senate budget compromise will begin in earnest. The Governor could possibly receive a budget around Labor Day.

Be sure to contact your House member and let them know which provisions you support and which ones are cause for concern. In our summary that is linked below, we put an * next to the provisions that we believe could have a negative impact on.

  • Click here for NCSBA’s summaries of many of the House budget education provisions
  • Click here for the House budget education provisions
  • Click here for the House budget education money report
  • Click here for an article on the House budget education provisions

Education-Related Bills with Action This Week

Statewide Bills

HB 729: Charter Schools Omnibus (primary sponsors: Representatives Larry Yarborough, R-Person; Jon Hardister, R-Guilford; John Bradford, R-Mecklenburg; Mark Brody, R-Union) was modified and approved by the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee and then approved by the Senate Rules Committee. NCSBA had several concerns with this bill, and we worked very closely with the NC Association of County Commissioners to have it amended. Ultimately, three of the four sections were removed, including a section that would authorize counties to provide capital funds to charter schools.

House conferees were appointed for HB 64: Government Transparency Act of 2021, but we are still waiting for Senate conferees to be named. This bill requires local boards of education (as well as counties, municipalities, community colleges, State agencies, etc.) to not only maintain the date and general description of the reasons for each promotion, but also for each demotion, transfer, suspension, separation, or dismissal. An employee can appeal to not have the date and description of their promotion, demotion, etc. disclosed if the information is protected by an applicable confidentiality law, like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or the American with Disabilities Act. We urge school board members and superintendents to contact House conferees with concerns about HB 64. Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 96: Allow Pharmacists to Admin. Injectable Drugs (primary sponsors: Representatives Wayne Sasser, R-Stanly; Mitchell Setzer, R-Catawba; Donna White, R-Johnston; Gale Adcock, D-Wake) passed the Senate, concurred in the House, and will be sent to the Governor. This bill includes a section that requires parental consent for children to receive vaccines granted emergency use authorization and not fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Local Bill

HB 244: Lincoln Co. Bd. of Ed./Partisan Election (primary sponsor: Representative Jason Saine, R-Lincoln) passed the Senate and was ratified into SL 2021-99. This bill changes the election method for the Lincoln County Board of Education from nonpartisan to partisan.

 

NCSBA has created a chart tracking local school boards’ policies/resolutions on school mask requirements. Click here to access the chart. As your school district finalizes its plans for this upcoming school year, please email information to Richard Bostic at rbostic@ncsba.org, as well as any corrections to the chart.

 

The Board met for its monthly meeting this week and heard presentations on the following:

DHHS COVID-19 update: The Board was presented with COVID-19 data trends, which show that cases are rapidly increasing, the number of people being hospitalized has doubled since July 9, and the Delta variant is the most common variant in NC. Key changes to the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit were also presented:

  • Strongly advises all K-12 schools to require all students and staff to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status
  • Says that students do not need to quarantine if exposed as a close contact in K-12 settings if (i) both students consistently and correctly wore face masks at the time of exposure and (ii) other K-12 prevention strategies were in place
    • This does not apply to teachers, staff, or other adults
  • Removes numerous requirements, including:
    • Conduct daily symptom screening
    • Provide remote learning options for students unable to be at school due to illness or exposure
  • Adds information on offering and promoting the COVID-19 vaccine

The Board voted 9-2 to approve the revised Toolkit. Jill Camnitz and James Ford were the two
“no” votes, with Ford explaining that he cannot approve the Toolkit because it does not require masks in schools.

Read to Achieve contract and policy amendments: The Board was presented with amendments to its Read to Achieve (RtA) policy, based on SB 387: Excellent Public Schools Act of 2021/SL 2021-8. The policy amendments provide a RtA implementation guide for school districts, including a science of reading overview, educator preparation and professional development, and literacy curriculum and instruction. The Board approved sections I, II, III, and IX of the implementation guide, which can be found in this document. The remaining sections will be presented for approval as they are developed. The Board was also presented with a three-year $49.7 million contract with Voyager Sopris Learning, Inc., to provide Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) training to teachers. Since the contract process is not yet complete, the Board will have a called meeting to approve the contract.

ESSER III plan update: The Board was presented with an update on the State’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III (ESSER III) plan that was submitted to the U.S. Department of Education (Department) in June. As a reminder, NC has received two-thirds of its $3.6 billion in ESSER III funds, with the last third being subject to an application process. Since the State’s first submission of its ESSER III plan, it has received two sets of feedback from the Department about necessary revisions to the plan. Click here to read about DPI’s revisions and next steps. DPI staff stated that NC is not an outlier in this approval process, as only 17 states have received the Department’s approval so far.

Draft NC Standard Course of Study Procedures Manual: At July’s Board meeting, State Superintendent Catherine Truitt expressed concern about the development of the NC Standard Course of Study (NCSCOS) and told the Board that she would present proposed changes to the process at this month’s meeting. The Board was presented with a historical overview of the Procedures Manual used to develop the NCSCOS, an update on the draft Manual, and issues with the Manual. Board members agreed that many school districts lack substantial resources needed to create curricula from the NCSCOS. Superintendent Truitt recommended that until there are equitable resources in districts, DPI should help districts understand how to develop curricula and provide optional materials. Following Board discussion, the Board approved DPI’s request to complete the draft Manual that will ensure consistent, coherent, and equitable standards for teachers.

Click here for an article on the meeting.

Click here to access all meeting materials.

 

This week the U.S. Department of Education released its Return to School Roadmap, which supports the safe, healthy return of students to in-person learning this fall.

  • fact sheet for schools, families, and communities that reviews the Return to School Roadmap priorities
  • guide for schools and districts that outlines what schools can do to protect the health and safety of students
  • checklist that parents can use to prepare themselves and their children for a safe return to in-person learning this fall

 

Monday, August 9

2:30 pm – House Finance – Legislative Offices Building, rm 643 (live stream)

Tuesday, August 10

9:00 am – House Appropriations – Legislative Offices Building, rm 643 (live stream)

Wednesday, August 11

8:30 am – House Pensions and Retirement – Legislative Offices Building, rm 415 (live stream)

 

 

 

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 – August 6, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – July 30, 2021

 

On Tuesday, the CDC updated its mask recommendations for schools: “CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status. Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with proper prevention strategies in place.” This updated guidance comes as North Carolina and the country see a rise in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant.

DHHS updated its StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit to align with the new CDC guidance. The Toolkit now says that K-12 schools should require all students and staff to wear masks consistently when indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

Governor Cooper’s executive order that includes a statewide school mask mandate expires today, meaning that local school boards will decide mask requirements for their districts. During a Thursday press conference, the Governor strongly recommended that local school districts consider the updated CDC and DHHS guidance, as well as statewide data showing an increase in COVID-19 cases, when deciding on mask requirements. Click here for an article on the updated school mask guidance.

 

NCSBA has created a chart tracking local school boards’ policies/resolutions on school mask requirements. Click here to access the chart. As your school district finalizes its plans for this upcoming school year, please email information to Richard Bostic at rbostic@ncsba.org, as well as any corrections to the chart.

 

The legislature will resume voting sessions and committee meetings next week. (This week the Senate did not hold any voting session and the House held one voting session on Monday night.) As of 11:00 am on Friday, July 30, no education-related meetings were scheduled.

Additional Education-Related Meeting

The State Board of Education will have its monthly meeting on Wednesday, August 4, and Thursday, August 5.

 

 

 

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 – July 30, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – July 23, 2021

 

On Wednesday, DHHS updated the StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit based on updated CDC guidance and guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The following are updated mask recommendations for NC K-12 schools:

  • Elementary and middle schools should require all students and staff to wear masks indoors
  • High schools should require all unvaccinated students and staff to wear masks indoors

Additionally, Governor Roy Cooper announced that Executive Order 220, which requires masks to be worn in schools, will expire at the end of July. This means that mask requirements in schools will now be decided by local school boards. It is unclear what impact the updated DHHS guidance and the expiring of E.O. 220 will have on SB 173: Free the Smiles Act, which, if passed, would require local school boards that have adopted a mask mandate policy to vote at least once a month on whether to repeal or modify the policy. (As a reminder, only people age 12 and older can currently receive the COVID-19 vaccine.)

The Toolkit still recommends requiring everyone on school buses to wear a mask. In addition to the modified mask guidance, the Toolkit is now organized into categories that prioritize the implementation of strategies proven to be most effective in lowering the risk of COVID-19 exposure and spread. Click here for an article on the updated DHHS guidance.

 

Athletics Bill

On Wednesday, a new public school athletics bill, HB 91: Accountability and Fair Play in Athletics, was approved by the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee. The bill, as presented, would have allowed home school students to participate in athletics at the student’s base school. But prior to the Committee vote, an amendment was adopted that replaced that provision with a study on the implications of home school students’ participation in interscholastic athletics. We would like to thank school board members and superintendents who contacted Senate Education Committee members with concerns about this provision. Your efforts played a role in making this substantial change to HB 91. We would also like to thank Senators Todd Johnson, Tom McInnis, and Vickie Sawyer for bringing forth the amendment.

HB 91 was also approved by the Senate Finance Committee, following the removal of a section that allowed needs-based public school capital fund grants to be used for athletic facilities. The main objective of HB 91 is to replace the NC High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) with a new 17-member NC Interscholastic Athletic Commission. Bill presenters explained that they have been investigating NCHSAA for 22 months, including two meetings of the Joint Legislative Committee on Governmental Operations Subcommittee on Interscholastic Athletics earlier this year. These meetings included questioning of NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker on the Association’s total assets of more than $40 million and its service to its member schools. Click here for an article on the bill, Committee discussion, and the NCHSAA’s response. Click here for an official bill summary.

Parental Consent for Vaccines

Last week we reported on a potential conference committee report for SB 173: Free the Smiles Act, that would add a section requiring parental consent for children to receive vaccines granted emergency use authorization and not fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. That section has been added to HB 96: Allow Pharmacists to Admin. Injectable Drugs (primary sponsors: Representatives Wayne Sasser, R-Stanly; Mitchell Setzer, R-Catawba; Donna White, R-Johnston; Gale Adcock, D-Wake), which was approved by two Senate committees this week.

Nondiscrimination in Schools Bill

According to a news source, Senate Leader Phil Berger said that HB 324: Ensuring Dignity & Nondiscrimination/Schools will be heard in the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee in the first week of August. As a reminder, many Republican legislators who oppose Critical Race Theory say that HB 324 would prevent indoctrination in schools, while some Democratic legislators say that it would lead to censorship and limited student engagement when learning about U.S. history. Click here for a previous Legislative Update that includes a summary of the bill and legislator discussion (under Senate Education/Higher Education Committee Meeting).

Local Bill

HB 244: Lincoln Co. Bd. of Ed./Partisan Election (primary sponsor: Representative Jason Saine, R-Lincoln) was approved by the Senate Rules Committee and will be scheduled for a Senate floor vote.

Bill Chart

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

 

In the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System (TSERS) Association Roundtable meeting today, State Treasurer staff asked NCSBA to remind LEAs of their responsibility to report the hiring of certain retirees for their summer school programs to TSERS. Section 1.3 of HB 82: Summer Learning Choice for NC Families permits TSERS retirees to have only one month separation of service, rather than six months, if employed in a “school extension learning recovery and enrichment program”. However, LEAs must certify to TSERS that a beneficiary is employed in this capacity by the local board of education. If TSERS is not notified and they find a retiree working before the six-month separation of service period ends, that retiree could have their retirement benefits suspended. Although this has not happened yet, State Treasurer staff wanted to bring this to the attention of LEAs.

 

The Senate will not hold any voting sessions next week and the House will only hold voting sessions on Monday and Tuesday. This is due to a number of legislators attending the annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council on July 28-30. This three-day absence of the House comes as we continue to wait for the release of its proposed budget, which House Speaker Tim Moore said we may not see until the second week of August.

 

 

 

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 – July 23, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – July 16, 2021

 

Senator Berger Press Conference

On Wednesday, Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, held a press conference addressing discrimination and indoctrination in school curriculum. He voiced opposition to critical race theory and called for a State constitutional amendment to be placed on the 2022 primary ballot that reaffirms the State’s commitment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Senate leader stated that he believes the “theology” of critical race theory is becoming more prevalent in the State and noted the importance of the Lieutenant Governor’s F.A.C.T.S. Task Force (Fairness and Accountability in the Classroom for Teachers and Students), which allows “the voices of concerned citizens to be heard regarding public K-12 education in North Carolina.”

Senate Education/Higher Education Committee Meeting

Much of what Senator Berger stated in his press conference was echoed in his presentation of HB 324: Ensuring Dignity & Nondiscrimination/Schools to the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee. The Senate’s proposed committee substitute (PCS) of the bill was presented for discussion only. The PCS modifies the definition of promote as “compelling students, teachers, administrators, or other school employees to affirm…the concepts described” and provides six additional concepts that are prohibited from being promoted in public schools. The list of prohibited concepts now totals 13 and includes:

  • One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex
  • An individual should feel guilt because of his/her race or sex and responsibility for past actions of members of his/her race or sex
  • The U.S. was created for the purpose of oppressing members of a race or sex
  • Rule of law does not exist, but instead a series of power struggles among racial or other groups

The PCS also requires public school units (PSUs) to notify DPI and post to their website information about:

  • Instruction regarding the concepts
  • Contracting with or hiring of speakers or trainers for the purpose of discussing the concepts or who have advocated for the concepts

Senator Berger emphasized that teachers are still allowed to discuss and explore the concepts but are prohibited from promoting the concepts. Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson voiced his support for the bill to the Committee and said that his F.A.C.T.S. Task Force will be releasing some of its findings of indoctrination in K-12 public school classrooms within the next week. Committee discussion mostly consisted of Democrats questioning the reason for the bill, how the bill will be applied in classrooms, and voicing concerns that the bill would lead to censorship and limited student engagement when learning about the country’s history. It was not clear when HB 324 will be brought back before the Committee for a vote, but Senator Berger said that he does not expect it to happen in the next week. Click here for an article on Senate PCS changes to HB 324 and Committee discussion.

School Masks Bill

A Conference Committee was appointed for SB 173: Free the Smiles Act, which allows local school boards to determine the use of face masks for the 2021-2022 school year. It also permits the Governor to require masks for individual schools to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 but does not permit a statewide mask mandate for all schools.

NCSBA has been notified of a potential conference committee report to SB 173 that would add a section requiring parental consent for children to receive vaccines granted emergency use authorization and not fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (This report has not yet been publicly presented.) A specific concern to note about SB 173 is the short amount of time that local school boards could have to adhere to the requirement to vote on policy requiring mandatory masks in schools no later than August 1, 2021.

House Budget

According to a news source, House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said that the House budget proposal is taking longer than expected. The House is hoping to release its proposal by the end of the month, but we might not see it until the first week of August. Speaker Moore references “a lot of money, and a lot of needs” as a reason for the delay, referring to federal COVID-19 funds and numerous project requests.

Public Meetings Bill

HB 812: Clarify Remote Meetings During Emergencies/SL 2021-35 (primary sponsors: Representatives Dean Arp, R-Union; Bobby Hanig, R-Currituck; Erin Pare, R-Wake; William Richardson, D-Cumberland) took effect on July 1, and we wanted to provide our members with an informative analysis by the UNC School of Government on how remote meeting laws will change when the statewide state of emergency is lifted.

Additional Bills in Conference

A Conference Committee was appointed for SB 450: Various Education Changes (primary sponsors: Senators Michael Lee, R-New Hanover; Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Lisa Barnes, R-Nash), which requires the SBE to study the installation of carbon monoxide alarms and detection systems in existing public school buildings. The bill also includes provisions affecting charter and private schools.

A Conference Committee was appointed for HB 84: Sex Offender Premises Restrictions (primary sponsors: Representatives Harry Warren, R-Rowan; Allen McNeill, R-Randolph; Dennis Riddell, R-Alamance; Sarah Stevens, R-Surry), which extends premise restrictions for sex offenders to include those convicted of sexual exploitation of a minor.

Bill Chart

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

 

Revisions to State Spending Plan

The US Department of Education told NC that it needs to revise its spending plan for federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III (ESSER III) funds. DPI received an email explaining the 10 revisions needed for the State to receive its remaining ESSER III funding. Click here for an article that includes a copy of the email.

FAQ for Full-Service Community Schools

The US Department of Education released a FAQ for using ESSER III funds to support full-service community schools and related strategies. Click here for the FAQ and click here for the ESSER III resources webpage.

 

 

 

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 – July 16, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – July 9, 2021

 

The SBE met for its monthly meeting on Thursday and heard presentations on the following:

K-12 social studies 6-12 unpacking documents: The Board voted 6-5 to approve the K-12 social studies unpacking documents for grades 6-12, which enhance teacher understanding of how to engage students with the standards. This follows the Board’s approval of other K-12 social studies supporting documents last month, and the vote was again split along party lines. Although this was the Board’s last step in a process that has taken several years, the results of a recent report from the Fordham Institute proved to be cause for concern to State Superintendent Catherine Truitt. According to the national report by the conservative-leaning education think tank, NC received an “Inadequate” overall rating for its civics and US history courses. DPI staff explained that NC has continually received low scores on this report because the State’s social studies standards are conceptual (meaning they are general/broad concepts rather than specific standards/statements of essential knowledge), and the Institute does not review the State’s supporting documents along with the standards.

Although the approved social studies standards will go into effect in the 2021-2022 school year, Board Chair Eric Davis stated that in August the Superintendent will present the Board with proposed changes of how to develop social studies standards, which could lead to revisions of the current standards. Click here for an article of this discussion. The following are links to each 6-12 unpacking document:

DHHS COVID-19 update: DHHS staff reported that at least 25% of children ages 12-17 have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This vaccination rate, the ABC Science Collaborative’s report on the effectiveness of masking in schools, and updated CDC guidance are new factors that DHHS staff is considering as they revise the StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit. Board members were also presented with information about a COVID-19 screening testing program for K-12 schools. The federally funded program allows for screening testing, as well as temporary staffing support like registered nurses or other clinical personnel. School districts that want to opt-in to the program for the 2021-2022 school year must complete the opt-in form by September 13. The opt-in form and guidance on testing responsibilities will be released this month and distributed to superintendents and school health administrators. For more information on the testing program, see slides 11-15 of this presentation.

ESSER III budget comparison: The Board was presented with budget comparison charts of the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III (ESSER III) funding 10% DPI reserve. Click here to view the charts on slides 9-11 that compare DPI/SBE’s budget recommendations with the House and Senate’s distribution plans.

Summer learning update: The Board received a presentation on the implementation of HB 82: Summer Learning Choice for NC Families/SL 2021-7 that includes notable findings on slides 3-6 of this presentation.

Click here to access all meeting materials.

 

The legislature took a holiday break this week and will resume session and committee meetings next week.

Education Bills Signed into Law

SB 668: Anti-Pension Spiking Amds & Litig. Moratorium (primary sponsor: Senator Jim Burgin, R-Harnett) was signed into SL 2021-72. This bill does the following:

  • Adds another payment option: 12 years with no early pay-off penalty
  • In certain situations, two or more employers will share the liability
  • Creates a working group consisting of NCSBA, the State Treasurer’s office, and other organizations to develop recommendations to the General Assembly that will reduce the number of pension spiking cases and lawsuits
  • Requires a pause on pension-spiking litigation until June 30, 2022, during which the working group will create its recommendations
    • As a result of this pause, the statute of limitations will be extended
    • During this pause, the Treasurer’s office is not allowed to intercept funds that would have otherwise been directed to a LEA

Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 335: Timely Local Payments to Charter Schools (primary sponsors: Representatives John Bradford, R-Mecklenburg; Dennis Riddell, R-Alamance; Jon Hardister, R-Guilford; Jason Saine, R-Lincoln) was signed into SL 2021-79. This bill does the following:

  • Requires the 30-day clock for a LEA to submit payment to a charter school to begin after the LEA is in receipt of both a charter school invoice and the monies from the county into the local current expense fund (originally the 30-day clock started after the LEA received a charter school invoice)
  • Requires a LEA to submit payment to a charter school for the undisputed amount within the 30-day period
  • Requires a LEA to pay a 3%late fee and 8% annual interest if the following occur:
    • A charter school provides written notice to the LEA’s superintendent and school finance officer after the 30-day period stating that the payment was not received
    • Electronic payment is not transferred within 15 days of that notice, or if mailed, not postmarked within 15 days of that notice (originally the bill included an 8% late fee on day 31)
    • If a LEA disputes payment for any student whose information submitted by a charter school is incorrect, late fees and interest are not applied to the payment for that student
  • Requires the State Superintendent, in consultation with LEAs and charter schools, to create:
    • A standardized enrollment verification and transfer request document used by charter schools to request the per pupil share of the local current expense fund
    • A standardized procedure that LEAs must use when transferring the per pupil share of the local current expense fund

Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 602: UNC Legislative Priorities/HR/Reports (primary sponsors: Representatives Jon Hardister, R-Guilford; Ray Pickett, R-Watauga; Dean Arp, R-Union; Kandie Smith, D-Pitt) was signed into SL 2021-80. Section 2.4 requires reporting by the Community Colleges System on the UNC-NCCCS 2+2 E-Learning Initiative, including the total number of teachers in each LEA that have taken part in the Initiative and qualitative data on the Initiative’s impact on students, teachers, and personnel. Click here for an official bill summary.

Bill Chart

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

 

This morning the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated guidance for K-12 schools to safely return to in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year. Although COVID-19 vaccinations are available for children ages 12-17, most students will be unvaccinated, and the updated guidance emphasizes the importance of mask-wearing in schools for students and staff who are not fully vaccinated. The CDC continues to recommend using layered prevention strategies (physical distancing, screening testing, etc.)  and local monitoring of transmission, vaccinations, testing, and outbreaks to guide decision-making.

 

This week the US Department of Education announced $600 million in additional American Rescue Plan funding for students experiencing homelessness. Click here for the press release and click here for grant information, including the application.

 

 

 

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 – July 9, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – July 2, 2021

 

School Masks Bill

SB 173: Free the Smiles Act, which was gutted and rewritten by the House, failed concurrence in the Senate, and a conference committee will likely be appointed. This bill allows local school boards to determine the use of face masks for the 2021-2022 school year. It also permits the Governor to require masks for individual schools to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 but does not permit a statewide mask mandate for all schools. Before the concurrence vote failed on the Senate floor, Senator Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth, indicated that the Senate is not opposed to the bill but would like to make some changes before sending it to the Governor. It is unclear what those changes are. Additionally, this week the ABC Science Collaborative released reports on COVID-19 transmission and the use of masks in schools. For more information on those reports, see that section below. Click here for an official bill summary.

House Budget

The House Appropriations Committee on Education met on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the Senate budget’s education sections. Committee members and guests expressed concerns about various issues, including needing higher teacher pay, improving educator preparation programs (EPPs), enforcing that each LEA employ a school psychologist, providing additional resources for low-income schools, and increasing noncertified school personnel pay to $15/hour. Additionally, Bruce Mildwurf, NCSBA Director of Governmental Relations, shared NCSBA’s thoughts on the Senate budget, including:

  • The lack of school construction funds
  • The need to increase the number of K-3 teacher assistants (TAs), at least until students recover from learning loss due to COVID-19
  • Support for the average daily membership (ADM) hold harmless and ADM reserve
  • Support for phasing out the Innovative School District (ISD)

Committee Chair Representative John Torbett, R-Gaston, stated that the House will do a lot of work on the budget during the weeks of July 12th and 19th, following the legislature’s break for July 4th next week. We are fairly confident that there will not be a budget sent to the Governor until at least August.

The push for grade level reading by the end of third grade has made increasing the number of TAs in early grades a top priority for local school boards during this legislative session. Taking into account the COVID-19 pandemic, rising second graders have not yet spent a full year in a school building. If this is a top priority for your district, we urge you to contact your House members by July 15th.

Additional Education-Related Bills with Action This Week

HB 159: Education Law Changes (primary sponsors: Representatives John Torbett, R-Gaston; Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke) was modified and approved by the Senate Finance Committee and referred to the Senate Appropriations/Base Budget Committee. The new version of the bill deletes the section on school nutrition programs’ operating balance and replaces it with a report on school nutrition programs. Senator Michael Lee, R-New Hanover, sponsored the amendment and said that he felt more information was needed on the funds, balances, costs, etc. of school nutrition programs before the Senate agrees to such a controversial change. During a prior committee meeting, NCSBA requested that the section be removed from the bill and referred to it as an unfunded mandate. Even though the section was removed, DPI and other advocacy groups are determined to have the section put back into the bill, meaning that the issue is far from over. HB 159 still has a few more committees to go through, as well as a Senate floor vote and a concurrence vote in the House.

HB 159 also does the following:

  • Allows LEAs to use a payroll deduction plan to pay eligible school personnel in 12 monthly installments
  • Requires the State Board of Education to follow the rulemaking process (G.S.150B) when adopting course standards

Click here for an official bill summary.

SB 693: Expedite Child Safety and Permanency (primary sponsors: Senators Steve Jarvis, R-Davidson; Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth; Chuck Edwards, R-Henderson) was modified and approved by the House Judiciary 1 Committee and referred to the House Health Committee. Section 6 was added to the bill and requires public schools to provide students in grades 6-12 with information and resources on child abuse and neglect, including sexual abuse. The information and resources must be distributed to students in a document at the beginning of each school year, displayed on a poster, and include warning signs of abuse and how to report it. The bill does not appropriate funds for this mandate. This new section of SB 693 incorporates language from HB 205, which passed the House 119-0. Click here for an official bill summary.

SB 450: Various Education Changes (primary sponsors: Senators Michael Lee, R-New Hanover; Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Lisa Barnes, R-Nash) failed concurrence in the Senate, and a conference committee will likely be appointed. This bill requires the SBE to study the installation of carbon monoxide alarms and detection systems in existing public school buildings and includes additional provisions affecting nonpublic and charter schools. Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 812: Clarify Remote Meetings During Emergencies/SL 2021-35 (primary sponsors: Representatives Dean Arp, R-Union; Bobby Hanig, R-Currituck; Erin Pare, R-Wake; William Richardson, D-Cumberland) took effect on July 1, and we wanted to provide our members with an informative summary of the remote meeting law changes published by the UNC School of Government.

Bill Chart

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

 

This week the ABC Science Collaborative released two reports regarding the transmission of COVID-19 in NC’s public schools. One report focuses solely on NC data and the other report includes data from multiple states. Findings and data analysis include:

  • Plan A – full in-person instruction – is appropriate for all grades in all schools when masking is in place.
  • Masking is adequate to prevent within-school COVID-19 transmission, with no difference between schools requiring greater than 3 feet of distance between students compared to those requiring less than 3 feet. Distance did not predict infection.
  • Full-capacity bus transportation is appropriate, with up to three masked students per bus seat.
  • The State should consider eliminating quarantine for those appropriately masked or vaccinated.
  • Athletics, although safe in NC schools this past year, likely has a higher secondary attack rate than the within-classroom environment.

SB 220: The Reopen Our Schools Act of 2021/SL 2021-4 requires local school boards to partner with the Collaborative for the collection and analysis of this data. The release of these reports came on the same day that the Senate voted to not concur with a bill modified by the House that would allow local school boards to determine the use of face masks for the upcoming school year (SB 173).

 

Eligible schools can apply for financial support between June 29 and August 13 to purchase much needed devices like laptops, tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connectivity. This is part of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund that aims to serve unmet needs for off-campus use by students and school staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The Governor’s Commission on Access to Sound Basic Education met on Tuesday for the first time since January 2020. The Commission was created in July 2017 and consists of 19 members appointed by the Governor to develop recommendations on how the State can meet its constitutional obligation of providing every student access to a sound basic education. As a reminder of the work done on the Leandro case in recent years, see the timeline below.

The meeting consisted of:

Implementation of the Plan relies on action by the General Assembly, which was a point of discussion during the meeting. Commission members expressed interest in having a tracking system or dashboard that shows the progression of how the Plan’s recommendations are being implemented, which DPI staff confirmed is a current project of the SBE. Geoff Coltrane, Governor Cooper’s Senior Education Advisor, explained where the State is in addressing the Plan’s recommendations, including Teaching Fellows expansion, advanced teaching roles expansion, new principal preparation programs, school administrator preparation standards, assistance for low-performing schools and districts, and HB 946, which would fully implement the Plan’s legislative actions for the next two years. During the presentation on the Leandro impact analysis tool, this chart was shared to compare the Plan’s cost tables with appropriations in the Senate budget. While Republican leadership in the General Assembly has insisted that because of the constitutional separation of powers clause, the court cannot compel the legislature on how to spend State money, Senate education leaders say that several of their budget provisions address Leandro.

When asked what the current purpose of the Commission is, since it already released its recommendations in January 2020, Commission Chair Brad Wilson suggested that the Commission take on the role of advocating for the Plan’s recommendations and providing information on the Plan to local school districts. Although a future meeting date was not announced, Wilson told members to expect to meet again soon. Click here for the Commission’s webpage and click here for the meeting materials. Click here for an article on the meeting.

 

The legislature will not be meeting in committee or session next week.

Additional Education-Related Meeting

The State Board of Education has its monthly meeting on Thursday, July 8. (live stream)

 

 

 

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 – July 2, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – June 25, 2021

 

Senate Budget

We have reached another milestone in the State budget process: The Senate passed its version of the budget. Before the 32-17 vote, numerous amendments proposed by Democrats were dismissed by Republicans. Proposed amendments included an increase in school personnel pay (including teachers) and provisions supporting teachers and principals. Click here for an article on the proposed amendments. We have provided summaries of Senate budget education provisions and appropriations below.

The total proposed General Fund allocation is:

  • $25.7 billion in FY 2021-2022 (3.55% increase)
  • $26.6 billion in FY 2022-2023 (3.65% increase)

For K-12 public education, the Senate budget appropriates:

  • $10.4 billion in FY 2021-2022 (3.7% increase)
  • $10.5 billion in FY 2022-2023 (0.9% increase)

Click here for summaries of Senate budget education provisions.

Click here for a summary of Senate budget education appropriations.

Click here for the Senate budget bill.

Click here for the Senate budget money report.

Click here for DPI’s Senate budget summary and money report comparison.

Click here for an article on education sections of the Senate budget.

Next, the House will share its version of the State budget, followed by the House and Senate working towards a budget compromise. This compromise might not occur until August, after which the Governor will either sign, veto, or take no action and let the budget automatically become law. In a quote from his official Twitter account, Governor Roy Cooper said “The Senate budget mortgages the future health and education of our people to the corporations and wealthiest among us ($13B tax cut). Just awful. A measly 1.5% raise for teachers next year after no raise last year? Thank goodness the budget process has a long way to go.”

Education-Related Bills with Action This Week

Statewide Bills

SB 582: High School Adjunct Instructors/CC Prep (primary sponsors: Senators Jim Burgin, R-Harnett; Kevin Corbin, R-Macon) was signed into SL 2021-48. This bill allows higher education faculty members to qualify as adjunct instructors for K-12 core academic subjects, fine and performing arts, and foreign language courses if they meet State Board of Education (SBE) criteria (currently can only teach K-12 core academic subjects). It also allows an individual who holds a bachelor’s or graduate degree, attends a community college or educator preparation program, and completes at least one semester of teacher preparation to contract with a LEA to teach high-school level courses related to the individual’s specialized knowledge or work experience. Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 335: Timely Local Payments to Charter Schools (primary sponsors: Representatives John Bradford, R-Mecklenburg; Dennis Riddell, R-Alamance; Jon Hardister, R-Guilford; Jason Saine, R-Lincoln) unanimously passed the Senate, the House concurred with Senate changes, and was sent to the Governor. This bill requires the 30-day clock for a LEA to submit payment to a charter school to begin after the LEA is in receipt of both a charter school invoice and the monies from the county into the local current expense fund (originally the 30-day clock started after the LEA received a charter school invoice). Before passing the Senate, the following amendment was adopted on the floor:

  • Requires a LEA to pay a 3% (was 5%) late fee only if both of the following occur:
    • A charter school provides written notice to the LEA’s superintendent and school finance officer after the 30-day period stating that the payment was not received
    • Electronic payment is not transferred within 15 days of that notice, or if mailed, not postmarked within 15 days of that notice (originally the bill included an 8% late fee on day 31)

Additionally, HB 335 does the following:

  • Requires a LEA to submit payment to a charter school for the undisputed amount within the 30-day period
  • If a LEA disputes payment for any student whose information submitted by a charter school is incorrect, late fees or interest are not applied to the payment for that student
  • If the late fee is triggered, requires interest to accrue at a rate of 8% annually until the payment is received by the charter school
  • Requires the State Superintendent, in consultation with LEAs and charter schools, to create:
    • A standardized enrollment verification and transfer request document used by charter schools to request the per pupil share of the local current expense fund
    • A standardized procedure that LEAs must use when transferring the per pupil share of the local current expense fund

Click here for an official bill summary.

SB 668: Anti-Pension Spiking Amds & Litig. Moratorium (primary sponsor: Senator Jim Burgin, R-Harnett) unanimously concurred in the Senate and was sent to the Governor. This bill does the following:

  • Adds another payment option: 12 years with no early pay-off penalty
  • In certain situations, two or more employers will share the liability
  • Creates a working group consisting of NCSBA and the State Treasurer’s office to develop recommendations to the General Assembly that will reduce the number of pension spiking cases and lawsuits
  • Requires a pause on pension-spiking litigation until June 30, 2022, during which the working group will create its recommendations
    • As a result of this pause, the statute of limitations will be extended
    • During this pause, the Treasurer’s office is not allowed to intercept funds that would have otherwise been directed to a LEA

Click here for an official bill summary.

SB 173: Free the Smiles Act allows local school boards to determine the use of face masks for the 2021-2022 school year. It also permits the Governor to require masks for individual schools to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 but does not permit a statewide mask mandate for all schools. This bill originally dealt with an Occupational Therapy Interstate Compact but its contents were replaced in the House Education K-12 Committee and modified in the House Rules Committee. SB 173 passed the House 66-44 and was sent to the Senate for concurrence with House changes. Click here for an official bill summary.

SB 450: Various Education Changes (primary sponsors: Senators Michael Lee, R-New Hanover; Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Lisa Barnes, R-Nash) was modified and approved by the House Education K-12 Committee, approved by the House Rules Committee, passed the House 92-14, and was sent to the Senate for concurrence with House changes. This bill requires the SBE to study the installation of carbon monoxide alarms and detection systems in existing public school buildings, and includes additional provisions affecting nonpublic and charter schools. Click here for an official bill summary.

Local bill

SB 288: Rutherford College/Bd. of Ed. Burke/Caldwell (primary sponsor: Senator Warren Daniel, R-Burke) unanimously concurred in the Senate and became SL 2021-51. Click here for an official bill summary.

Bill Chart

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

 

Tuesday, June 29

8:30 am – House Appropriations, Education – Legislative Offices Building, rm 643 (live stream)

Additional Education-Related Meeting

Tuesday, June 29

1:00 pm – Commission on Access to Sound Basic Education – Department of Administration building, OSBM Commission Room 5010 (live stream)

  • Meeting agenda and materials will be available here by Monday, June 28

 

 

 

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 – June 25, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – June 18, 2021

 

State Revenue Forecast

An updated State revenue forecast released on Tuesday shows overcollections for this fiscal year ending on June 30 to be $1.91 billion greater than anticipated in February. Total revenue overcollections for the 2020-2021 fiscal year are now estimated at $6 billion. The June forecast also projects an additional $4.6 billion more revenue for the 2021-2023 fiscal biennium than was previously predicted in February. The joint forecast released by the Legislative Fiscal Research Division and the Office of State Budget and Management now expects a total of $60.4 billion over the next biennium, with $29.7 billion in fiscal year 2021-2022 and $30.7 billion in fiscal year 2022-2023. This surplus can be attributed to several factors, including:

  • Higher individual and corporate taxes collected by the State, as the economy continues to recover from COVID-19
  • A major economic boost from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (stimulus payments and unemployment payments to individuals and loans and grants to businesses)
  • $1 billion in tax payments were moved from the 2019-2020 fiscal year to the 2020-2021 fiscal year when the tax filing deadline was moved from April 2020 to July 2020

In a press release, Governor Roy Cooper explained that this new revenue forecast would cover his entire proposed budget and the Senate’s proposed tax cuts, even with some money left over. Senate leader Phil Berger released a statement saying that “A huge surplus does not mean we’re spending too little. It means we’re taxing too much.” House Speaker Tim Moore said in a press release that “North Carolina’s overall fiscal policy has set the stage for a commitment to conservative tax policies and we will continue to work collaboratively with the Governor and the Senate to keep our state on an upward trajectory of economic growth.”

These newly improved revenue numbers come as we are expecting to see the first version of the State budget from the Senate next week. According to a news source, the Senate plans to release its proposed budget on Monday, followed by committee hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday, and floor votes on Thursday and Friday. Then the House can be expected to release its own version of the budget in July, with a compromise budget being sent to the Governor in August. It is unknown if the legislature will adjust their agreed spending target based on this new revenue forecast.

Education-Related Bills with Action This Week

Statewide Bills

HB 159: Education Law Changes (primary sponsors: Representatives John Torbett, R-Gaston; Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke) was modified and approved by the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee and referred to the Senate Finance Committee. For several months NCSBA, the NC Association of School Business Officials, and the NC School Superintendents Association have expressed our concerns about Section 3, which prohibits public school units (PSUs) from getting reimbursed for costs incurred while operating and administering a school nutrition program, unless the program has a minimum of two month’s operating balance. (The original bill called for a minimum of three month’s operating balance, and current law calls for one month.) Section 3 also caps the rate at which PSUs can get reimbursed for these costs at 8% of a school nutrition program’s annual budget (the current average is around 14%). Costs incurred by PSUs include Human Resources functions, bookkeeping, insurance, space, electricity, and water.

Attempts were made to resolve this issue with DPI without the need for legislation, but unfortunately, we could not come to an agreement. During the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee meeting, NCSBA testified and called for the removal of Section 3 because we do not believe that it achieves the long-term goal of strengthening school nutrition programs, and it also creates an unfunded mandate. NCSBA will continue to work with legislators, DPI, and school administrators to improve the bill. Our goal is to create strong, sustainable school nutrition programs across the State, as we recognize how critical school nutrition is for student success.

Additionally, HB 159 does the following:

  • Allows LEAs to use a payroll deduction plan to pay eligible school personnel in 12 monthly installments
  • Requires the State Board of Education to follow the rulemaking process (S.150B) when adopting course standards

Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 335: Timely Local Payments to Charter Schools (primary sponsors: Representatives John Bradford, R-Mecklenburg; Dennis Riddell, R-Alamance; Jon Hardister, R-Guilford; Jason Saine, R-Lincoln) was modified (at NCSBA’s request) and approved by the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee and referred to the Senate Rules Committee. Changes to the bill include:

  • Adds date of charter enrollment, date of charter withdrawal, and district of residence to the list of student information that a charter school is required to submit to a LEA
  • If a LEA disputes payment for any student whose information submitted by a charter school is incorrect, late fees or interest are not applied to the payment for that student

Additionally, HB 335 does the following:

  • Requires that the 30-day clock for a LEA to submit payment to a charter school begin after the LEA is in receipt of both a charter school invoice and the monies from the county into the local current expense fund (originally the 30-day clock started after the LEA received a charter school invoice)
  • Requires a LEA to submit payment to a charter school for the undisputed amount within the 30-day period
  • Requires a LEA to pay a 5% late fee only if both of the following occur:
    • A charter school provides written notice to the LEA’s superintendent and school finance officer after the 30-day period stating that the payment was not received
    • Electronic payment is not transferred within 15 days of that notice, or if mailed, not postmarked within 15 days of that notice (originally the bill included an 8% late fee on day 31)
  • If the late fee is triggered, requires interest to accrue at a rate of 8% annually until the payment is received by the charter school
  • Requires the State Superintendent, in consultation with LEAs and charter schools, to create:
    • A standardized enrollment verification and transfer request document used by charter schools to request the per pupil share of the local current expense fund
    • A standardized procedure that LEAs must use when transferring the per pupil share of the local current expense fund

When presenting HB 335 to the committee, Representative Bradford applauded the efforts of NCSBA and the NC Coalition for Charter Schools to negotiate and come to a compromise. NCSBA does not support a late fee for LEAs but given the procedures and timeframes in the compromised bill, it is our hope that the penalty will never come into play. Click here for an official bill summary.

SB 654: K-12 COVID-19 Provisions (primary sponsors: Senators Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Don Davis, D-Pitt; Michael Lee, R-New Hanover) failed concurrence in the Senate and a Conference Committee was appointed. The following is included in both chambers’ versions of the bill:

  • PSUs with good-cause waivers can use up to 15 days or 90 hours of remote instruction for severe weather and other emergencies
    • All other PSUs can use up to 5 days or 30 hours
  • PSUs can provide remote instruction to address health and safety concerns related to COVID-19 during the upcoming school year
  • Waives school performance grades, report cards, and low-performing school identification for the upcoming school year based on 2020-2021 school year data
  • Continues the principal recruitment supplement for the 2021-2022 school year
  • Allows seniors to graduate in 2021 without completing CPR instruction
  • Extends exam requirements for teachers seeking a continuing professional license from June 30, 2021, to September 30, 2021
  • Adds another definition of a year-round school: allows a single-track school to operate on the same multi-track schedule of another school in that LEA (only impacts Wake County)

The following are provisions passed by the Senate and removed by the House:

  • Requires PSUs to submit a virtual instruction plan to DPI by June 1, 2021, in order to provide virtual instruction to students (with consent of parent or guardian) during the upcoming school year
  • Requires the State Superintendent to create a Working Group on Virtual Academies to make recommendations by January 15, 2022

The following are provisions added by the House:

  • Allows no more than 10% of total student enrollment in a LEA to be enrolled in a virtual academy, beginning in the 2021-2022 school year
  • Delays the implementation of social studies standard course of study changes by one year
  • Modifies the implementation of kindergarten class size requirements for the 2021-2022 school year
  • Allows individuals to receive a residency teacher license if they have a bachelor’s or advanced degree, or both (current law only includes bachelor’s degree)
  • Modifies one of the definitions of a year-round school by requiring students to attend four quarters of between 43 and 47 instructional days (was 45) each school year, with 14 to 18 vacation days (was 15) between each quarter (requested by NCSBA)
  • Directs the use of the $360 million 10% DPI reserve in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III (ESSER III) funds
    • DPI’s response to these allocations is in the SBE Called Meeting section below

Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 64: Government Transparency Act of 2021 passed the Senate 28-19, and failed concurrence in the House. This bill requires local boards of education (as well as counties, municipalities, community colleges, State agencies, etc.) to not only maintain the date and general description of the reasons for each promotion, but also for each demotion, transfer, suspension, separation, or dismissal. An employee can appeal to not have the date and description of their promotion, demotion, etc. disclosed if the information is protected by an applicable confidentiality law, like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or the American with Disabilities Act. Click here for an official bill summary. As a reminder, HB 64’s bill language was taken from SB 355, which did not make the crossover deadline. NCSBA continues to work with Senator Norm Sanderson, R-Pamlico, who is the primary sponsor of SB 355, to address our concerns.

SB 668: Anti-Pension Spiking Amds & Litig. Moratorium (primary sponsor: Senator Jim Burgin, R-Harnett) passed the House 102-2 and was sent to the Senate for concurrence with House changes requested by NCSBA. This bill does the following:

  • Adds another payment option: 12 years with no early pay-off penalty
  • In certain situations, two or more employers will share the liability
  • Creates a working group consisting of NCSBA and the State Treasurer’s office to develop recommendations to the General Assembly that will reduce the number of pension spiking cases and lawsuits
  • Requires a pause on pension-spiking litigation until June 30, 2022, during which the working group will create its recommendations
    • As a result of this pause, the statute of limitations will be extended
    • During this pause, the Treasurer’s office is not allowed to intercept funds that would have otherwise been directed to a LEA

Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 812: Clarify Remote Meetings During Emergencies (primary sponsors: Representatives Dean Arp, R-Union; Bobby Hanig, R-Currituck; Erin Pare, R-Wake; William Richardson, D-Cumberland) was signed by the Governor into SL 2021-35. This bill clarifies the authorization of remote open meetings during emergencies. It allows a public body to change a meeting notice to be a remote meeting at least six hours before the start of the meeting and include how the public can access the remote meeting. Click here for an official bill summary.

SB 722: Revise Local Gov’t Redistricting/Census (primary sponsors: Senators Warren Daniel, R-Burke; Paul Newton, R-Cabarrus; Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell) received vote for concurrence in the Senate 33-14 and was sent to the Governor. Because of the delay in receiving 2020 census data and limited time for municipalities to redraw districts, this bill delays affected 2021 municipal elections, as well as 2021 Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Lexington City boards of education elections. Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 160: Retirement Service Purchase Rewrite Part 11.-AB (primary sponsors: Representatives Allen McNeill, R-Randolph; Carson Smith, R-Pender) passed the Senate and was sent to the Governor.

HB 168: Retirement Administrative Changes Act of 2021.-AB (primary sponsors: Representatives Carson Smith, R-Pender; Keith Kidwell, R-Beaufort; Allen McNeill, R-Randolph) passed the Senate and was sent to the House for concurrence with Senate changes.

Local Bill

SB 288: Rutherford College/Bd. of Ed. Burke/Caldwell (primary sponsor: Senator Warren Daniel, R-Burke) passed the House and was sent to the Senate for concurrence with House changes.

Bill Chart

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

 

The State Board of Education (SBE) met for a called meeting on Thursday to approve the following:

K-12 social studies supporting documents: The Board voted 7-3 to approve the following supporting documents:

  • K-12 glossary – definitions of primary terms and concepts that teachers need to know and understand to effectively teach the standards (now includes citations)
  • K-12 crosswalks – reference tool that compares changes/differences between two sets of standards (previous standards vs. newly adopted standards)
  • K-12 strand maps – help ensure vertical progression of major concepts that students are expected to know by the end of each grade/course
  • K-5 unpacking documents (K12345) – enhance teacher understanding of how to engage students with the standards

Prior to the vote State Superintendent Catherine Truitt stated that she personally reviewed every page of the supporting documents and endorses their approval. Additionally, Board Chair Eric Davis stated that the SBE is not seeking a delay in the implementation of these new standards. This contrasts with a recent House addition to SB 654, which delays the implementation of the new standards by one year. Board member opposition came from three Republican-appointed members, including Dr. Olivia Oxendine who expressed concerns about lack of expansiveness and lack of inclusion of certain historic figures in the supporting documents. As a reminder, these supporting documents are not requirements but rather resources and ideas to help teachers comprehensively address the required standards in their classroom curriculum. Additionally, the grades 6-12 unpacking documents are still being developed and will be presented for approval at the Board’s July monthly meeting. Click here for an article on the discussion and approval, as well as other statewide education action this week.

ESSER III State application: The SBE approved the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) fund State application. NC has received two-thirds of its $3.6 billion in ESSER III funds, with the last third subject to an application process. The application template was required to stay open for a 30-day public comment period, which closed on June 14 with a total of 230 comments. The presentation to the Board includes a slide reviewing the different types of comments submitted. 88% of the public comments were about critical race theory, which presenters explained is not part of the ARP ESSER application, but Board Vice Chair Alan Duncan stated the importance of knowing what the public is concerned about. A modified version of the application (based on Board feedback) will be submitted to the US Department of Education by June 21. DPI staff explained that this application plan is not a comprehensive spending plan, which is being developed and will be presented at the next Board meeting. Additionally, DPI staff expressed concern about House modifications to SB 654 that direct the use of the 10% DPI reserve of the ESSER III funds, which would prevent DPI from administering the funds according to their spending plan. Click here to view the ARP ESSER fund State application.

Click here to access all meeting materials.

 

This week the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights affirmed that Title IX protects students from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Department’s interpretation is based on the US Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County last year, in which “the Supreme Court recognized that it is impossible to discriminate against a person based on their sexual orientation or gender identity without discriminating against that person based on sex.” Click here for the Department’s press release and click here for an article.

 

On Friday, June 11, Governor Cooper extended a variety of COVID-19 prevention measures until July 30, including the mask mandate in schools. Click here for the press release.

 

Monday, June 21

5:30 pm – Senate Rules – Legislative Building, rm 1027/1128 (live stream)

Tuesday, June 22

8:30 am – Senate Appropriations/Base Budget – Legislative Offices Building, rm 643 (live stream)

1:00 pm – House Education K-12 – Legislative Offices Building, rm 544 (live stream)

 

 

 

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 – June 18, 2021
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NCSBA Legislative Update – June 11, 2021

 

State Budget Process

After months of disagreement, Republican legislative leaders have agreed on a spending target for the two-year budget:

  • $25.7 billion for the 2021-2022 fiscal year (3.45% increase)
  • $26.7 billion for the 2022-2023 fiscal year (3.65% increase)

This spending target contrasts with the Governor’s proposed budget:

  • $27.3 billion for the 2021-2022 fiscal year (10% increase)
  • $28.7 billion for the 2022-2023 fiscal year (4.9% increase)

In their joint statement, House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger said that their budget will not include a bond or Medicaid expansion (both of which are included in the Governor’s proposed budget) but will include at least $4.2 billion of new capital spending through the State Capital and Infrastructure Fund. Senate leaders have not yet provided K-12 public education funding amounts and line items, like school personnel pay. As a reminder, teacher pay was one of the main reasons for the 2019 budget stalemate between legislative leaders and the Governor, ultimately leading to no official State budget for these past two fiscal years.

This announcement on a spending target is just the beginning in creating a comprehensive budget. The legislature is over a month behind its normal budget process, which means that the new two-year budget has a high chance of not passing before the start of the new fiscal year on July 1. Senator Berger provided an anticipated budget timeline to the media: the Senate budget will be released during the week of June 21 and the House will release its budget between mid-July and early August, followed by one to two weeks of negotiations. Senator Berger also expects to wrap up this legislative session in August, but his draft timeline does not account for Governor Cooper’s budget actions. Despite the delay in the budget process, the State government will not shut down on July 1 because State statute allows the government to operate on the previous year’s budget until a new budget is signed into law.

Click here for an article of the budget spending agreement.

The legislature’s plan to spend less than the Governor frees up revenue availability for a tax cut. On Thursday, the Senate approved HB 334: JOBS Grants and Tax Relief, which cuts General Fund revenues by $644.5 million in the 2021-2022 fiscal year and $1.5 billion in the 2022-2023 fiscal year. The major components of the Senate tax plan are as follows:

  • Reduction of the personal income tax rate from 5.25% to 4.99%
  • Increase in the standard deduction of $2,000 per person
  • Increase in the child deduction of $500
  • Phase out of the corporate income tax over five years beginning in 2024
  • Change in the computation of the franchise tax

Education-Related Bills with Action This Week

Statewide Bills

SB 654: K-12 COVID-19 Provisions (primary sponsors: Senators Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Don Davis, D-Pitt; Michael Lee, R-New Hanover) was modified and passed by the House 74-34 and is scheduled for a Senate concurrence vote on Monday, June 14, but the Senate is not expected to concur with the House changes. The following House committee modifications lengthened the bill from eight to 20 pages:

  • Combines the House’s virtual learning bill with the Senate’s virtual learning language:
    • Allows no more than 10% of total student enrollment in a LEA to be enrolled in a virtual academy, beginning in the 2021-2022 school year (HB 644)
      • Removes the ability to provide virtual instruction unless a LEA has a virtual academy with its own school code (except as provided in the following three bullets)
    • Public school units (PSUs) with good cause waivers can use up to 15 days or 90 hours of remote instruction for severe weather and other emergencies
      • All other PSUs can use up to 5 days or 30 hours
    • PSUs can provide remote instruction to address health and safety concerns related to COVID-19 during the upcoming school year
  • Delays the implementation of social studies standard course of study changes by one year
    • An amendment by Representative Julie von Haefen, D-Wake, to remove this section failed 46-61 on the House floor
  • Modifies the implementation of kindergarten class size requirements for the 2021-2022 school year
  • Clarifies teacher licensure education requirements
  • Modifies one of the definitions of a year-round school by requiring students to attend four quarters of between 43 and 47 instructional days (was 45) each school year, with 14 to 18 vacation days (was 15) between each quarter
  • Directs the use of the $360 million 10% DPI reserve in Elementary and Second School Emergency Relief III (ESSER III) funds, including:
    • $10 million to contract with the State Education Assistance Authority, which is responsible for administering school vouchers, to provide $1,000 grants to students in low-income households
      • Before these grants are administered, DPI must confirm that the use is consistent with federal guidelines
    • $37.5 million for teacher and principal professional development in the science of reading
    • $17 million to provide contracted school health support services
    • $21 million to contract with a third-party entity to mitigate cyberbullying, monitor student internet activity, and assist with suicide prevention services
    • $100 million to provide teachers with up to an eleventh month salary

Additionally, SB 654 does the following:

  • Waives school performance grades, report cards, and low-performing school identification for the upcoming school year based on 2020-2021 school year data
  • Continues the principal recruitment supplement for the 2021-2022 school year
  • Allows seniors to graduate in 2021 without completing CPR instruction
  • Extends exam requirements for teachers seeking a continuing professional license from June 30, 2021, to September 30, 2021
  • Adds another definition of a year-round school: allows a single-track school to operate on the same multi-track schedule of another school in that LEA

Click here for an official bill summary. Click here for an article on SB 654.

HB 64: Government Transparency Act of 2021 was gutted and amended by the Senate Judiciary Committee and approved by the Senate Rules Committee. This bill requires local boards of education (as well as counties, municipalities, community colleges, State agencies, etc.) to not only maintain the date and general description of the reasons for each promotion, but also for each demotion, transfer, suspension, separation, or dismissal. An employee can appeal to not have the date and description of their promotion, demotion, etc. disclosed if the information is protected by an applicable confidentiality law, like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or the American with Disabilities Act. Click here for an official bill summary. HB 64 is the same as SB 355 but with a slight modification. SB 355’s primary sponsor Senator Norman Sanderson, R-Pamlico, stated that he would add his bill to an eligible bill, since SB 355 did not make the crossover deadline. NCSBA previously expressed our concerns about the bill with Senator Sanderson, specifically about suspensions and transfers.

SB 582: High School Adjunct Instructors/CC Prep (primary sponsors: Senators Jim Burgin, R-Harnett; Kevin Corbin, R-Macon) passed the House 108-0 and was presented to the Governor. This bill allows higher education faculty members to qualify as adjunct instructors for K-12 core academic subjects, fine and performing arts, and foreign language courses if they meet State Board of Education criteria (currently can only teach K-12 core academic subjects). It also allows an individual who holds a bachelor’s or graduate degree, attends a community college or educator preparation program, and completes at least one semester of teacher preparation to contract with a LEA to teach high-school level courses related to the individual’s specialized knowledge or work experience. Click here for an official bill summary. Following the approval of SB 582 in the House Education K-12 Committee, TeachNC provided a presentation on teacher recruitment.

HB 812: Clarify Remote Meetings During Emergencies (primary sponsors: Representatives Dean Arp, R-Union; Bobby Hanig, R-Currituck; Erin Pare, R-Wake; William Richardson, D-Cumberland) passed the Senate 48-0 and was sent to the Governor. This bill clarifies the authorization of remote open meetings during emergencies. It allows a public body to change a meeting notice to be a remote meeting at least six hours before the start of the meeting and include how the public can access the remote meeting. Click here for an official bill summary.

SB 668: Anti-Pension Spiking Amds & Litig. Moratorium (primary sponsor: Senator Jim Burgin, R-Harnett) was modified and approved by the House Pensions and Retirement Committee and referred to the House Rules Committee. This bill does the following:

  • Adds another payment option: 12 years with no early pay-off penalty
  • In certain situations, two or more employers will share the liability
  • Creates a working group consisting of NCSBA and the State Treasurer’s office to develop recommendations to the General Assembly that will reduce pension spiking cases and lawsuits
  • Requires a pause on pension-spiking litigation until June 30, 2022, during which the working group will create its recommendations
    • As a result of this pause, the statute of limitations will be extended
    • During the pause, the Treasurer’s office is not allowed to intercept funds that would have otherwise been directed to a LEA

Click here for an official bill summary.

SB 722: Revise Local Gov’t Redistricting/Census (primary sponsors: Senators Warren Daniel, R-Burke; Paul Newton, R-Cabarrus; Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell) was modified and approved by the House Rules Committee, passed the House 107-0, and was sent to the Senate for concurrence with the House changes. Because of the delay in receiving 2020 census data and limited time for municipalities to redraw districts, this bill delays affected 2021 municipal elections. The House Rules Committee added the Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Lexington City boards of education to the bill to allow for a delay in 2021 elections until 2022. Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 84: Sex Offender Premises Restrictions (primary sponsors: Representatives Harry Warren, R-Rowan; Allen McNeill, R-Randolph; Dennis Riddell, R-Alamance; Sarah Stevens, R-Surry) passed the Senate, the House did not concur, and a conference committee has been appointed.

Local Bills

HB 85: Cleveland Cty Bd. of Ed Vacancies (primary sponsors: Representatives Kelly Hastings, R-Gaston; Jason Saine, R-Lincoln) passed the Senate, the House concurred with the Senate changes, and became SL 2021-28. This bill requires the Cleveland County Board of Education to fill a Board vacancy by appointing the recommendation of the county executive committee of the vacating member’s political party.

SB 288: Rutherford College/Bd. of Ed. Burke/Caldwell (primary sponsor: Senator Warren Daniel, R-Burke) was modified and approved by the House Local Government Committee and referred to the House Rules Committee.

Bill Chart

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

 

On Monday, Judge David Lee signed an order to implement the 52-page Comprehensive Remedial Plan that was submitted by the State Board of Education and DPI earlier this year, addressing the State’s constitutional obligation of providing every student with the opportunity to a sound, basic education.

The Monday order calls for the State to abide by its constitutional obligation by implementing the eight-year comprehensive remedial plan that currently costs $5.6 billion (some items do not yet include cost totals) and addresses the seven key areas outlined in the 2020 consent order and 2019 WestEd report:

  1. A high-quality teacher in each classroom
  2. A high-quality principal in each school
  3. A finance system that provides adequate, equitable, and predictable funding to school districts
  4. An accountability system that reliably assesses multiple measures of student performance
  5. An assistance and turnaround function to provide support to low-performing schools and districts
  6. A system of early education to ensure that all students enter kindergarten on track for school success
  7. Alignment of high school to postsecondary and career expectations

While the court has persistently upheld the efforts of the Leandro case and what is legally owed to public school children, Republican leadership in the General Assembly insists that because of the constitutional separation of powers clause, the court cannot compel the legislature on how to spend State money. The court order says that “If the State fails to implement actions described in the Comprehensive Remedial Plan…‘it will then be the duty of this Court to enter a judgment granting declaratory relief and such other relief as needed to correct the wrong.’” Click here for an article on the order and current legislative efforts.

 

This week the U.S. Department of Education released Maintenance of Equity Guidance for the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) funding, to help ensure that “essential resources are meeting the needs of students who have been subject to longstanding opportunity gaps in our education system.”

  • Click here to access ARP ESSER Maintenance of Equity FAQs
  • Click here to access the ARP ESSER State Plan Application Technical Assistance webpage
  • Click here to access the Department’s press release announcing actions to advance equity in education

 

The National School Boards Action Center released a national public opinion poll on public education. The findings are from a nationwide survey of 1,000 individuals who are likely 2022 voters, with oversamples of 100 African American, 100 Latinx, 100 AAPI, 100 Native American, and 100 parents of school-age children who are likely 2022 voters. Click here to view key findings and full results.

 

Tuesday, June 15

8:30 am – House Appropriations, Education – Legislative Offices Building, rm 425 (no live stream)

1:00 pm – House Local Government – Legislative Building, rm 1228/1327 (live stream)

Wednesday, June 16

10:00 am – Senate Health Care – Legislative Offices Building, rm 544 (live stream)

 

 

  

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 – June 11, 2021
read more