Five-Year Facility Needs Survey
School districts are to submit the detailed report by October 30, 2020. Every five years the State of North Carolina requires school districts to estimate the funds needed for new construction, additions, or renovations to existing facilities. The survey requirements were emailed to district superintendents on July 31, 2020, providing a short window of time for facilities departments to complete data collection and submit their report to the State. It is important that you to fill out the survey accurately and completely since State leaders have used the results from past surveys to determine the need for a statewide K-12 bond for school capital.
State Board of Education
August Monthly Meeting
The SBE met for their monthly meeting on Wednesday, August 5, and Thursday, August 6. Board members addressed the following:
- Testing for the 2020-21 school year
- Request to expand virtual charter school enrollment for the 2020-21 school year
- Hold harmless proposal for school district ADM funding
Testing for the 2020-21 school year: The SBE approved DPI’s recommendation requiring all students to take the 2020-21 school year mandatory tests in-person. School districts and charter schools that are beginning the school year with virtual instruction have the option of waiting to give the tests until in-person instruction resumes or arranging for students to take tests at school sanctioned sites that meet DHHS requirements. Mandatory tests include:
- Beginning-of-Grade 3 Test (BOG3)
- End-of-Course Tests (EOCs)
- End-of-Grade Tests (EOGs)
When asked about the fourth-grade reading assessment that must be completed within the first 10 days of the school year, DPI staff confirmed that this assessment can be done remotely. Dr. Tammy Howard, DPI Director of Accountability Services, stated that DPI is not expecting a waiver from the US Department of Education for federally mandated state assessments. Additionally, students who are enrolled in the new virtual academies/programs will be required to take these mandatory tests in person.
School districts are also given the option of administering the 2019-20 school year EOGs in fall 2020, but only for the purpose of providing educators and parents with student performance measures. DPI recommends that “the results from these tests not be used for accountability or any comparison of public school units.” DPI also recommends that the tests be available for in-person and remote students. To access an article summarizing the 2020-21 testing presentation, click here.
Request to expand virtual charter school enrollment for the 2020-21 school year: The Office of Charter Schools (OCS) presented a request to increase enrollment above the statutory maximum for NC’s two virtual charters: NC Cyber Academy (formerly NC Connections Academy) and NC Virtual Academy. This request is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and would only apply to the 2020-21 school year. There is currently a combined waitlist total of almost 9,000 students for the two virtual charter schools. Both schools have said that they are receptive to increasing their enrollment and assured OCS staff that they are equipped to quickly train additional teachers in virtual instruction. As was expected, many Board members had questions and concerns regarding:
- How many students would be allowed to enroll if the motion for “fluid and open enrollment” was approved
- How the virtual charter schools would accommodate increased enrollment
- The location of currently enrolled and waitlisted students
- What students would receive enrollment priority
- How schools plan to deliver quality instruction based on previous years of negative school performance
Board members will be provided with data on the two virtual charter schools and answers to questions and concerns before voting on this item. Because the next SBE meeting is scheduled two weeks after the first day of the 2020-21 school year, the SBE would need to hold a specially called meeting to vote on the enrollment expansion request before the start of the school year.
Since the beginning of their charters in 2016, both NC Cyber Academy and NC Virtual Academy have received D performance grades and have not met growth. If you have concerns about these schools expanding their enrollment, we urge you to contact your SBE members as soon as possible.
Hold harmless proposal for school district ADM funding: SBE Chairman Eric Davis presented an additional agenda item calling for the NC General Assembly to hold school districts harmless for average daily membership (ADM) funding reductions. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, LEAs could potentially experience decreased student enrollment for the 2020-21 school year. This proposal was unanimously approved.
July 24 Called Meeting
During the July 24 meeting, the SBE approved the following agenda items:
- DHHS’s StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Tool Kit (K-12), updated as of July 24, 2020
- Two additional K-3 reading diagnostic tools for the 2020-21 school year
- Modified transportation policy allotment
DHHS’s StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Tool Kit (K-12): The Board approved the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Tool Kit (K-12), updated as of July 24, 2020. Susan Gale Perry, DHHS Chief Deputy Secretary, briefed the Board on the changes made to the toolkit since its initial publication on June 8, 2020. A few of the changes are as follows:
- Effective July 14, 2020 and until further notice, schools must operate under Plan B health and safety requirements unless they choose the more restrictive Plan C
- Schools may choose between Plan B and Plan C at any time
- Schools are expected to offer full-time virtual instruction for higher-risk students and teachers
- Instead of limiting school capacity to 50% as stated in the original toolkit, schools must limit total number of people in the building so that six feet of distancing is possible
- Seating on buses will be limited to one student per seat (unless a family member)
- Guidance is provided on how teachers and staff should interact with each other in the safest way possible (previously only covered students)
- Face coverings are required for all K-12 students, teachers, staff, and adult visitors except when eating, drinking, or strenuously exercising
K-3 reading diagnostic tools for the 2020-21 school year: Board members voted to approve two additional K-3 reading diagnostic tools, bringing the total number to six. After DPI staff confirms that both products are compatible with the Education Value-Added Assessment System, the following two diagnostic tools will be added to the approved list for K-3 reading:
- Amplify Reading 3D
- Edmentum—Exact Path Individualized Learning Solution
At the July monthly meeting Board members approved the following diagnostic tools:
- MAP (NWEA)
- STAR Reading/Early Literacy
There will be no additional vendors considered for the upcoming school year.
Transportation allotment policy: The Board also approved a change in the transportation allotment policy (PRC 056) to authorize DPI to withhold up to $12 million from transportation funding to be used for transportation expenses related to emergency school nutrition services provided between July 1, 2020 and the first instructional day of the 2020-21 school year. This $12 million is authorized by S.L. 2020-80, Section 2.2.
Reopening of Public Schools
NCSBA has been maintaining a chart containing each LEA’s reopening plan for the 2020-21 school year. Click here to access the chart.
Governor’s Education and Nutrition Working Group
The Governor’s Education and Nutrition Working Group held their last meeting on Thursday, July 30. During this meeting there were updates on school reopening, access to childcare, and access to nutritious food.
- The State distributed PPE Starter Packs to all public school units for school nurses and delegated staff in June, which will last schools approximately two months. The PPE Starter Packs include:
- 347,600 disposable surgical masks
- 81,200 disposable gowns
- 16,500 thermometers
- 8,200 reusable face shields
- The State has purchased and distributed five reusable cloth face coverings for each K-12 student, teacher, and staff (over 1.74 million individuals)
- DPI pursuing maximum flexibility to allow districts to spend federal CARES Act funds to pay for resources to meet their needs
Access to Childcare
- DHHS anticipates expending all CARES Act funds allocated for child care
- $34.7 million for emergency child care subsidy, which served 20,000+ children
- $38 million for teacher and staff bonuses (for 25,000+ individuals)
- $57 million for operational grants for 3,800+ open programs in April, May, and June
- Purchased PPE and cleaning supplies
- Projected $23 million for final round of operational grants in July
- Projected $10 million to cover parent copayments for families receiving subsidy in June and July at open programs
Access to Nutritious Food
- Schools have continued to provide meals over the summer
- May: 11.1 million meals at an average of 855 sites
- June: 7.9 million meals at an average of 637 sites
- July: 4.5 million meals at an average of 450 meal sites
- Emergency Meals to You (partnership with Carolina Hunger Institute) continuing through August 30
- Provided meal boxes to over 12,000 children
- Totaling more than 2 million meals since May
- Working with the US Department of Agriculture to understand flexibilities to continue to provide meals to as many children as possible at no cost
- To continue to provide meals by yellow school buses,
- Need to be operating under emergency declaration
- Need approval to use funding source (PRC-056)
- Each local board of education must decide on using funding for meals
National School Boards Association (NSBA) Update
NSBA’s Conference of State Association Legislative Staff (CSALS) held a meeting on Monday, August 3. NSBA staff informed members that there seems to be little progress on a fourth supplemental COVID appropriations bills, and that K-12 education does not seem to be a priority in discussions. The House passed a $1.3 trillion “minibus” spending package for FY 2021, which includes $73.5 billion for the US Department of Education. Even with this bill’s passage out of the House, it is believed that Congress will not enact an education appropriations bill this fall but will instead rely on a continuing resolution to keep education programs funded.
Among NSBA’s efforts is its continued lobbying for $4 billion in funds for the E-Rate program, which will help reduce the homework gap. According to NSBA staff, participation on their “Day of Action” a few weeks ago consisted of 2,200 emails and calls made to Congress in support of this program.
Leanne E. Winner
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
Associate Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association