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NCSBA Legislative Update – May 15, 2020

The Fight Against the Coronavirus

NCDHHS has reported 17,129 positive cases for COVID-19 and 641 deaths from COVID-19 in 99 counties (up from 13,868 cases and 527 deaths last week). 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.

 

This Week at the Legislature

Several interim study committees met this week, including the Working Groups of the House Select Committee on COVID-19. Session will reconvene on Monday, May 18, as House and Senate members have been in their home districts for the past two weeks.

Thursday, May 14 was the filing deadline for non-local bills for the 2020 short session. For a list of education-related bills that were filed, see the “Education Bills” section below.

House Select Committee on COVID-19, Education Working Group

The Education Working Group met on Thursday, May 14. The agenda consisted of presentations on public health considerations on reopening schools for the 2020-21 school year, school nutrition, and school connectivity and the homework gap.

Public Health Considerations on Reopening Schools – Dr. David Stegall, DPI Deputy Superintendent of Innovation, Dr. Beverly Emory, DPI Deputy Superintendent of District Support, and Susan Gale Perry, DHHS Chief Deputy Secretary, presented the following:

  • A draft of a high-level framework to reopen schools – the framework is a collaboration of stakeholders, DPI and DHHS work groups, and the Governor’s office (see slide 2)
  • Four approaches needed to reopen schools
    1. Increase social distancing, including:
      • Place desks six feet apart
      • Reduce class size
      • Stagger school hours or alternate days/weeks for students
      • Eat meals in classrooms
      • Limit group activities
    2. Implement hygiene protocols, including:
      • Minimize use of shared supplies
      • Incorporate handwashing breaks
      • Ensure frequent cleaning and disinfecting
      • Recommend cloth face coverings
    3. Monitor staff and student health, including:
      • Daily symptom screening at school entrance
      • Accommodate high-risk staff
      • Have plans for removing sick students
      • Ensure access to school nurse services
      • Appropriate PPE for school nurses/health personnel
    4. Provide education, including:
      • Post signage for reminders of physical distancing
      • Communicate with families
      • Train staff on COVID-19 strategies

The CDC has also released guidance on reopening schools. Click here and here for these additional resources.

School Nutrition Operations – Dr. Lynn Harvey, DPI Director of School Nutrition and District Operations, presented the following:

  • DPI is currently operating under 21 federal waivers from the USDA
  • Additional funding is needed to continue the current meal program that transports meals to students using school buses – elimination of school buses will reduce meals from roughly 500,000/day to 125,000-150,000/day
  • DPI is seeking a state appropriation to cover the $7.6 million/week budget shortfall to continue providing the current expanded meal program through the summer – the goal is to not transition to the summer meal program, citing the congregate setting as a primary reason
  • Currently 75 of the 115 school districts are providing pay incentives to essential school nutrition personnel
  • DPI is proposing that the $75 million in federal funds allotted through HB 1043 be based on the same proportion of funds as if districts were reimbursed by school meal receipts and federal funds – SBE will consider the allotment at its meeting on Thursday, May 21
    • Working Group chairs requested a follow up about the SBE decision on the allotment and allotment policy

School Connectivity and the Homework Gap – Jeff Sural, Department of Information Technology (DIT) Director of Broadband Infrastructure Office, presented the following:

  • DIT and the Friday Institute have created a survey tool in hopes of identifying every household in the state who does not have connectivity
  • DIT is providing support and guidance to LEAs and DPI on convenience contracts and how to negotiate prices for cell service, hot spots, tablets, laptops, etc.
  • To date, there have been 180 wifi rangers for buses delivered to 36 counties
  • Representatives Corbin (Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Macon) and Hanig (Currituck, Dare, Hyde, Pamlico) emphasized their ongoing concern that remote learning is not feasible in their districts because of lack of broadband access and support

 

Sales Tax Bill

On Wednesday, May 13 the Revenue Laws Study Committee approved a bill for introduction in the 2020 Short Session entitled “Various Sales Tax Changes”. Part III of the bill affects K-12 education as follows (from bill summary by legislative attorney Trina Griffin):

  • Clarifies that the delivery of instruction or training by a public or private K-12 school to an enrolled student or as part of vocational training, regardless of whether it is conducted online in a live or pre-recorded format, is a nontaxable “educational service” and is not the sale of digital property.
  • Exempts sales of audio works or audiovisual works to operators of home schools if the work is a qualifying educational expense under G.S. 115C-595(a)(3).
  • Exempts sales of digital audio works or digital audiovisual works that consist of nontaxable service content when the transfer occurs contemporaneously and in real-time with the provision of the nontaxable service. Examples would include an exercise class, a music lesson, or a financial planning seminar live streamed via Zoom. However, pre-recorded or on-demand webinars would be taxable like any other video.
  • This bill is effective retroactively to October 1, 2019.

The bill was filed as SB 718 by Senator Newton, R-Cabarrus on May 13 and as HB 1079 by Representatives Howard, R-Davie; Ross, R-Alamance; Setzer, R-Catawba; and Szoka, R-Cumberland on May 14.

 

Education Bills

HB 1046: COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave

HB 1047: Educ. Changes for Military-Connected Students (SB 706)

HB 1050: PED/Low-Performing School Districts (SB 725)

HB 1056: WC/COVID-19/Cover Essential Workers

HB 1057: WC/COVID-19 Front Line Coverage/Funds

HB 1069: Retirement Technical Corrections Act of 2020

HB 1071: State/Federal Funds for School Connectivity

HB 1074: Omitted Membership Service/TSERS/LGERS

HB 1079: Various Sales Tax Changes (SB 718)

HB 1084: Bob Jordan Teaching Fellows Restoration Act

HB 1085: Front Line State Employee Hazard Pay/Funds (SB 740)

HB 1088: Invest NC Bond Act of 2020

HB 1105: COVID/Supplementary G.R.E.A.T. Grant Period

HB 1113: Expand Local Option Sales Tax for Education

HB 1116: Enhancing Accessibility to Teacher Prof. Dev.

HB 1122: Provide Affordable Broadband Access to NC

HB 1123: Study of Retention of K-12 Teachers

HB 1126: Enabling Opportunity Scholarship Reporting

HB 1129: Ensure a Sound Basic Education 

HB 1130: Invest in a Sound Basic Education

HB 1131: Teacher Pipeline Development

HB 1132: Study on K-12 Student Retention

HB 1139: Local Boards of Education Budget Flexibility

HB 1146: Prof. Teachers & Admins. Accountability Act

HB 1148: Restore Master’s Pay for Certain Teachers

SB 706: Educ. Changes for Military-Connected Students (HB 1047)

SB 711: Eligibility Changes for Opp Scholarships

SB 718: Various Sales Tax Changes (HB 1079)

SB 724: PED Oversight/EPP Changes (HB 107)

SB 725: PED/Low-Performing School Districts (HB 1050)

SB 740: Front Line State Employee Hazard Pay/Funds (HB 1085)

SB 747: $15/Hour Min. Pay for Noncert. Sch. Employees

SB 749: RO Filling Stations for New Hanover Schools

SB 764: CTE Pilot for Guilford Co. Schools

SB 765: Education Omnibus

SB 766: Rebuild a Better NC Bond Act

SB 769: Municipal Broadband Expansion

SB 771: Restore Educational Sales Tax Holiday

SB 787: Restores Master’s Pay for Teachers

SB 791: Funds for NC Pre-K

 

Governor’s Press Releases

  • On Thursday, May 14 Governor Cooper announced that North Carolina’s key COVID-19 indicators prove that the state remains stable after transitioning into Phase 1 last Friday.

 

From NSBA – HEROES Act

On Tuesday, May 12 the House introduced HR 6800: Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, which would provide the following:

  • $58 billion for K-12 education distributed to LEAs based on the Title I formula
  • $5 billion authorized for the E-Rate program, but only $1.5 billion appropriated

HR 6800 addresses non-binding guidance that would have required LEAs to determine the amount of CARES Act funds spent on private school students based on total enrollments. NSBA sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos explaining how this guidance disregards the requirement that CARES Act funds, specifically Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds, are allocated to LEAs based on Title I funding for the most recent fiscal year. HR 6800 changes the allocation for private school students to be based on Title I funding and includes language intended to prevent the Secretary from altering future allocation guidance.

Before the introduction of HR 6800, NSBA had requested $200 billion for K-12 education:

  • $175 billion to the states
  • $13 billion to IDEA
  • $12 billion to Title I

Additionally, NSBA had requested $4 billion in E-Rate funding.

 

 

 

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 – May 15, 2020