NCSBA 2021-2022 Legislative Survey
The NCSBA Legislative Committee met two weeks ago to develop a survey on legislative matters. The survey was emailed from Bruce Mildwurf to each school board member on Wednesday, October 7 shortly before 1:00 pm. If you are a school board member who did not receive the survey (please check your junk folder), contact Rebekah Howard at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will send you the survey link. Your responses to the survey will largely determine which issues are among the top legislative priorities on the 2021-2022 NCSBA Legislative Agenda. The deadline to complete the survey is 5:00 pm on Friday, October 30.
State Board of Education
October Monthly Meeting and Fall Planning and Work Session
The SBE met for its fall planning and work session and monthly meeting on October 6-8. Board members were presented with the following:
- New school-based mental health policy
- Updated DHHS COVID-19 guidance
- Overview of COVID-19 funds
- Reports to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee
School-based mental health policy: Board members were presented with 2019 results of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). The results showed increasing rates of mental health challenges and self-harm among NC’s high school students. Board members were also presented with a new school-based mental health policy that would require:
- Universal promotion of mental, social, and emotional wellness though core instruction and curriculum
- Early intervention for mental, social, and emotional needs
- Risk assessment, referral, treatment, and re-entry
This mental health policy follows guidelines that were passed earlier this year in SB 476: School-Based Mental Health (S.L. 2020-7). This law requires the SBE to adopt a school-based mental health policy no later than December 1, 2020, which must include a model mental health training program and a model suicide risk referral protocol for schools. DPI staff presented draft policy features for the Board’s discussion. For more on this part of the meeting, click here.
Updated DHHS COVID-19 guidance: Following Governor Cooper’s announcement on September 17 that the state’s school districts and charter schools can implement Plan A for elementary schools starting on October 5, DHHS updated its COVID-19 guidance for elementary schools. Click here to see key changes made to the DHHS guidance. The following are new DHHS COVID-19 resources:
When Board members were asked to vote in approval of the updated DHHS guidance, Lieutenant Governor Forest proposed a substitute motion to allow all grades in all school districts and charter schools to return to school under Plan A. The Board’s attorney explained that the motion’s purpose is to endorse the DHHS guidance and expressed his belief that the authority to open schools is held by the Governor. Ultimately, after several minutes of confusion and discussion, Lieutenant Governor Forest withdrew his motion, and the Board approved the updated DHHS guidance. For more on this discussion and other SBE agenda items, click here.
Overview of COVID-19 funds: Most SBE meetings since mid-March have included discussion and/or approval of the use of COVID-19 funding. At this month’s meeting Board members were presented with an overview of all COVID-19 state and federal funds approved and distributed, as of September 28. $837.5 million has been distributed to 330 public school units (PSUs), 26 nonprofits, and DPI in 40 different budget line items. For the presentation, click here. For the spreadsheet, click here.
Reports SBE submitted to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee:
- Virtual Public Charter School Pilot Program (presentation)
- Low-Performing Schools
- Career and College Ready Graduate Program
- Accountability Measures for 1st-3rd Grade Students (presentation)
- DPI Study/Improve Outcomes for Students with Disabilities
- Students with Disabilities – Definition of Residence
- SBE Waivers of State Laws or Rules Granted to LEAs
- Fifth Grade Career Awareness Program
September 28 Called Meeting
The SBE addressed COVID-19 policy amendments and additions and the Elementary and Secondary School (K-12) Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund.
In response to HB 1105: Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0 (S.L. 2020-97), Board members approved the following COVID-19 policy amendments and additions:
- $1.5 million for select PSUs and $1.1 million for Communities in Schools of North Carolina, Inc. (PRC 136)
- $11 million for community and home mobile wi-fi (PRC 128)
- $27 million for personal protective equipment for LEAs, charter, lab, regional, and innovative schools (PRC 137)
- ADM hold harmless for LEAs, charter, lab, regional, and innovative schools
Board members were presented with and approved DPI division action plans for the 10% reserve of federal ESSER funds (authorized by the CARES Act). These funds were reserved for state level initiatives (9.5%) and administrative services (0.5%). The following action plans and allotments were approved during the meeting:
- $75,000 for blended learning support
- $250,000 for connectivity exploration
- $4.5 million for district and school transformation regional support
- $720,000 for federal program monitoring and support and internal audit personnel
- $2.2 million for charter school funds (PRC 164)
- $4.5 million for the grant program for childcare during remote instruction (PRC 168)
- $10 million for instructional support reserve funding for exceptional children (PRC 167)
- $10.8 million for digital curriculum resources (PRC 165)
- $200,000 for external evaluation
- $1 million for instructional support partnership
- $3.5 million for learning management platform standardization (PRC 166)
- $322,941 for professional development for K-12 school leaders
- $325,000 for professional development for K-12 teachers
- $100,000 for video lessons
Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee
The Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee met on Tuesday, October 6. Two of the three presentations during the meeting related directly to K-12 education:
DPI officials provided a broad overview of the of the Remote Instruction Plans for the 2020-2021 school year. Click here for the presentation of the report, which is statutorily required.
digiLEARN founder, former Governor Bev Perdue, led the other K-12 education presentation. The non-profit organization is focused on digital learning for all ages and creating a system of instructional opportunities for teachers. They are in the process of completing a report that includes a set of recommendations around competency based micro-credentials. Preliminary findings are expected by the end of November. Click here for the presentation. Click here to learn more about the group’s efforts.
House Select Committee on Community Relations, Law Enforcement, and Justice
The newly formed House Select Committee on Community Relations, Law Enforcement, and Justice met twice in September. At the September 28 meeting, the Committee reviewed a long list of policy recommendations that had been submitted by the public to the Select Committee. On pages 34-37 of this list are the following policy recommendations for juveniles:
- Reduce the use of the juvenile justice system for intervention in bullying
- Eliminate the use of law enforcement for intervention in truancy
- Eliminate School Resource Officers (SROs)
- Require reporting of any referrals to juvenile court from schools and SROs
- Interest students in law enforcement
- ROTC-like high school program for law enforcement
- Pre-high school program to learn about law enforcement and feed into ROTC type program
- College tuition/scholarship program for high school grads to encourage law enforcement training and college degrees for use in law enforcement
The next committee meeting is on October 13 at 10:00 am. An agenda for this meeting has not been posted. Click here to view the meeting. The Governmental Relations team will be monitoring the actions of this committee.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ Controversial Equitable Services Proposal
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) provided us with an update on the CARES Act Equitable Services controversy. In early September, a U.S. District Court struck down a proposed interim final rule from the United States Department of Education (USED) that was aimed to shift a greater proportion of CARES Act funding to non-public K-12 schools. At the time, USED confirmed that the rule was no longer in effect but appeared to indicate that it might further appeal the district court ruling. Secretary DeVos sent a letter to Chief State School Officers on September 25, saying that she would not appeal this ruling but emphasized the Department’s continued disagreement over the issue. Moving forward, schools will be required to share pandemic relief funding with private school students using the same federal formula used in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which is based on the number of low-income students being served. NSBA applauds this latest development, which aligns with previous advocacy work done on this issue.
Reopening of Public Schools
NCSBA has been maintaining a chart containing each LEA’s reopening plan for the 2020-2021 school year. Click here to access the chart.
2020 Statewide Facility Needs Survey
Every five years school districts are required to submit their Facility Needs Survey (FNS). The survey and guidance are available on the DPI School Planning website. The deadline to submit the completed survey is January 8, 2021. Questions about the 2020 FNS should be directed to Nathan Maune, AIA (School Planning Section Chief), via email: email@example.com.
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