July 2020

NCSBA Legislative Update – July 10, 2020

This Week at the Legislature

Legislators met in Raleigh for two days this week to wrap up any unfinished business before adjourning until September 2. On Tuesday, the House Rules Committee replaced the contents of SB 374 with language that would allow local boards of education to schedule remote learning days prior to August 24. In hopes of modifying language in SB 113: Education Omnibus (S.L. 2020-49) that requires schools to have an opening date of August 17 but, based on guidance from legislative staff, prohibits remote learning prior to August 24, the House quickly passed SB 374 and sent it to the Senate. The bill only made it to the Senate Rules Committee before the legislature’s adjournment on Wednesday. Because the Senate did not choose to take up the bill, Senate leader Phil Berger stated that the first week of school will be in-person instruction. Click here to read more about Senator Berger’s statements. Now all eyes turn to the Governor and his announcement next week on the reopening of school.

The Governmental Relations team will be sending out the 2020 Legislative Session Summary on Tuesday, July 14.

 

Reopening of Public Schools

During Thursday’s press conference, Governor Cooper stated that next week he will announce which plan will be utilized for the reopening of public schools in August, which will include information about face covering requirements in schools. Click here for an article further explaining the Governor’s expected school reopening announcement. As a reminder, DPI/SBE’s school reopening guidance proposes three potential plans: Plan A requiring minimal social distancing, Plan B requiring moderate social distancing, and Plan C requiring remote learning.

In national news, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos stated that federal education funding could be withheld if schools do not reopen for in-person instruction this fall. Following this announcement and the President’s criticism of the CDC’s school safety guidelines, the Vice President stated that the CDC will release another round of guidance for schools next week.

As school start dates are quickly approaching, states will begin utilizing more of their CARES Act funds. This week, several states filed a lawsuit challenging DeVos’s rule that requires a portion of CARES Act funds for public school districts to be reserved for private schools. This rule was included in the Secretary’s nonbinding guidance released in April, which the states claim is an inaccurate and unlawful interpretation of the CARES Act language. Click here to read more about the lawsuit.

 

State Board of Education

The State Board of Education met for their monthly meeting on Wednesday, July 8, and Thursday, July 9. Board members addressed the following:

K-12 social studies standards adoption: The SBE voted to delay the adoption of new K-12 social studies standards by one year, per request of teachers. The request is due partly to the circumstances of COVID-19 but also to an overarching call for more diverse history standards. To read more about the conversation around modifying these standards, click here. DPI will continue to shape the standards and present new versions to the Board for approval in early 2021. Because of the vote to delay, Board members also voted to modify social studies graduation requirements for freshmen starting in 2020-21. These freshmen will be required to take world history and economics and personal finance before graduating, as well as either the new or current founding principles course and either the new American history course or one of the two current American history courses.

2020-21 K-3 reading diagnostic: For the 2020-21 school year, public schools will have the opportunity to choose a K-3 reading diagnostic tool from a list approved by the SBE. From the list of potential diagnostic tools, four were approved: Istation, MAP (NWEA), STAR Reading/Early Literacy, and i-Ready. Many tools were not approved due to their incompatibility with EVAAS, including Amplify Reading. Board members were told that Amplify, as well as Imagine Learning, are working towards gaining approval but will most likely not come before the Board until too late into the school year for implementation.

CARES Act budget proposals: Board members were presented with two budget proposals for the 10% reserve of CARES Act funds that DPI was not required to subaward to LEAs, innovative, regional, charter, and lab schools. The first proposal was created with input from DPI staff, LEAs, local representatives, and other education stakeholders. The second proposal was based off the first but includes input from the SBE’s Business Operations Committee (BSOP). Both proposals were similar in many respects, with differences including funding for childcare, exceptional children services, and development of curriculum. The Board voted 7-3 to approve the BSOP proposal.

DHHS’s COVID-19 update: The Board was presented with data on children and schools, guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics, and methods for protecting vulnerable populations. While schools have not proven to be major hotspots for COVID-19 transmission and children are less likely to become infected, DHHS presenters noted the importance of protecting all children, including the most vulnerable and those from communities that have been disproportionately affected by the virus. Based on the information presented, Board members noted the importance of giving families the option of remote learning, as well as protecting teachers and staff who are more susceptible to spread of the virus. For more on the data and information presented, click here.

Click here to access all meeting materials.

 

John Locke Foundation Virtual Discussion on Education

Tomorrow morning at 10:00 am the John Locke Foundation is hosting a virtual event that will address “the future of education, how we should best serve our kids, and how we energize the teaching profession by broadening the applicant pool and rewarding effective teachers.” Guest speakers include Senator Deanna Ballard of Watauga County and State Board of Education member Dr. Olivia Oxendine. Click here for more details and how to watch. Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement of the presentation content, as we have no advanced knowledge as to what will be presented.

 

 

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 – July 10, 2020
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