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NCSBA Legislative Update – May 22, 2020

The Fight Against the Coronavirus

NCDHHS has reported 21,618 positive cases for COVID-19 and 728 deaths from COVID-19 in all 100 counties (up from 17,129 cases and 641 deaths in 99 counties last week). Click here to access the DHHS 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

Both the House and Senate returned to somewhat of a normal week at the legislature. Committee meetings and voting sessions were held, and although it was the last week for meetings of the House Select Committee on COVID-19, working groups did not meet. Senate Leader Phil Berger announced that he plans for the Senate to be in session no longer than four to six weeks but is aware that the coronavirus could change those plans.

Despite the current circumstances, the NCSBA Governmental Relations team is still monitoring committee action, tracking education-related bills, and maintaining contact with legislators, as well as SBE staff and the Governor’s education team. Additionally, the GR team has been closely watching SB 719: Retirement Protection Act to ensure that changes to rule making are not retroactive.

On Monday, May 18 House Speaker Tim Moore expressed his interest in considering a bond referendum that would fund K-12 construction. This announcement follows the filing of HB 1088: Invest in NC Bond Act of 2020 last week, which the Speaker stated he was previously not aware of. Also this week, NCSBA initiated a meeting with school capital coalition partners.

On Tuesday, May 19 the House and Senate passed a joint resolution extending the bill filing deadline for budget-related bills to 4:00 pm on Tuesday, May 26. Senator Berger announced in a press conference that he expects budget losses to be as high as $4 billion due to lack of tax revenues. Legislative staff and the state budget office are expected to release consensus revenue numbers later today.

One bill to note that was filed this week that could affect districts’ budgets for the upcoming fiscal year is SB 809: Salary-Related Contrib/Debt Service Funds, which increases the State’s employer contribution rates budgeted for retirement for teachers and State employees from 14.36% to 14.78%.

The following education-related bills were introduced this week:

HB 1153: Iredell-Statesville Bd. of Ed/Election Method

SB 793: Expand Local Option Sales Tax for Education (HB 1113)

SB 794: Nash Bd. of Ed. Name Change

SB 800: Law Enforcement & Teacher Protection Act

SB 809: Salary-Related Contrib/Debt Service Funds

SB 818: Funds to DPI for ADM Growth

SB 819: Authorize Teacher-Gov’t Em’pee Housing/Bertie (SB 8)

The following education-related bills had legislative action this week:

HB 1079: Various Sales Tax Changes – passed the House and placed on the Senate calendar for Tuesday, May 26

SB 719: Retirement Protection Act – approved by the Senate Pensions and Retirement and Aging Committee and referred to the Senate Rules Committee

 

State Board of Education Meeting – May 21

The State Board of Education met for a called meeting on Thursday, May 21. Board members addressed the following:

State Superintendent Mark Johnson announced to the Board that LEAs will be able to choose which K-3 reading diagnostic tool they would like to use for the upcoming 2020-21 school year. Superintendent Johnson stated that DPI is preparing a list of reading diagnostic tools and an allotment policy to be brought before the Board for approval.

Remote Instruction Plan: The Board approved a new SBE policy requiring LEAs and charter schools to develop and submit a Remote Instruction Plan (RI Plan) for the 2020-21 school year no later than July 20, 2020. This policy is in response to SB 704: COVID-19 Recovery Act (SL 2020-3). The original policy includes 13 components for response, but Board members voted to add an additional component concerning response to needs of English learners, Academically and/or Intellectually Gifted (AIG) learners, and students identified as homeless under the McKinney-Vento Act. Per request of school districts, Board members also voted to include a component allowing districts to describe limitations preventing implementation of quality remote learning. The policy and RI Plan will be presented to school districts through a webinar on June 2.

Teacher licensure, evaluation, and education policy: Dr. Tomberlin, DPI Director of Educator Recruitment and Support, presented SBE policy revisions, including requirements for EPP admissions, clinical internships, and school administration prep programs. The revisions come from SB 704: COVID-19 Recovery Act (SL 2020-3). Dr. Tomberlin noted a few considerations for the Board, including potential issues for current Emergency License holders seeking a Residential License. Although EPP admissions requirements have been waived by state statute, many EPPs have not waived requirements because of the impact on accreditation. Dr. Tomberlin stated that DPI currently does not have a solution for mandating EPPs to accept candidates. Click here for a full list of policy revisions.

Board members approved one revision to the NC Public Schools Benefits and Employment Policy Manual. Section 16.3 was revised to align with Section 4.23(a) of SB 704: COVID-19 Recovery Act (SL 2020-3), which reduces the waiting period from six months to one month for TSERS retirees who retired on or after October 10, 2019 but before April 1, 2020 to return to work. DPI staff clarified that public schools wishing to utilize this exception should contact the NC Retirement System, not DPI.

The SBE approved an extension to the State of Emergency Leave policy until June 15, 2020. An additional revision was made to the policy to clarify that school district employees whose work calendars end before June 15 are not entitled to emergency leave for days that they were not expected to work.

The Board approved provisions and allotments for the distribution of the $75 million in CARES Act funds allocated to school nutrition through HB 1043: 2020 COVID-19 Recovery Act (SL 2020-4). Dr. Lynn Harvey, DPI Director of School Nutrition and District Operations, stated that the USDA has confirmed the SBE’s use of the federal funds for meal distribution to students.

Board members approved policy and allotment amendments regarding use of federal Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds authorized by the CARES Act. Newly opened and significantly expanded charter schools are now eligible for a portion of funds.

Click here for all meeting materials.

 

Governor’s Press Releases

 

May 26-29 Legislative Meeting Calendar

Tuesday, May 26

2:00 pm – Senate: Commerce and Insurance – Legislative Offices Building, rm 643 (audio)

3:00 pm – House: State and Local Government – Legislative Building, rm 1228/1327 (audio)

 

Wednesday, May 26

11:00 am – Senate: Education/Higher Education – Legislative Building, rm 1027/1128 (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 – May 22, 2020