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NCSBA Legislative Update – June 8, 2018

HB960, which was scheduled Thursday for a vote on the House floor, was removed from the calendar because of an amendment Rep. Larry Pittman put forth to allow armed school employees to voluntarily provide security services if they are trained and possess a concealed carry permit.  NCSBA opposes this amendment per the results of the survey sent to school board members in March when 70% said they opposed arming teachers.  This bill is back on the calendar for Tuesday, June 12.  Please contact your House member(s) before Tuesday and let them know that you oppose arming school employees except SRO officers.  Click here to find your House members and contact information. 

As currently written, HB960- Local Law Enforcement/Citizen Academies, would authorize local programs for citizens to do specific tasks for their law enforcement agencies to help with community safety and security.  The citizens would have to go through a training program and background check.

On Thursday the Senate quickly overrode Governor Roy Cooper’s Wednesday veto of the 2018-19 budget.  This came less than 24 hours after the veto was issued.  The override margin was 34-13.  It is expected that the House will override the veto Monday or Tuesday.

Governor Cooper cited the public education section as one of the problematic areas, calling the funding inadequate.  “We have to invest more in public education,” Gov. Cooper said during a news conference announcing his veto.

This is the second consecutive year that Gov. Cooper has vetoed the General Assembly’s budget bill.  If you want to read more and watch the Governor’s news conference on his decision to veto click here. If you want to read about the leadership of the General Assembly’s response to the veto click here.

HB514, which allows four Charlotte suburbs to apply to run charter schools, is now law (SL 2018-3).  The bill passed a final Senate vote 27-17 Monday night and then was approved in a concurrence vote by the House 64-53 on Wednesday.  Since the bill was a local bill it did not go to the Governor.

HB514 will set a new precedent for the state by letting the towns of Matthews, Mint Hill, Cornelius, and Huntersville apply to be chartering entities.  If approved to run a charter school, the town could use tax money to fund both current operations AND capital.

The Senate Education Committee had added an amendment to allow employees of these “municipal charter schools” to participate in the Teacher and State Employees Retirement System (TSERS).  Concern was later raised this provision made the bill a statewide bill that would have to be sent to the Governor.  In an effort to keep HB514 a “local” bill, the employee eligibility language was removed on the Senate floor.  Ultimately, six Republican Senators joined all of the Democrat Senators to vote against HB514.  They were Senators Dan Barrett, Tamara Barringer, Kenny Earl Britt, Rick Horner, Tom McInnis, and Jerry Tillman.  On the House side, Republican House members William Brisson, Ted Davis, Josh Dobson, Jeffrey Elmore, Kyle Hall, Craig Horn, Julia Howard, Stephen Ross, and Mitchell Setzer broke ranks to join the Democrats to vote in opposition.

NCSBA is concerned that this is a concept that other towns and cities could pursue in future years.  Now that this law has been enacted, it is going to be difficult, if not impossible, for future legislatures to tell local delegations that their municipalities cannot have the same authority to create their own “municipal charter school.”  Additionally, Section 38.8 of the State budget act now authorizes cities to use tax dollars for public schools including to enter into leasing agreements for real property and mobile classroom facilities.  HB 514 takes it a step further and permits specified municipalities to open/operate public charter schools. There are also a number of unanswered questions and potential consequences, including, but not limited to:

  • What, if any, retirement plan will employees of the municipal charter participate?  What other benefits would or would not be available to employees of the municipal charter?
  • What happens if there is a time when less than a majority of student enrollment live in the municipality?   Is this a violation of the public purpose clause in the constitution?
  • Can the town contract with an Education Management Organization (EMO) to run the school or must all employees be employees of the town?
  • What would this do to pre-existing schools run by the LEA that are located in or near the municipality that taxpayers have already paid?
  • What effect would this have on traditional charter schools in the area?
  • Do the citizens of the municipality have a voice in whether the school is established or not?

This issue has made the national news in an article published this week by US News and World Report.  Click here to read that report.

A bill to make some changes to the Innovative School District (ISD) and allow qualifying local school boards to employ the spouse of the local superintendent passed the House K-12 Education Committee Tuesday.  ISD Superintendent Dr. Eric Hall requested several amendments to the existing ISD statute, and SB15 includes these provisions.  They include:

  • Removes the cap of 5 schools and allows the ISD superintendent the option of selecting up to two additional low-performing schools for the ISD beginning 2021-22.  (NCSBA has concerns about this section).
  • Schools that adopt a turnaround model such as a Restart are no longer exempt from inclusion in the ISD.  (NCSBA has concerns about this section).
  • Career status teachers in an ISD school will now retain his/her career status once the school goes back to the governance of the LEA.
  • Change the dates for the SBE to select an ISD school and for the local board of education to respond.  Currently, the SBE must select an ISD school by December 15 of the calendar year and then the local school board has two months to decide to accept the transfer or close the school.  SB15 changes those dates so that the SBE must select a school by November 15 and then the local board must make a decision on accepting the transfer or closing the school one month later- December 15.
  • If the local school board decides to close the school instead of accepting the ISD transfer, SB15 would require the board to submit a closure plan to the SBE.
  • Give the ISD operator first priority in using funds for capital at the school.
  • Expand the timeline for the ISD operator and the local school board to adopt a memorandum of understanding to 45 days (from, 30 days).
  • Allows, instead of requiring, innovation zone schools to become an ISD school if they do not meet certain benchmarks.

As noted above, NCSBA has concerns about two of the sections in this part of the bill.  We are working with Dr. Hall and the SBE to modify the language but still achieve the identified goals.

SB15 also contains a separate provision that clarifies the law surrounding employment by the school district of a superintendent’s spouse.  SB15 would specifically allow for employment of superintendents’ spouses in county LEAs with a population of 65,000 or fewer and in city LEAs with a population of 15,000 or fewer.

SB15 could be taken up in the House chamber as early as Monday night.  If passed it would need to go to the Senate for a concurrence vote.

Omnibus School Safety Legislation
The House on Monday unanimously passed HB938, a comprehensive bill to try to improve school safety.  HB938 would:

  • Require peer-to-peer support programs in all schools with grade 6 and above.
  • Mandate that all public school buildings undergo annual facility vulnerability assessments.
  • Require each LEA to submit an annual report on school resource officers (SROs).
  • Establish training requirements for SROs.

Threat Assessment Teams
HB934 passed the House Wednesday.  This bill would require all local school boards to pass policies creating and providing for threat assessment teams in the LEA.  A threat assessment team would include individuals with expertise in counseling, instruction, school administration, and law enforcement that
conducts threat assessments in the LEA.  It also contains the same language on peer-to-peer support programs in grades 6 and above as is contained in HB938.

National/State Mottos in Schools Act
HB965 passed the House 94-15 Wednesday.  This bill would require all public schools to prominently display both the State motto “To Be Rather Than to Seem,” and the National motto “In God We Trust.”  Examples of “prominent” places where the mottos should be displayed would be an entry way, cafeteria, or other common area.  Only $25,000 would be appropriated to LEAs for this mandate in 2018-19.

Advanced Math Courses
HB986 would require LEAs to offer advanced math courses in grades 3 and up.  It would direct that if a student scores a level 5 on their EOG/EOC they shall be placed into this advanced math course for the next academic year.  This bill passed a House committee and the House floor.  It is now under consideration in the Senate.

Registration is open for NCSBA’s next legislative webinar on June 11 at Noon.  During this free webinar we will give an update on recent legislative activity and look ahead to the coming week.  Click here to register for the June 11 webinar.

Click here to see a list of bills with action this week that NCSBA is tracking.

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – June 8, 2018