April 2020

NCSBA Legislative Alert – April 24, 2020

The Fight Against the Coronavirus

Breaking News: Governor Roy Cooper just announced at a 2:00 pm press conference that public school buildings will remain closed for the rest of the 2019-20 school year. On Thursday, April 23 Governor Cooper extended North Carolina’s stay at home order through May 8 and released a three-stage plan for reopening North Carolina.

NCDHHS has reported 8,052 positive cases for COVID-19 in 93 counties, and 269 deaths from COVID-19 in North Carolina. Click here to access the NCDHHS webpage that keeps North Carolinians updated on the state’s response to the coronavirus. Additionally, NCSBA has been updating its webpage containing information and resources about the coronavirus.

 

New NCSBA Video/Marketing Campaign for School Technology

We are less than a week away from what is anticipated to be an unpredictable and bizarre legislative short session, which will begin with lobbyists and the public prohibited from the legislative buildings until at least May 8. One of the things we have learned from schools shutting down statewide is that additional funding is needed for school technology. Yesterday, the SBE/DPI requested $146 million dollars for remote teaching and digital learning resources.

School technology has been a top priority for local school boards and other public education advocates for years, particularly since the courts ruled in 2008 that various state agencies unconstitutionally diverted almost $750 million dollars away from school technology for nearly ten years. Since that judgment, the State has only paid back $18 million, or 2.5%, of the amount owed.

Now is the time for state leaders to develop a responsible multi-year plan to invest in school technology and pay down the judgment. To bring attention to this important issue, NCSBA developed two videos, a new webpage, and is kicking off a social media marketing campaign to inform parents, educators, lawmakers, business leaders, and the general public. Here is the link to the webpage with both videos: https://www.ncsbac.org/support-student-access-to-school-technology/.

Please show your support by sharing the videos/webpage through social media and rallying your communities to reach out to legislators.

 

From the House Select Committee on COVID-19

The Education Working Group met at 2:00 pm on Thursday, April 23. The Working Group unanimously voted to adopt the Education Omnibus/COVID-19 bill. Click here to view a bill summary, which highlights sections, such as school calendar, that have been added to the bill since last week. New bill sections include:

  • Section 3.8 School Calendar and Attendance – Will allow public school units to begin the school year as early as August 17, 2020. Expresses the GA’s intent to provide two weeks of supplementary jump start instruction in August 2020 for at-risk students and those recommended for additional support, which was requested by the SBE and DPI.
  • Section 4.1 Budget Flexibility – Provides increased flexibility for local boards of education to transfer funds from one allotment category to another within certain limitations for the 2019-20 and the 2020-21 fiscal years.
  • Section 4.2 Delay K-3 Class Size Reduction/Adjust Program Enhancement Teacher Allotment – Delays the K-3 class size reduction requirement for one school year and reduces corresponding funding for program enhancement teacher positions for FY 2020-21.
  • Section 5.2 Intent of General Assembly on 2019-2020 School Growth Scores and Principal Salaries – Expresses intent of the GA to refrain from using 2019-20 school growth score data for the 2020-21 Principal Salary Schedule. Data may be used from the 2018-19 school year or earlier.

It was stated that Working Group chairs will resolve any differences with Senate members concerning the bill prior to the General Assembly’s convening on Tuesday, April 28.

The Working Group was also  presented with K-12 budget requests from DPI and SBE. These budget requests were presented for discussion only, and no votes were taken. K-12 budget requests include:

  • School nutrition services
  • Supplemental pay for child nutrition and transportation employees
  • Remote learning resources
  • Exceptional children services
  • Cybersecurity infrastructure and services
  • Re-entry resources for student physical and mental health
  • Jump Start/Summer Bridge program

The K-12 budget requests totaled $377,096,215. Click here to see dollar amounts for each request.

 

The Continuity of State Operations Working Group met at 2:00 pm on Tuesday, April 21 and 3:00 pm on Thursday, April 23. The Working Group reviewed and amended a draft bill entitled “COVID-19 Time Sensitive Matters”. Bill sections that may be of interest to school boards are as follows:

  • Section 13.5 Carryforward of Drivers Education Funds – Unexpended and unencumbered Drivers Education funds from FY 2019-20 shall not revert but remain available until the end of FY 2020-21. This section was added to the draft bill by an amendment from Representative Torbett.
  • Section 21 Temporarily Remove Barriers to Allow Retirees of TSERS and LGERS to Return to Work on a Part-Time, Temporary, or Interim Basis During State of Emergency Related to COVID-19 – Will temporarily change the six month separation requirement for Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System (TSERS) retirees to a one month separation and applies to individuals retiring on or after October 1, 2019 but before April 1, 2020. Temporarily lifts the earnings caps for TSERS and Local Governmental Employees’ Retirement System (LGERS) retirees from March 10, 2020 until expiration. Representative McNeil had prepared (but did not run) an amendment that would tie the hiring of retirees before six months to a specific COVID-19 issue. It is expected that this will be addressed in the Pensions and Retirement Committee, as the bill moves through the legislative process.
  • Section 27 Remote Participation in Open Meetings – Amends the Emergency Management Act to specifically authorize official meetings of public bodies to be conducted via remote, simultaneous communication during periods of declarations of emergency for public health reasons. Representative Harrison added an amendment to require a telephonic option for remote meetings that are simultaneously streamed live online.

The provision outlines specific requirements for conducting remote meetings and allowing public access. If a quasi-judicial hearing is held remotely, it requires all persons subject to the hearing to consent to it being held remotely. NCBSA believes that this requirement is problematic, given the prescriptive timelines in statute for many of the hearings held by local boards of education. We are working with the legislature to try to alleviate potential problems.

The amended bill was adopted by a unanimous vote and forwarded to the April 28 session. Chairman Bell said further amendments would be considered next week during the session, including adding back a section on agency regulatory relief that was deleted from Thursday’s draft bill.

 

The Economic Support Working Group met at 10:00 am on Tuesday, April 21. The Working Group heard a presentation from Jeff Sural, Director of the Broadband Infrastructure Office in the Department of Information Technology (DIT). Sural reported that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimates that 94.8% of NC households have access to broadband, but only 78.3% of NC households have subscribed to broadband service (2017/18 Census data). It is estimated that 197,139 households with children lack internet access. DIT and DPI estimate that at least 100,000 hotspots are needed to provide student internet access. Sural provided the Working Group with maps of broadband availability and adoption (use of service) across the State. To find free or affordable high speed internet service or public Wi-Fi access locations, use the DIT website: ncbroadband.gov/covid19broadband. At the conclusion of the presentation, Representative Szoka stated that the COVID-19 crisis has shown that “high speed broadband service is more infrastructure than optional service” and that there is a role for government to work with industries providing service.

 

The General Assembly will convene for its 2020 legislative short session at 12:00 pm on Tuesday, April 28.

 

From the State Board of Education

The State Board of Education met at 10:00 am on Thursday, April 23. The Board approved the following:

DPI released guidance instructing public schools to not attempt to complete the 2019-20 educator evaluation process online because (1) the evaluation tool is not equipped for online observation, and (2) there is currently variability in teachers’ access to online instruction training. Because of these circumstances, DPI advised the Board to adopt certain actions regarding teacher evaluations. Click here to read the five recommended actions. Board members discussed releasing more information and clarification regarding the recommended action that states that “SBE and NCDPI will use the most recent, valid summative rating for any teacher who did not receive a summative evaluation in the 2019-2020 school year.” There was concern that progress made over the 2019-20 school year may not be accounted for in teachers’ ratings.

Much discussion centered around the application of the final version of the statewide grading policy presented by DPI staff. The grading policy will allow students in grades 9-11 to choose between receiving a numeric grade or Pass(PC19)/Withdrawal(WC19) for each final course grade. Students will make this decision at the end of the semester after being advised by their teacher/school, in consultation with their parent/guardian. Numeric grades will be calculated into the cumulative GPA, while PC19/WC19 grades will not impact GPA. Additionally, the grading policy states that students in grades K-5 will receive no final grade, students in grades 6-8 will receive PC19/WC19 final course grades, and no student will receive a failing grade.

Click here for all meeting materials.

Click here to view State Board of Education statutory modification recommendations to the General Assembly.

 

From the Governor

Governor’s Press Releases

  • On April 24 Governor Cooper announced that public school buildings will remain closed for the rest of the 2019-20 school year.
  • On April 23 Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 135, which extends the stay at home order through May 8 and continues restrictions on mass gatherings, social distancing, and visitation at long term care facilities.
  • On April 20
    • Governor Cooper announced North Carolina’s approval for the new Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program, which will provide more than 800,000 children with additional food benefits.
    • Governor Cooper participated on a call with Vice President Pence and other governors and gave an update on the work of the NC’s Testing Surge Workgroup.
  • On April 17 Governor Cooper announced NCDHHS’s partnership with state academic partners to examine and understand COVID-19 cases with mild or no symptoms.

 

 

 

 

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 Alert – April 24, 2020
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NCSBA Legislative Alert – April 17, 2020

The Fight Against the Coronavirus

The NCSBA Governmental Relations team continues to follow action being taken by local, state, and federal government in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19). NCSBA has also been updating its webpage containing information and resources about the coronavirus.

NC DHHS has reported 5,859 positive cases for COVID-19 in 93 counties, and 152 deaths from COVID-19 in North Carolina. Click here to access the NCDHHS webpage that keeps North Carolinians updated on the state’s response to the coronavirus.

 

From the House Select Committee on COVID-19

The Education Working Group of the House Select Committee on COVID-19 met at 2:00 pm on Thursday, April 16. The meeting began with review of statutes related to K-12 funding flexibility and K-3 class size issues.

  • K-3 Class Size Reductions
    • Delay the current phase for K-3 class size reductions and program enhancement funding for LEAs by one year
  • LEA Funding Flexibility
    • For the remainder of the 2019-20 school year and the 2020-21 school year, allow LEAs funding flexibility similar to what was permitted in 2013 by prohibiting transfers only from the career and technical education, students with disabilities, and Read to Achieve allotments, and allowing flexibility to transfer from all other allotments
    • For the 2020-21 school year, allow LEAs flexibility to use textbooks allotment to purchase digital learning devices
  • Principal Salaries
    • If the 2020-21 salary scale includes a higher rate of pay based on growth, use growth data up to the 2018-19 school year to control principal salaries through the end of the 2020-21 fiscal year, and do not use any data from the 2019-20 school year

If local school board members have opinions in support of or opposition to these statute modifications, it is important that they communicate with their legislative delegation.

Working Group members were also presented with a 9-page omnibus draft bill, which is a consolidation of last week’s education issues that require immediate attention. The draft legislation was presented for discussion only. There were no amendments and no votes. It was indicated that K-3 class size reductions, LEA funding flexibility, principal salaries, and other concerns will be added to the draft bill. Click here to access the draft bill summary to see the issues addressed. The Education Working Group was told by the chairs that it will be voting on a comprehensive education bill next week. It was also announced that the chairs would be discussing potential changes to the school calendar.

Click here to view a list of statutes that the Education Working Group has recommended to be modified in the upcoming short session.

 

The Continuity of State Operations Working Group of the House Select Committee on COVID-19 met at 2:00 pm on Tuesday, April 14.  The Working Group reviewed a chart of potential legislative actions submitted by state agencies, local government associations, and the committee co-chairs. On pages 3 and 4 of the chart, the following proposals for clarifying the Open Meetings law (Chapter 143, Article 33C) are listed:

  • Clarify authority to meet remotely – full council, other board meetings, public hearings
  • Flexibility with open meeting laws and remote participation
  • Public meeting/public hearing requirements – consideration of some virtual options

 

From the State Board of Education

The State Board of Education met at 12:30 pm on Thursday, April 16 for an emergency meeting. The following legislative requests were approved:

The Board also discussed approval of SBE policy modifications in response to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. It was indicated that the U.S. Department of Education has not clearly stated whether the 2019-20 or 2018-19 ADM numbers are to be used for allotment distribution. The estimate linked below is based on the 2019-20 ADM, so please note that this could change before being finalized.

During discussion of the CARES Act funding, State Superintendent Mark Johnson notified the Board of an SBE request sent to the Office of State Budget and Management (OSBM) on Wednesday, April 15 for $250 million in coronavirus relief. Superintendent Johnson stated that the Board did not know about the request before it was sent by Chairman Eric Davis on the Board’s behalf. Chairman Davis responded by saying that the request will be discussed at a future meeting. Four Board members confirmed their lack of knowledge of the $250 million OSBM request and asked to be sent a copy.

Click here to access all meeting materials.

Click here to view State Board of Education statutory modification recommendations to the General Assembly.

 

From the Governor

Governor’s Education and Nutrition Working Group

The Governor’s Education & Nutrition Working Group held a meeting on Thursday, April 16. The following information was presented.

Mental Health Resources

  • Hope4NC Helpline (1-855-587-3463)
    • Connects North Carolinians to mental health and resilience supports
    • Available 24/7 to speak with a live person
  • Hope4Healers Helpline (919-226-2002)
    • Provides mental health and resilience supports for health care professionals, emergency medical specialists, first responders, other staff who work in health care settings, and their families
    • Currently a reach-out/follow-up model – working towards more immediate contact

Resources

 

Governor’s Press Releases

 

Additional Resources

NSBA Efforts

The following excerpt was published in NSBA’s weekly newsletter on April 10.

“NSBA joined a number of other national K-12 groups in asking Congress to provide an additional $200 billion for K-12 education relief to help offset declining local and state revenues and meet other related student and school needs through Title I, IDEA, and the E-rate program. We intend to continue urging Congress to provide these needed resources as part of the next emergency bill, but the request may not be considered until the CARES Act’s emergency K-12 funds are distributed by the Department of Education to state and local education agencies.”

 

North Carolina 2020 Census Tracker

Carolina Demography has been tracking North Carolina response rates to the 2020 Census. As of April 12:

  • North Carolina’s national rank of census responses is 36 out of 50 states and DC, which is a one rank increase from the previous week
  • 9% of North Carolina households have completed the census, which is below the national average of 47.9%

We ask that local school board members highlight this information to constituents, noting that federal funding, including education funding, relies on this data. The links below contain information about the week ending on April 12.

 

 

 

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 Alert – April 17, 2020
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NCSBA Legislative Alert – April 9, 2020

The Fight Against the Coronavirus

The NCSBA Governmental Relations team continues to follow action being taken by local, state, and federal government in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19). NCSBA has also been updating its webpage containing information and resources about the coronavirus.

DHHS has reported 3,651 positive cases for COVID-19 in 91 counties, and 65 deaths from COVID-19 in North Carolina. Click here to access the DHHS webpage that keeps North Carolinians updated on the state’s response to the coronavirus.

From the State Board of Education and the Department of Public Instruction

The SBE held an emergency conference call meeting at 2:30 pm on Thursday, April 9. Agenda items included:

The SBE approved waiver requests to the General Assembly regarding assessments, assessment-related identification and decisions, school grades and report cards, and assessment-related pay. Click here to see the full list of SBE/DPI waiver requests to the General Assembly.

The SBE also approved the development and implementation of a transportation funding formula that will protect school districts from a reduction in their 2020-21 transportation allotments when being compared to the 2019-20 levels.

The state’s contract extension with Istation requires Istation to “preserve and maintain (1) all systems created pursuant to the State’s June 7, 2019 Contract with Istation and (2) all data generated on Istation by the State, its constituent education units, educators, and students between June 7, 2019 and March 31, 2020”. The contract is extended until June 30, 2020 and will cost a total of $243,310. Under the contract, there will be no state-level Istation data collected, but individual school districts and schools can create contracts with Istation for continued use of formative assessments. This Board-approved contract is much different than the prior proposal, which would have continued state-level assessments until July 31, 2020 and cost a total of $1,178,142. Click here to access a draft statement regarding the SBE’s approval of this contract extension.

Click here to access all meeting materials, including additional recommendations and actions taken in response to COVID-19.

 

From the NC General Assembly – House Select Committee on COVID-19

The Education Working Group of the House Select Committee on COVID-19 met at 2:00 pm on Thursday, April 9. Legislative staff presented statutory requirements in four areas that may require legislative action as a result of COVID-19’s impact on our state. Click on the links below to see a description of the concerns, whether legislative action is needed, and the chairs’ recommendations. The presentation was for discussion only; no votes were taken.

Highlights of Graduation and Testing Recommendations

  • For 2020, waive CPR requirement for graduating seniors
  • Waive requirements for K-3 formative/diagnostic tests not yet completed for 2019-20 school year
  • Waive requirement to administer WorkKeys for the spring 2020 semester
  • Waive school performance scores and grades for 2019-20 school year
  • Continue current identifications of low-performing schools based on 2018-19 data
  • No school selected to enter the ISD in 2020-21 school year
    • Exempt 2019-20 data from three-year cycle assessment – data will include 2018-19, 2020-21, 2021-22 school years
  • Allow principals to make 2019-20 third-grade promotion decisions in the same way as other grades
  • Waive reading camps in 2020 but require reading assessments for all fourth-grade students in 2020-21 school year
  • Waive Read to Achieve reporting requirements for 2019-20 school year
  • Eligibility for principal recruitment bonuses in 2020-21 will be based off of 2018-19 data
  • No action is needed to address teacher reading and math bonuses, as well as bonuses for teachers in AP, IB, AICE, and CTE, because there was no budget passed to fund them
  • Advanced math placement, which is statutorily based on EOC/EOG scores, will instead be made in the same manner as other courses in 2020-21 school year

 

The Continuity of State Operations Working Group of the House Select Committee on COVID-19 met at 2:00 pm on Tuesday, April 7. Charles Perusse, Director of the Office of State Budget and Management (OSBM), gave an update on the fiscal and economic status of the state.

OSBM Actions

  • Moved agency funding allotments from quarterly to monthly during April, May, and June
  • Closely monitoring cash management – the state is currently in good condition
  • Have not imposed any hiring restrictions on state agencies
  • Provided spending flexibility to agencies that depend on receipts
  • Tracking expenditures and lost revenues to be reimbursed with federal funds

Federal Funds

  • Enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) = $13 million to $15 million per week (estimated $700 million per year)
  • Coronavirus Relief Fund = $4.07 billion for state and local governments
  • Disaster Relief Fund = not yet known
  • Education Stabilization Fund = $849 million for K-12 and higher education (no distribution formula yet)

Economic Outlook

  • Expect GDP to contract slightly in Q1 and substantially in Q2, become flat in Q3, and recover in Q4
  • Expect 10% unemployment by the end of 2020 (unofficially, could go as high as 13%)
  • A consensus forecast with the legislative economists will be published by mid-May
  • The delay in income and franchise tax payments to July 15 will shift revenue from this fiscal year to next fiscal year
  • There will be revenue loss in sales taxes and income taxes from business closures

Short Session

  • Before COVID-19, the fund balance at the end of FY 2019-20 was estimated to be $2.3 billion – after COVID-19, the estimated fund balance is unknown
  • Revenue loss and COVID-19 expenditures will be offset by an estimated $2.2 billion from the Coronavirus Relief Fund and $330 million from Enhanced FMAP for FY 2019-20

 

From the Governor

The Governor’s office asked that NCSBA share the following document with our members: Promotional Toolkit – NCDHHS Child Care, Meal Sites & Educational Resources. The document encourages you to share this with parents and families.

Governor’s Press Releases and Executive Orders

  • On April 9 Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 131, which increases requirements and recommendations for social distancing, strengthens long-term care facility rules, and eases the process of filing unemployment insurance claims.
  • On April 8
    • Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 130, which provides emergency statewide expansion of hospital services, hospital beds, emergency childcare services, healthcare personnel, and access to telehealth.
    • Governor Cooper announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) granted the state approval to provide North Carolinians who need to quarantine in response to the coronavirus with housing alternatives, such as dorms, hotels, and trailers.
  • On April 7 Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 129, which gives flexibility for law enforcement training schedules during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • On April 6 a group of North Carolina experts released a model providing guidance and estimates concerning the state’s current social distancing measures.

 

Additional Resources

Message from Governor Bev Perdue

Former NC Governor and public-school teacher, Bev Perdue, wrote an op-ed piece calling for the state to follow the lead of teachers who continue to adjust to online teaching and learning. Governor Perdue states that inequities are currently at the forefront, and technology is not only essential now but will continue to be essential for all students following this pandemic. Click here to read the full article.

Please remember that North Carolina still owes school districts $730 million in school technology funds per a 2008 fines and forfeitures court judgement.

 

John Locke Foundation Online Education Discussion

On Monday, April 6 the John Locke Foundation hosted a virtual discussion about COVID-19 and online education. Lauren Acome, Head of NC Virtual Academy (a K-12 charter school with 2,700 students from 97 counties), and Catherine Truitt, the Republican candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction and Chancellor of Western Governors University NC, were both part of the discussion.

The conversation centered around modernization and innovation of teaching in K-12 public schools. Acome explained that schools need to embrace technology and digital learning and gave advice on how parents can help their students during this time of online learning: create a schedule, designate a workspace, set daily and weekly goals, have students show parents work, and be patient with the online process. Truitt expressed the need for equal access to internet and devices, as well as the use of technology for individualized learning. To read more and to watch the discussion, click here.

 

 

 

 

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 Alert – April 9, 2020
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NCSBA Legislative Alert – April 3, 2020

The Fight Against the Coronavirus

The NCSBA Governmental Relations team continues to follow action being taken by local, state, and federal government in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19). NCSBA has also been updating its webpage containing information and resources about the coronavirus.

DHHS has reported 2,093 positive cases for COVID-19 in 86 counties, and 19 deaths from COVID-19 in North Carolina. Click here to access the DHHS webpage that keeps North Carolinians updated on the State’s response to the coronavirus.

From the State Board of Education and the Department of Public Instruction

The SBE held its monthly Board meeting on Thursday, April 2. While there were presentations about the state’s response to the coronavirus, the SBE also received updates from each Board committee. Click here to access the meeting agenda and materials.

DPI staff presented its COVID-19 Accountability Workgroup Report, which contains state statutes and SBE policies that the group identified as requiring consideration or action based on the approval of NC’s waiver request of assessment and accountability requirements for the 2019-20 school year. The approved waiver would affect:

  • Read to Achieve program
  • Principal and teacher bonuses based on growth and test scores
  • ACT administration
  • CTE testing
  • Identification of qualifying schools for the Innovative School District
  • SBE policy requiring that students’ scores on EOCs or NC Final Exams count toward at least 20% of their final grade
  • State statutes requiring use of EOG/EOC test scores or individual student scores for student placement recommendations

The SBE was also presented with teacher bonus reports, which will be submitted to the General Assembly. Dr. Tomberlin of DPI noted the following two takeaways from the Fourth and Fifth Grade Reading Teacher Bonus Report and the Fourth through Eighth Grade Math Teacher Bonus Report:

  1. There are high percentages of teachers in small NC districts earning reading and math bonuses this year (can be found on Table 1 of both reports), which other districts can learn from
  2. Teachers who earn the bonus have much lower attrition rates than those who don’t earn the bonus

 

Last week the SBE approved a distribution model for the $50 million of flexible funding directed by Governor Cooper to public schools. The model allocates 50% of the $50 million based on the percentage of low wealth students and 50% of the $50 million based on ADM. Click here to see what each LEA and charter school will receive based on low wealth and ADM.

 

From the Governor

Governor’s Education and Nutrition Working Group

The Governor’s Education & Nutrition Working Group held its third meeting on Thursday, April 2. The following information was presented.

Access to safe, affordable childcare and out-of-school time care options

  • As of April 1, ~3,800 providers applied to remain open (about 66% of facilities)
  • Received ~1,600 calls to date and connected 996 families with care for 1,200 children
  • Launched an enhanced referral process to encourage that a family will get a response of a confirmed opening within 3 hours
  • Financial assistance available in April and May for essential workers whose income is below 300% FPL and who attest to having no other childcare options
  • About 9 LEAs are currently operating at least one site in their district and 9 are planning to start operating

 

Access to nutritious food while schools and childcare programs are closed

  • In the last week, 3 million meals were served by ~1,000 meal sites (average of 611,000 meals a day)
  • USDA approved several additional waivers:
    • Allow parental/guardian pick-up of meals in Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and School Nutrition programs
    • CACFP waivers related to monitoring – working group is continuing to approve submitted plans from CACFP institutions to exercise flexibility
    • Allow non-area eligible sites to be approved based on emerging demographics around business closure and unemployment
    • SNAP emergency max monthly allotments for March and April

 

Access to structured learning while schools and childcare programs are closed

  • Over the past two weeks:
    • 125,792 page views on DPI’s remote learning website
    • 9,442 participants in virtual remote learning professional development
    • 1,300 hotspots/devices distributed to students
  • The UNC-TV and DPI partnership “soft” launched on Monday – UNC-TV airing blocks of instructional programming by grade level on the NC channel and online
  • Aggregating the remote learning survey results and will communicate with districts and partners our “next steps” as a result of the feedback
  • Working with the Friday Institute to provide video support to teachers on topics, such as how to support social and emotional learning and children with disabilities
  • Teachers needing additional support can be matched up to mentors/coaches

 

If you have concerns about these issues that you would like the Working Group to address, please email Richard Bostic at rbostic@ncsba.org.

 

Governor’s Press Releases and Executive Orders

  • On March 31 Governor Cooper signed Executive Order 124. The order prohibits utility disconnections; provides guidance about restrictions on evictions; and urges telecommunications providers, banks, and mortgage servicers to provide customers with assistance and flexibility.
  • On March 30 the Governor signed Executive Order 123, which extends the NC Early Childhood Advisory Council.
  • On March 30 Governor Cooper signed Executive Order 122, which calls for the transfer of state property to aid healthcare workers, local governments, and schools.
    • By request, surplus property including computers owned by the state may be requested by governments and school districts, and the state will supply them to try to bridge the digital divide during school closures.”
  • On March 29 Governor Cooper announced that the first payments of COVID-19 unemployment benefits will be paid this week.

Governor Roy Cooper’s statewide stay at home order that was issued on Friday, March 27 in Executive Order 121 began at 5:00 pm on Monday, March 30 and will remain in effect until April 29.

 

From the NC General Assembly – House Select Committee on COVID-19

The Education Working Group of the House Select Committee on COVID-19 met at 2:00 pm on Thursday, April 2. The agenda consisted of presentations from the NC Independent Colleges & Universities, the University of North Carolina System, and North Carolina Community Colleges.

Dr. Hope Williams, President of North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities,  reported the following:

  • Student teaching and counselor interns and students in pre-internship field experiences cannot complete their required weeks
  • Students seeking admission to education preparation programs (EPPs) in fall 2020 cannot take the required Praxis Core test
  • Students seeking admission into EPPs in fall 2020 may not have the required 2.7 GPA, since most spring 2020 classes have become pass/fail
  • Legislative Requests:
    • Waiver of the legislated number of weeks required for student teaching and counselor internships, and for pre-internship field experiences, for spring and summer 2020
    • Waiver of Praxis Core test for EPP admission for the 2020-21 academic year
    • Waiver of the 2.7 individual and 3.0 cohort GPA for students entering EPPs in the 2020-21 academic year
    • Delay implementation of sanctions on EPPs by one year

 

Dr. William Roper, Interim President of the University of North Carolina System, requested the following:

  • Regulatory flexibility for ed prep programs
  • Waive state retirement 6-month break in service requirement for health care and education workers to reenter workforce

 

The Continuity of State Operations Working Group of the House Select Committee on COVID-19 met at 2:00 pm on Tuesday, March 31. Amber Harris, Director of Governmental Relations for the NC Association of County Commissioners (NCACC), spoke to the committee about the challenges faced by counties during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her presentation was taken from a March 31 memo to the State Operations Working Group written by NCACC Executive Director Kevin Leonard. The key points of the memo for school boards are as follows:

  • Open Meetings Laws – The law is not clear about mechanisms to vote remotely and allow public comment and participation.
  • Internet Access – Because a large amount of public school children already lack access to reliable internet, “counties want to help the private sector build permanent or temporary infrastructure to get their internet services to the school children who now have to work from home.”
    • Erin Wynia, Chief Legislative Counsel for the NC League of Municipalities, told the Committee that broadband access could be increased with the passage of the FIBER NC act.
  • County Budget Impact – Counties will experience great difficulty in balancing their budgets for fiscal year 2020-21.
    •  “Sales tax makes up 14-20% of a county’s budget. The economic impact of COVID-19 will likely severely reduce sales tax revenues, and the full impact is unknown.” Counties received $2.3 billion in sales tax revenue in fiscal year 2018-19.
    • “At a time when counties will most need property tax revenue to provide mandated services, many will relax collection efforts on delinquent bills and may adjust property tax rates in response to the crisis.”
    • Although water and sewer services are necessary during this crisis, counties cannot endure the budget loss that will be caused by suspension of disconnection for nonpaying customers.
  • Budget Timelines
    • “Counties will need flexibility for budget deadlines and audit ramifications imposed under the Local Government Budget and Fiscal Control Act.”
    • “While GS 115C-429 requires the local board of education to submit its entire budget to the board of county commissioners by May 15, there will be uncertainty in the timing and what to include in the budget. The county will, in turn, be challenged to know its full revenue picture and may be unable to pay for all of the local board of education’s needs and requests.”

 

The Economic Support Working Group of the House Select Committee on COVID-19 met at 10:00 am on Tuesday, March 31. One presentation that may be of interest to education nonprofits was delivered by Thomas Stith, North Carolina District Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Mr. Stith reported on programs that assist small businesses that have closed or reduced operations due to COVID-19. Mr. Stith’s presentation highlighted the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program that is available to small businesses, including private nonprofit organizations. To receive these loans, a business must:

  • Have a credit history acceptable to SBA
  • Have the ability to repay the loan (this will be determined by SBA)
  • Provide collateral if the loan is over $25,000

A small business or nonprofit can borrow up to $2 million in a 30-year loan, and the interest rate would be 2.75% for nonprofits. The loan funds can be used for payroll, fixed debts, accounts payable, and other bills that could have been paid if not for disaster (in this case COVID-19). While applying for a loan and awaiting payment, the small business or nonprofit can apply for an Emergency Economic Injury Grant of up to $10,000. This grant does not have to be repaid.

 

Also during the meeting, the NC Travel Industry Association stated that it is in strong opposition to allowing an early start to school in August to make up for classroom time that is being lost because of the coronavirus. Executive Director Vince Chelena explained that “This would be a second wave of destruction to hit our coastal communities…If this were to happen, it’s game over for family-owned and small businesses.”

 

 

 

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 Alert – April 3, 2020
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