Legislative Updates & Alerts

NCSBA Legislative Update – September 17, 2021

This Week at the Legislature

The public business of the General Assembly this week was focused on Redistricting hearings that were held in six cities across the state. The Senate did not meet for a voting session this week and the House held only one voting session. Next week the House will have one voting session on Thursday morning and will take up HB 264, Emergency Powers Accountability Act  (The bill transfers emergency powers from the Governor to the Council of State). The Senate has not announced their plans for next week.

Behind the scenes, the budget conference committee continues to work. Speaker Moore gave a peek into the budget negotiations in an impromptu news conference outside his office on Wednesday. Speaker Moore said that budget conferees had agreed on taxes and a lot of the capital projects. He said there were still differences to resolve on salaries and benefits, federal ARP (American Rescue Plan Act of 2021) funds, policy issues, and State Capital and Infrastructure Fund (SCIF) funds. He believes a draft Conference Report on SB 105 (budget bill) can be sent to the Governor next week for his review. This draft will not be made public. The budget conferees will then negotiate with the Governor and his staff on the changes in the bill. Speaker Moore thinks the budget bill can be finalized in the first or second week in October.

In other news, Rep. Verla Insko (D-Orange) announced this week that she will not seek reelection in 2022. Rep. Insko is serving her 13th two year term in the House. She previously served on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education from 1977 to 1985. We thank her for her service and support of public education.

Education-Related Bills with Action This Week

HB 324: Ensuring Dignity & Nondiscrimination/Schools was vetoed by Governor Cooper on September 13. The Governor’s veto message stated that “The legislature should be focused on supporting teachers, helping students recover lost learning, and investing in our public schools. Instead, this bill pushes calculated, conspiracy-laden politics into public education.” Click here to access the September 3 Legislative Update with NCSBA’s summary of the bill. Click here for an official bill summary. The bill was referred to the Committee On Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House.

SB 593: Special Education Due Process Hearings (primary sponsors: Senators Brent Jackson, R-Sampson; Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Michael Lee, R-New Hanover) was scheduled to be heard in the House Judiciary 2 Committee on Wednesday, September 15, but the meeting was canceled. The meeting has not yet been rescheduled. NCSBA has stressed to legislators that SB 593 will not bring about any significant reduction in time nor costs in these special education cases.  NCSBA continues to work to improve this bill.

 

When SB 654 was signed into law (S.L. 2021-130) by Governor Cooper on August 30, many school boards may not have known about Section 10. Not only does Section 10 require all public school units to adopt a policy on the use of face coverings by employees and students for the 2021-2022 school year, but it requires the “governing body of the public school unit shall vote at least once a month on whether the face covering policy should be modified”. This bill has set off a monthly round of public hearings across the state that have become unruly in some cases.

When asked on Wednesday if the monthly meeting requirement was a good idea given recent protests, Speaker Moore responded “I believe it is a good idea to make sure that that process is done on a monthly basis. It allows parents, teachers, everyone else to really have transparency to see what’s happening and of course we left it up to those school boards to take whatever action they deem appropriate.”

Most of the school boards that met this week voted to continue their mandate for face masks/coverings. However, the Boards of Education in Harnett and Lincoln counties voted to return to optional masks in school. There are now 110 districts with mandated masks, 3 with optional masks, and 2 with optional masks pending (Harnett – effective October 5 and Lincoln – effective September 29).

NCSBA continues to track local school boards’ policies/resolutions on school mask requirements. 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.

 

Local School Board Quarantine Policies & DHHS Response

When debating school mask rules during recent school board meetings, three boards voted this week on quarantine rules.

  • At their Sept. 13 meeting, the Union County Board of Education voted to halt all staff responsibilities regarding contact tracing and quarantining for students and staff, except as required by law. All students and staff who do not have a positive COVID-19 test or symptoms, should return to school or work immediately. The Board stated that the statutory authority of managing contact tracing and quarantining is that of Union County Public Health.
  • On September 13, the Cabarrus County Board of Education voted that the district will not contact trace unless two cases come from a single classroom, bus or athletic team.
  • On September 14, the Lincoln County Board of Education voted that Lincoln County students and staff will now no longer have to quarantine unless they are positive for COVID-19, symptomatic, or have a quarantine order from the health department.

On September 15, Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, asked the Union County Board of Education to rescind their motion on contact tracing and quarantine. Secretary Cohen urged the Union County Public Schools “to adopt all of the recommendations in the Toolkit and, at the very least, to reimpose the requirements to cooperate with local public health officials in identifying individuals exposed to COVID-19 as well as exclude students subject to isolation and quarantine measures described in the Toolkit no later 5:00 pm Friday, September 17, 2021. If Union County Board of Education does not take such steps by September 17th, legal action may be required to protect the public’s health.” (Click here for letter)

 

On September 13, the U.S. Department of Education approved our State’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III (ESSER III) plan. As a reminder, NC has received two-thirds of its $3.6 billion in ESSER III funds, with the last third being subject to federal approval of a state application. North Carolina is now one of 17 states that have received federal approval of their plans. (Click here for the press release.)

Districts and schools receive 90 percent of the state’s total $3.6 billion ESSER III allocation, based on the same proportions used for allocating federal Title I funds keyed to census poverty estimates. The remaining 10 percent of the funds will support statewide initiatives to help schools and students recover from pandemic-related disruptions and to also improve long term student outcomes.

 

Operation Polaris

On Wednesday, September 15, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt released details of her strategic vision, called Operation Polaris, aimed at achieving gains for public education in the state (Click here for press release). Superintendent Truitt’s plan “outlines a coordinated effort to better mobilize the agency’s resources and expertise in response both to immediate needs resulting from the pandemic and lasting efforts to improve student outcomes long term.” Click here for details on Operation Polaris.

 

No education-related meetings were posted by Friday at noon.

 

 

 

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 – September 17, 2021
read more

NCSBA Legislative Update – September 10, 2021

 

Budget Negotiations

So far, both legislative leaders have spoken about agreements being reached on large money items. According to a news source, Senate leader Phil Berger said, “I think we will know hopefully by the end of this month whether or not we’re going to be able to have a traditional budget passed by the General Assembly and either signed by the governor or veto overridden.” Additionally, he stated that by the end of 2021 there will either be a budget enacted or the legislature will be in “mini budget territory.”

Education-Related Bills with Action This Week

Statewide Bills

HB 324: Ensuring Dignity & Nondiscrimination/Schools continues to sit on the governor’s desk, pending either a signature, veto, or three more days of inaction by the governor for it to automatically become law. The controversial bill is not expected to be signed by Governor Cooper. Click here to access last week’s Legislative Update with NCSBA’s summary of the bill. Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 91: Accountability and Fair Play in Athletics passed the Senate 28-14 on third (final) reading, was sent back to the House for concurrence, and is now awaiting a hearing in the House Education K-12 Committee. The 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 the revised 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 22 months concerning lack of transparency. HB 91 is unanimously supported by Senate Republicans and opposed by the NCHSAA and a majority of Democratic Senators, with one out of 22 voting to approve the bill on third reading. Click here for an official bill summary.

Local Bill

HB 3: Craven Bd of Ed/Partisan Electoral Districts (primary sponsor: Representative Keith Kidwell, R-Beaufort) was ratified into SL 2021-140. This bill changes the method of election for the Craven County Board of Education from nonpartisan to partisan and requires Board members to be elected from districts. Click here for an official bill summary.

Education-Related Bill with Action Next Week

SB 593: Special Education Due Process Hearings (primary sponsors: Senators Brent Jackson, R-Sampson; Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Michael Lee, R-New Hanover) is scheduled to be heard in the House Judiciary 2 Committee on Wednesday, September 15, at 12:00 pm (click here for live stream). This bill alters the appeals process for special education due process hearings by eliminating State Hearing Review Officers (SHROs). SHROs currently review, upon the request of a party, the decisions made by administrative law judges. Under SB 593, the step involving SHROs would be eliminated, and any appeals would occur in state or federal court. School attorneys believe that this bill could potentially violate federal regulations, which could put federal funds in jeopardy. SB 593 passed the Senate in May on a 33-16 vote, and the bill’s contents were included in the Senate’s version of the budget. NCSBA is working to improve this bill. Click here for an official bill summary.

 

NCSBA has created a chart tracking local school boards’ policies/resolutions on school mask requirements. Click here to access the chart.

The number of school districts with mask mandates continues to increase, with currently 112 out of 115 requiring masks. As your school district finalizes its mask policy, please email information to Richard Bostic at rbostic@ncsba.org, as well as any corrections to the chart.

 

During a Leandro hearing on Wednesday, Superior Court Judge David Lee said that if the General Assembly and the governor do not fully fund the Leandro Comprehensive Remedial Plan by mid-October, he will take direct action. The Plan was submitted by the State Board of Education (SBE) and DPI earlier this year, followed by a June 2021 court order calling for implementation of the Plan. The hearing on Wednesday was the first progress report on the Plan, and another hearing will be held on October 18. According to a news source, if the mid-October deadline is not met, Judge Lee will explore his judicial powers to enforce the Plan’s implementation.

Legislative leaders continue to criticize the enforcement of the Plan because of the constitutional separation of powers and the lack of consultation with the legislature before approving the Plan. This week’s hearing comes after the release of each chamber’s budget proposal. According to a news source, the Senate budget proposal includes about 28% of the funding needed to implement the Plan in the 2021-2022 fiscal year, and the House budget proposal includes about 20%. Additionally, the State’s progress report says that the governor’s proposed budget covers the Plan’s implementation costs for the second and third year.

  • Click here for the State’s progress report to the court
  • Click here for the SBE’s report to the court
  • Click here for the plaintiff’s response in the court
  • Click here and here for articles on the hearing and background on the Leandro case

 

On Tuesday, DHHS released a report that shows 125 ongoing COVID-19 clusters in K-12 school settings. This is up from the 72 clusters reported last Tuesday, August 31. In a K-12 school setting, a cluster is defined as “a minimum of five positive cases identified through a positive molecular (PCR) or positive antigen test result with illness onsets or initial positive results within a 14-day period and plausible epidemiologic linkage between cases.” Click here for an article on the report.

 

Wednesday, September 15

12:00 pm – House Judiciary 2 Committee – 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 – September 10, 2021
read more

NCSBA Legislative Update – September 3, 2021

 

Budget Negotiations

According to a news source, Senate leader Phil Berger stated that he does not expect the budget compromise to be done before the end of the month, while House Speaker Tim Moore said that he expects it to be done by mid-September. Either way, we are over two months into the new fiscal year and still operating on the 2018 State budget (plus mini budget bills). As the budget process continues to be drawn out, many education-related issues, like salary increases, remain uncertain.

HB 324: Ensuring Dignity & Nondiscrimination/Schools

The House voted 61-41 along party lines to concur with Senate changes to HB 324: Ensuring Dignity & Nondiscrimination/Schools, and the bill has been presented to the Governor who is not expected to sign it into law. This controversial bill defines “promote” as “compelling students, teachers, administrators, or other school employees to affirm or profess belief in the concepts described” and lists 13 concepts that are prohibited from being promoted in public schools. Public school units (PSUs) shall not promote that:

  1. One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex
  1. An individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive
  2. An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex
  3. An individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex
  4. An individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex
  5. Any individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress
  6. A meritocracy is inherently racist or sexist
  7. The United States was created by members of a particular race or sex for the purpose of oppressing members of another race or sex
  8. The United States government should be violently overthrown
  9. Particular character traits, values, moral or ethical codes, privileges, or beliefs should be ascribed to a race or sex or to an individual because of the individual’s race or sex
  10. The rule of law does not exist, but instead is a series of power relationships and struggles among racial or other groups
  11. All Americans are not created equal and are not endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
  12. Governments should deny to any person within the government’s jurisdiction the equal protection of the law

HB 324 also requires public schools to notify DPI and post to their website information about:

  • Instruction regarding the concepts
  • Contracting with, hiring, or otherwise engaging speakers, consultants, diversity trainers, and other persons for the purpose of discussing the 13 concepts
  • Contracting with, hiring, or otherwise engaging speakers, consultants, diversity trainers, and other persons who have previously advocated for the 13 concepts

During House floor debate, Representative Abe Jones, D-Wake, said that HB 324 is not needed because local school boards can handle concerns about what is being taught in their schools. Click here for an official bill summary.

SB 654: K-12 COVID-19 Provisions

SB 654: K-12 COVID-19 Provisions (primary sponsors: Senators Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Don Davis, D-Pitt; Michael Lee, R-New Hanover) was signed into SL 2021-130. The bill addresses virtual instruction, COVID-19 waivers/extensions, mask policies, teacher licensure, principal recruitment supplements, and year-round calendars.

  • Click here to access last week’s Legislative Update that includes a summary of SB 654
  • Click here for an official bill summary
  • Click here for an article on SB 654 (from Monday, August 30)

Other Education-Related Bills with Action This Week

Statewide Bills

HB 91: Accountability and Fair Play in Athletics passed the Senate 32-14 on second reading and is scheduled for a third (final) reading on Wednesday, September 8. Next, the bill will be sent to the House for a concurrence vote. The current version of the 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 the revised 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 22 months concerning lack of transparency. HB 91 is unanimously supported by Senate Republicans and opposed by the NCHSAA and many Democratic Senators, with five out of 22 voting to approve the bill. Click here for an official bill summary that outlines all the new requirements for the SBE, PSUs, and NCHSAA.

HB 954: Video Lottery Entertainment (primary sponsors: Representatives Harry Warren, R-Rowan; Timothy Moffit, R-Henderson; Howard Hunter, D-Hertford; Michael Wray, D-Northampton) was modified and approved by the House Commerce Committee and referred to the House Finance Committee. This bill prohibits a video lottery terminal from being placed within 500 feet of a public or nonpublic school. Click here for an official bill summary.

SB 159: State Health Plan Administrative Changes.-AB (primary sponsors: Senators Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth; Jim Burgin, R-Harnett; Jim Perry, R-Lenoir) was signed into SL 2021-125. This bill makes technical, clarifying, and administrative changes to laws relating to the State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees. Click here for an official bill summary.

Local Bill

HB 3: Craven Bd of Ed/Partisan Electoral Districts (primary sponsor: Representative Keith Kidwell, R-Beaufort) passed the Senate and was sent to the House for a concurrence vote. Click here for an official bill summary.

 

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

Five-year facility needs survey report: The SBE was presented with the 2020-2021 Statewide Facility Needs Report, which is a compilation of data submitted by LEAs for five-year facility needs. In the table below you will see that the total capital funding need is $12.8 billion, with a majority of need for renovations and new schools. This is a 58.7% increase in need from the $8.1 billion reported in 2015-2016. DPI staff noted that its $250 per square foot cost estimate is a pre-pandemic number and does not account for the recent inflation in construction costs. Presenters also noted that LEAs tend to underreport their need.

2020-2021 student test performance results and graduation rate: Student test performance results for this past school year were down across all grades compared to the 2018-2019 school year. As a reminder, tests were not taken at the end of the 2019-2020 school year due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although tests were taken for the 2020-2021 school year, data will not be used for accountability measures due to state and federal waivers. DPI staff reminded the Board that the presentation of the 2020-2021 data with 2018-2019 data is for context only, not for accountability, and that the data is meant to support teachers and parents in planning for this current school year. Additionally, Board members were presented with graduation rates. While the 2020-2021 graduation rate decreased to 86.9% from the 87.6% rate in the 2019-2020 school year, it increased from the 86.5% rate in the 2018-2019 school year.

  • Click here for a presentation that includes overall testing results, disaggregated testing results, graduation rates, waivers, and more
  • Click here for a statistical summary of the testing results
  • Click here the complete testing results for the State, LEAs, and schools (under the 2020-21 Reports heading)
  • Click here for DPI’s press release on the testing results
  • Click here for an article on the testing results

DHHS COVID-19 update: DHHS informed Board members that COVID-19 cases are quickly rising, with case rates increasing the most for 18–24 year-olds, followed by 0-17 year-olds. As of August 31, there are 72 active clusters in K-12 settings.

DHHS also presented the Board with information regarding the State’s federally funded opt-in K-12 COVID-19 testing program. The program provides funds for screening and/or diagnostic 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. DHHS distributed the opt-in form and guidance to superintendents and school health administrators in July.

ESSER funding: The Board approved federal Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds that have been appropriated by the General Assembly in session law, including:

House and Senate budget comparison: The Board’s legislative update presentation included a comparison of the House and Senate budget proposals. Click here to access the presentation that includes the comparison starting on slide 9.

Read to Achieve local alternative assessments: The Board approved a list of Read to Achieve local alternative assessments that LEAs can use instead of the state funded Amplify assessment tool. All presented assessments were approved for the 2020-2021 school year, but some have been renamed by vendors.

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

 

NCSBA has created a chart tracking local school boards’ policies/resolutions on school mask requirements. Click here to access the chart.

The number of school districts with mask mandates continues to increase, with currently 109 out of 115 requiring masks. Last Friday the number was 91, and the Friday before that the number was 80. As your school district finalizes its mask policy, please email information to Richard Bostic at rbostic@ncsba.org, as well as any corrections to the chart.

 

Last week the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it will open a second application filing window on September 28 for schools to request funding for devices and broadband connection for off-campus use by students and school staff during the 2021-2022 school year. This announcement follows over $5 billion in funding requests from all 50 states, U.S. territories, and D.C. during the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program’s initial application filing window. The second application filing window will open on September 28 and close on October 13. Click here for the FCC news release. Click here for a webpage with numerous resources.

 

This week the Hunt Institute announced the creation of the Hunt-Lee Commission, which “will identify and apply high-impact strategies for strengthening systems across the education continuum in North Carolina.” The Commission is named after four-term NC Governor James B. Hunt, Jr. and Institute Board members (former) NC Senator Howard Lee and NC Senator Michael Lee. The bipartisan Commission is commended by Governor Roy Cooper, Senate leader Phil Berger, and House Speaker Tim Moore. Click here for the press release that includes a full list of Commission members. Click here for an article on the launch of the Commission.

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – September 3, 2021
read more

NCSBA Legislative Update – August 27, 2021

 

SB 654: K-12 COVID-19 Provisions

After months of being in conference, a conference committee report for SB 654: K-12 COVID-19 Provisions (primary sponsors: Senators Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Don Davis, D-Pitt; Michael Lee, R-New Hanover) was presented and passed by both chambers (102-1 in the House and 44-0 in the Senate). The bill is now awaiting the Governor’s signature. SB 654 does the following.

Virtual instruction:

  • Requires public school nits (PSUs) to submit a virtual instruction plan to DPI by October 1, 2021, in order to provide virtual instruction to students (with consent of parent or guardian) during the 2021-2022 school year
    • Prohibits virtual instruction after June 30, 2022, except if a LEA was assigned a school code to operate a virtual academy by May 1, 2021
  • Allows PSUs with good-cause waivers to 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
  • Allows PSUs to provide remote instruction to address health and safety concerns related to COVID-19 for the 2021-2022 school year
  • Requires the State Superintendent to create a Working Group on Virtual Academies to make recommendations to the General Assembly by March 15, 2022

COVID-19 waivers/extensions:

  • Waives school performance grades and low-performing school identification for the 2021-2022 school year based on 2020-2021 school year data
    • Annual report cards for the 2021-2022 school year, based on data from the 2020-2021 school year, will be produced to comply with federal requirements under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
  • Allows seniors to graduate in 2021 without completing CPR instruction
  • Temporarily waives certain driving eligibility requirements and restores certain driving permits and provisional licenses that were revoked due to certificate ineligibility

Mask policies:

  • For the 2021-2022 school year, requires all PSUs to adopt a face mask policy for employees and students and to vote at least once a month on if the policy should be modified (similar to SB 173)

Teacher licensure:

  • Extends exam requirements for teachers seeking a continuing professional license from June 30, 2021, to December 31, 2021 (was September 30, 2021, in previous versions)
  • 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)

Principal recruitment supplement:

  • Continues the principal recruitment supplement for the 2021-2022 school year

Year-round calendars:

  • 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)
  • 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)

Provisions that were removed from SB 654:

  • Delays the implementation of social studies standard course of study changes by one year (the House’s version of the budget delays by two years)
  • Modifies the implementation of kindergarten class size requirements for the 2021-2022 school year (included in the House’s version of the budget)
  • Directs the use of the $360 million 10% DPI reserve in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III (ESSER III) funds (different allocations included in each chamber’s version of the budget)

Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 324: Ensuring Dignity & Nondiscrimination/Schools

The modified version of HB 324: Ensuring Dignity & Nondiscrimination/Schools that Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, introduced last month for discussion only (NCSBA wrote about the bill version in previous legislative updates) finally passed out of the Senate Education/Higher Education and Senate Rules committees and passed the Senate on a 25-17 party-line vote. Now the bill will be sent to the House for a concurrence vote. HB 324 now defines “promote” as “compelling students, teachers, administrators, or other school employees to affirm or profess belief in the concepts described”. Listed below are six additional concepts, bringing the total to 13 that are prohibited from being promoted in public schools.

  • The U.S. government should be violently overthrown
  • Particular character traits, values, moral or ethical codes, privileges, or beliefs should be ascribed to a race or sex or to an individual because of the individual’s race or sex
  • The rule of law does not exist, but instead is a series of power relationships and struggles among racial or other groups
  • All Americans are not created equal and are not endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
  • Governments should deny to any person within the government’s jurisdiction the equal protection of the law
  • The United States was created by members of a particular race or sex for the purpose of oppressing members of another race or sex.

HB 324 also requires public schools to notify DPI and post to their website information about:

  • Instruction regarding the concepts
  • Contracting with, hiring, or otherwise engaging speakers, consultants, diversity trainers, and other persons for the purpose of discussing the 13 concepts
  • Contracting with, hiring, or otherwise engaging speakers, consultants, diversity trainers, and other persons who have previously advocated for the 13 concepts

The controversial bill stirred up debate and received many public comments in both committees. Additionally, during the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee meeting, Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson announced that his F.A.C.T.S. Task Force released a report on indoctrination in the State’s public-school classrooms. Click here for an official bill summary.

Other Education-Related Bills with Action This Week

Statewide Bills

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) was signed into SL 2021-115. The bill 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)

HB 91: Accountability and Fair Play in Athletics, the bill proposing to abolish the NC High School Athletic Association was sent back to the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee a month after it was approved by that same Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. The Committee passed an amendment that essentially rewrote HB 91. The previous version of the bill replaced the NC High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) with a new commission. This latest version of HB 91 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 NCHSAA but does not have to be) or assign administration to DPI. Click here for an official bill summary that outlines all the new requirements for the SBE, PSUs, and NCHSAA.

During the Committee meeting, numerous members and employees of NCHSAA, including Commissioner Que Tucker, spoke in opposition of a majority of the bill’s contents, but agreed on the need for more transparency and collaboration. Bill presenters continued to explain that their motivation behind HB 91 is the result of an ongoing examination into the NCHSAA that has spanned over 22 months.

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 vetoed by the Governor who stated: “The State Board of Education is constitutionally and statutorily charged with administering children’s education in state public schools, including charter schools. It is critical that the Board have both of their appointments to the Charter School Advisory Board to carry out its constitutional duties.” In addition to removing one of the SBE’s appointments to the Charter School Advisory Board (CSAB), HB 729 requires the State Superintendent (or designee) to be the secretary of CSAB and permits charter school teachers to receive residency licensure.

Local Bills

HB 3: Craven Bd of Ed/Partisan Electoral Districts (primary sponsor: Representative Keith Kidwell, R-Beaufort) was approved by the Senate State and Local Government Committee and referred to the Senate Rules Committee. Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 400: Modify Asheville/Buncombe Sch. Bd. Elect. (primary sponsors: Representatives Susan Fisher, D-Buncombe; Brian Turner, D-Buncombe; John Ager, D-Buncombe) was amended upon the request of Senator Chuck Edwards, R-Henderson, in the Senate State and Local Government Committee. The amendment changed 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 will be elected by voters residing in their districts. HB 400 has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee. Click here for an official bill summary.

Budget Negotiations

Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, was quoted last week saying he expected negotiations to wrap up in early September. This week he was quoted by the media as saying “At this point, I would say we’re not making much progress.”

 

NCSBA has created a chart tracking local school boards’ policies/resolutions on school mask requirements. Click here to access the chart. As of August 27, 91 school districts require students and staff to wear masks on school property (up from 80 last Friday). For a majority of students, the school year started on Monday, August 23. As your school district finalizes its mask policy, please email information to Richard Bostic at rbostic@ncsba.org, as well as any corrections to the chart.

 

As of 1:00 pm on Friday, August 27, no education-related meetings were scheduled for next week.

Additional Education-Related Meeting

The State Board of Education will have its monthly meeting on Wednesday, September 1, and Thursday, September 2.

Legal/Policy Q&A

NCSBA’s Legal/Policy Team was kind enough to create a Q&A addressing vaccinations, mask resolutions/policies, and general COVID-19 issues. The Legal/Policy Team compiled a list based on questions and concerns posed by school districts as the new school year begins. Answers were drawn from various sources. The document, which may be updated periodically, is posted to the NCSBA website here.

 

 

 

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 27, 2021
read more

NCSBA Legislative Update – August 20, 2021

 

Budget Negotiations

Budget negotiations began this week with the appointment of House and Senate conferees. There is a total of 44 House conferees (plus 3 advisory, non-voting conferees) and 24 Senate conferees. While a majority of conferees are Republicans, Democrats who voted to approve their chamber’s budget were also appointed (9 representatives and 4 senators). As a reminder, the Senate voted 32-17 to approve its version of the budget, and the House voted 72-41 to approve its version of the budget.

According to a news source, Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said that the goal is for the two chambers to reach a consensus by the end of August, followed by collaboration with the Governor and final floor votes around September 9. NCSBA Editorial: that’s an ambitious goal.

In case you missed it last week, click here for NCSBA’s comparison of House and Senate budget education appropriations.

Education-Related Bills with Action This Week

Statewide Bills

The Senate voted 46-0 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), followed by presentation to the Governor. The bill 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)

SB 693: Expedite Child Safety and Permanency (primary sponsors: Senators Steve Jarvis, R-Davidson; Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth; Chuck Edwards, R-Henderson) passed the House 72-30 and has been sent to the Senate for a concurrence vote. Section 6 of the bill 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 in visible/high-traffic areas in the school, and include warning signs of abuse and how to report it. The bill does not appropriate funds for this mandate. Section 6 of SB 693 incorporates language from HB 205, which passed the House 119-0. Click here for an official bill summary.

Local Bill

HB 353: Winston-Salem/Forsyth and Wake Bds. of Ed. (primary sponsors: Representatives Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth; Lee Zachary, R-Yadkin) passed the House and was sent to the Senate. This bill staggers the terms of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County and Wake County boards of education. Click here for an official bill summary.

Bill Chart

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

 

NCSBA has created a chart tracking local school boards’ policies/resolutions on school mask requirements. Click here to access the chart. In the past few weeks, 23 school boards have reversed their decision of allowing masks to be optional to now mandating masks. Currently, 80 school districts require masks and 35 allow masks to be optional.

For a majority of students, the school year starts on Monday, August 23. As your school district finalizes its mask policy, please email information to Richard Bostic at rbostic@ncsba.org, as well as any corrections to the chart.

 

The Board met in a called meeting on Thursday to approve contracts, including 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. This training is part of the science of reading changes made to the Read to Achieve program by SB 387: Excellent Public Schools Act of 2021/SL 2021-8.

Click here to access all meeting materials.

 

 

 

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 20, 2021
read more

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
read more

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
read more

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
read more

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
read more

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
read more