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NCSBA Legislative Update – August 30, 2019

This Week at the Legislature

Budget Update

While there is still no State budget in place, the legislature’s piecemeal budget approach continued this week. The General Assembly passed and sent an array of mini budget bills to the Governor that provide pay increases for State Highway Patrol officers (HB 126), State employees (HB 226), law enforcement officers of the State Bureau of Investigation and Alcohol Law Enforcement (HB 777), and State adult correctional facility employees (HB 609).

HB 426: Educators’ Pay Increases/Retiree Supplements, which was also heard on the House floor this week, includes salary increases for noncertified public-school employees, as well as salary increases for employees of the Community College System and the University of North Carolina. The bill passed the first of two required votes (click here to see vote) but was referred back to a House committee before the second vote. Noncertified public-school employees would receive a 1% salary increase in the 2019-20 fiscal year, and it is the General Assembly’s intent to provide another 1% increase in the 2020-21 fiscal year. That salary increase compares to a 2.5% increase for State employees, with recurring dollars in both years. HB 426 also provides a 0.5% annual increase in each year of the biennium for retirees. Although the bill is labeled “Educators’ Pay Increases”, it does not provide a salary increase for teachers or administrators.

House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate Leader Phil Berger publicly stated that these mini budget bills include the exact numbers and language that was in the vetoed budget bill. They stated that they only plan to move forward in areas that are not in dispute with the Governor’s proposed budget, which is the reason that teacher pay was not included in HB 426. Speaker Moore was reported as saying that some form of HB 426 will return to the House floor as a conference report, which means that it can only get an up-or-down vote and cannot be amended.

 

What to Expect

Both the House and the Senate confirmed that they will not be holding voting sessions or committee meetings next week. At a press conference this week, Senator Berger said that school safety will be addressed in the next round of piecemeal budget bills when they return the week of September 9.

 

Highlights of K-12 Education Bills

SB 438: Excellent Public Schools Act of 2019 (Read to Achieve)

  • Vetoed by the Governor on Friday, August 23 and referred to the Senate Rules Committee
  • Primary Sponsor: Senator Berger, R-Rockingham

Last Friday, August 23, Governor Cooper vetoed SB 438: Excellent Public Schools Act of 2019. Click here to see his veto message. The Governor’s veto of SB 438 comes as the legal fight between Istation and Amplify progresses. This dispute concerns the new contract that State Superintendent Mark Johnson signed with Istation in an effort to improve the Read to Achieve program, which is basis of SB 438. This week Superintendent Johnson announced a deal to continue Istation training for teachers while the legal review of how the State’s contract with Istation was awarded continues.

Below are articles on this issue.

 

SB 621: Testing Reduction Act of 2019

  • Conference Report adopted by the House and the Senate on Monday, August 26
  • Presented to the Governor on Wednesday, August 28
  • 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

 

HB 852: Historic School Preservation Act

  • Approved by the House Finance Committee
  • Primary Sponsors: Representatives Adams, R-Catawba; Beasley, D-Mecklenburg; Warren, R-Rowan; Presnell, R-Yancy
  • Incentivizes the rehabilitation of historic educational buildings by increasing the historic rehabilitation tax credit if the certified historic structure is used for an educational purpose
  • This bill may be of interest to LEAs that have surplus property that can be sold or have a building that could be renovated and leased back

 

Since both the House and the Senate will not be holding voting sessions or committee meetings next week, NCSBA will not be sending out a weekly Legislative Update on Friday, September 6.

 

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 30, 2019