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NCSBA Legislative Update – June 26, 2020

This Week at the Legislature

This week was full of long days and late nights as both the House and the Senate wrapped up this portion of the 2020 legislative short session. Thursday night bled into Friday morning as conference committees settled disagreements and legislators voted on the passage of this session’s final bills. In addition to existing education bills, legislators sent four bills containing newly added K-12 education provisions to the Governor for final approval: HB 1023, SB 113, SB 212, and SB 681. See summaries of these bills below. While there were other education bills with movement this week, including the bond bill, the adjournment resolution does not allow further consideration of these bills when legislators return in September. However, we encourage you to read this op-ed by J. Wendell Hall published in EdNC concerning the need for a bond.

Although legislators finished all major business this week, Senate leader Phil Berger stated that they could meet again in the next two weeks for veto override votes or other pertinent issues. The adjournment resolution schedules a reconvening on September 2, 2020, but only to address COVID-19 funding, appointments, and veto overrides. Before the Senate adjourned early this morning, Senator Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, unexpectedly announced his retirement. Senator Tillman served in the Senate for 18 years and chaired the Senate Education and Senate Education Appropriations Committees for many years.

 

Statewide bills with new education provisions:

HB 1023: Coronavirus Relief Fund/Additions & Revisions

A Senate Appropriations Committee substitute replaced the contents of the original bill with modifications to HB 1043: 2020 COVID-19 Recovery Act (S.L. 2020-4), as well as additional provisions and appropriations. The bill does the following:

  • Extends the use of emergency school nutrition funds through December 30, 2020 and expands the program to include summer meals
  • Allocates $7 million for personal protective equipment for public schools and to facilitate in-person instruction for the 2020-21 school year
  • Allocates $5 million to DPI to award grants for services to exceptional children who lost critical services due to COVID-19 school closures
  • Permits DPI to withhold up to $12 million from the transportation allotment to cover transportation expenses related to emergency school nutrition services in the summer of 2020
  • Requires SBE to report on unpaid meal charges
  • Requires DPI to transfer $3.9 million in nonrecurring funds from the School Bus Replacement Fund to cover costs of reduced-price lunches
  • Allocates $2.5 million to establish a statewide pilot program to promote access to innovative digital and personalized learning solutions for high school students
  • Reduces appropriations to the School Technology Fund by $18 million in nonrecurring funds and appropriates these funds to the School Business System Modernization Plan

 

SB 113: Education Omnibus

The permanent year-round school definition was removed from this bill on Wednesday, June 24 and added to SB 212 (see below) after 1:00 am this morning. The conference committee substitute for SB 113 does the following:

  • Authorizes flexibility in adopted single-track year-round calendars when needed to address the health and safety of students for the 2020-21 school year, as long as the altered calendar otherwise meets requirements for year-round schools
  • Modifies the definition of year-round schools to be calendars adopted prior to March 1, 2020 and modifies the definition of a single-track year-round school as providing an average of 44 to 46 instructional days followed by an average of 15 to 20 vacation days throughout the school year
    • This section address issues in Wake County but may pertain to other single-track year-round schools
  • Authorizes LEAs to use additional remote instruction days when needed to address the health and safety of students for the 2020-21 school year
  • Extends the use of emergency school nutrition funds through December 30, 2020 and expands the program to include summer meals
  • Exempts certain school psychologists from NC Psychology Board Licensure
  • Clarifies usage of Digital Learning Plan funds to economically distressed counties
  • Allows local management entity/managed care organization reinvestment plans to include providing assistance to public school units
  • Revises the school administrator intern stipend to be based on the higher of the beginning salary of an assistant principal or, for a teacher who becomes an intern, at least as much as they would earn as a teacher on the salary schedule
  • Extends the maximum grant term from five to six years for the NC Transforming Principal Preparation Program

 

SB 681: Agency Policy Directives/2019-2020

The conference committee substitute contains the following K-12 education provisions that were included in the 2019 vetoed budget bill:

  • Requires LEAs to publish the schedule of fees on their website each school year instead of reporting to the Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Directs the SBE to include the completion of one arts education credit between grades six through 12 as a graduation requirement
  • Requires the SBE to establish an advanced teaching roles program that links teacher performance and professional growth to salary increases
  • Expands the Schools That Lead Pilot Program from 60 to 75 schools

 

SB 212: Capital Appropriations/R&R/DIT/Cybersecurity

The conference committee substitute contains a provision making permanent the temporary 2020-21 school year definition of a year-round school. At least one of the following plans would need to be utilized to be considered year-round:

  1. A plan dividing students into four groups and requiring each group to be in school for assigned and staggered quarters each school calendar year.
  2. A plan providing students be scheduled to attend 45 instructional days followed by 15 days of vacation, repeated throughout the school calendar year.
  3. A plan dividing the school calendar year into five nine-week sessions of classes and requiring each student to attend four assigned and staggered sessions out of the five nine-week sessions to complete the student’s instructional year.

 

Additional statewide education-related bills with legislative action this week:

HB 1087: Water/Wastewater Public Enterprise Reform

  • Part III appropriates VW settlement funds, of which a portion is directed to the School Bus Program

 

HB 308: Regulatory Reform Act of 2020

  • Conference committee substitute adopted by the House and Senate and presented to the Governor on Thursday, June 25
  • Extends provisions of section 4.23 of SB 704: COVID-19 Recovery Act (S.L. 2020-3)
    • Reduces the waiting period from six months to one month for retirees who retired on or after October 1, 2019 but before April 1, 2020 to return to work for a position that is needed due to the COVID-19 pandemic
    • Extends the period for retirees to return to work from August 1, 2020 to August 31, 2020

 

HB 158: COVID-19 New Driver Response – signed into S.L. 2020-30 on Friday, June 19

HB 1050: PED/Low-Performing School Districts – passed the Senate and presented to the Governor on Wednesday, June 24

HB 1053: PED/Military OL & Audiology Interstate Compct – passed the Senate, concurred in the House, and presented to the Governor on Wednesday, June 24

HB 1096: UNC Omnibus Changes/UNC Lab School Funds – passed the Senate, concurred in the House, and presented to the Governor on Thursday, June 25

SB 816: CC Funds/CIHS Funds/CR Funds and Offsets – conference committee substitute adopted and presented to the Governor on Thursday, June 25

 

Local education-related bill with legislative action this week:

SB 796: Carteret Co. Bd. Of Educ. Districts – concurred in the Senate and became S.L. 2020-34 on Wednesday, June 24

 

The Governmental Relations team will provide a complete 2020 Legislative Summary in the coming weeks.

 

Reopening Public Schools

On Wednesday, June 24 Governor Cooper announced a statewide requirement for face coverings as the State continues to abide by the “Safer at Home” phase of reopening. Following this announcement, DHHS released an updated FAQ on its updated school reopening guidance. The FAQ states that masks are required for all school staff, adult visitors, and middle and high school students when within six feet of another person inside school buildings, anywhere on school grounds, and while traveling in school buses or other transportation vehicles. Although masks are not required for elementary school students, they are strongly encouraged.

Earlier this session, legislators passed a provision in SB 704: COVID-19 Recovery Act (S.L. 2020-3) exempting the State’s anti-mask law through August 1, 2020. While the House approved an amendment in SB 782 that would extend the exemption through February 2021, the provision was later removed before passing both chambers. Click here to read an article about the controversy.

The Governor, in collaboration with DHHS, DPI, and SBE, will announce next Wednesday, July 1 which plan will be utilized for the reopening of public schools in the 2020-21 school year. DPI’s 116-page guidance proposes three potential plans: Plan A requiring minimal social distancing, Plan B requiring moderate social distancing, and Plan C requiring remote learning.

 

 

 

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 – June 26, 2020