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NCSBA Legislative Update – August 23, 2019

This Week at the Legislature

Budget Update

On Wednesday, legislative leaders announced a piecemeal budget approach. The Senate initiated this approach with the Senate Appropriations Committee’s approval of HB 609: Salary Increases/Adult Correctional Employees on Wednesday, followed by the Senate Rules Committee’s approval on Thursday. This bill would give corrections officers the pay raises and additional annual leave that is included in the vetoed State budget. HB 555: Medicaid Transformation Implementation, which would appropriate funds for Medicaid operations, was also cleared this week by The Senate Health Care Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, stated that additional bills providing pay raises for State employees, including teachers, will be considered in the House next week. These pay raises may be revealed in the House Appropriations Committee meeting on Tuesday, August 27. Additionally, the Senate Finance Committee approved HB 74: Taxpayer Refund Act, which would distribute roughly $663 million of the $900 million budget surplus back to N.C. taxpayers.


As the World Turns – K-3 Reading Assessment Dispute

As the legal battle between Istation and Amplify continues, the Department of Information Technology (DIT) has ordered a hold on the State’s contract with Istation, the new company chosen to test the reading skills of K-3 public school students. Amplify, which was not chosen by State Superintendent Mark Johnson for a contract renewal, has requested a review of how the contract was awarded. Despite DIT’s order, Istation’s President has stated that the company will continue to train teachers in preparation for the new school year. Superintendent Johnson sent out a public statement on Thursday afternoon denouncing the legitimacy of DIT’s order, claiming that it was in contradiction with State law and DIT agency rules because DIT only heard arguments from one party, Amplify, before reaching a verdict. He further announced that DPI has filed a motion to dissolve the stay.

The following three articles explain the contract, the legal battle, and how this affects teachers and students.


The following two articles cover Superintendent Johnson’s public statement.


Highlights of K-12 Education Bills

SB 621: Testing Reduction Act of 2019

  • Conference report submitted and placed on the House and Senate calendars for Monday, August 26
  • Primary Sponsors: Senators Tillman, R-Randolph; Ballard, R-Watauga; Sawyer, R-Iredell
  • Eliminates the NC Final Exam beginning with the 2020-21 school year
  • Requires annual reports on the progress of the NC personalized assessment pilot, which implements a through-grade assessment model and the goal to eliminate the EOGs and EOCs
  • Establishes plans to reduce standardized testing by LEAs by requiring local school boards, in each even-numbered year, to review locally required standardized tests
  • Requires reimbursement of up to $75.00 for expenses related to graduation projects for any economically disadvantaged student in a LEA that has a graduation project requirement
  • Requires DPI to examine third grade English Language Arts assessments to ensure alignment with Read to Achieve
  • Requires SBE to determine and analyze the necessary steps to transition to a competency-based assessment and teaching model for all elementary and secondary students (included in SB 476: Compt-Based Assess. & Mental Hlth/Teen Viol.)
  • Clarifies that the definition of a high-need retired teacher in SB 399: Rehire High-Need Teachers (S.L. 2019-110) is one that works at least 30 hours a week for 9 months or more – this allows the rehiring of retired teachers under the earnings cap, as long as they do not work more than 30 hours a week for 9 months or more
  • Expands SB 219: Modify Teacher Licensing Requirements (S.L. 2019-71) to apply to residency licenses (RL)
    • Extends the timeline from two to three years for RLs to pass any necessary licensure tests
    • Adds RLs to the list of individuals who are eligible for a limited license if they failed to fulfill examination requirements after three years of licensure


SB 681: Rur Hlth Care/Loc. Sales Tax Flex/Util. Acct.

  • Conference Committee appointed (click here to see conferee list)
  • Primary Sponsors: Senators Berger, R-Rockingham; Tillman, R-Randolph
  • Both the Senate and House versions of the bill include the Rural Health Care Stabilization Program
  • The House added Part II of the bill which grants counties additional flexibility in using the local option sales and use tax authorized in S. 105 Article 46 without increasing the existing maximum tax rate—the local tax could be used for public school capital outlay purposes or to retire any indebtedness incurred by the county for public education purposes
    • That bill language was taken from HB 667: Local Option Sales Tax Flexibility, sponsored by Representatives Howard, R-Davie; Saine, R-Lincoln; Szoka, R-Cumberland; Hunter, D-Hertford—HB 667 passed the House but has not yet been considered in the Senate
  • On Thursday, part of SB 681 (not including the local sales tax flexibility) was placed into HB 704: Rural Health Care Stabilization Act, which will go to the Senate Rules Committee, then the Senate floor, and then return to the House for concurrence


August 26-30 Legislative Meeting Calendar

Tuesday, August 27

9:00 am – House: Appropriations – Legislative Office Building, rm 643 (audio)



Leanne E. Winner
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6686

Bruce Mildwurf
Associate Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6692

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6677

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6688

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – August 23, 2019