On November 3, North Carolinians voted to maintain the Republican majority in the state legislature for the next two years.
The NC Senate went from 29 Republicans and 21 Democrats to 28 Republicans and 22 Democrats. Click here for NC Senate election results.
- Two Democrats won open Republican seats in Democrat-leaning districts (Wake and Mecklenburg).
- One Republican flipped a Democrat seat in a toss-up district (former NC Senate Education Chair Michael Lee, New Hanover).
In the NC House, the Republican majority increased by four seats from 65 Republicans and 55 Democrats to 69 Republicans and 51 Democrats. Click here for NC House election results.
- Four Democrats lost seats that they flipped in 2018 (Wake, Watauga, Mecklenburg, and a multi-county district in western NC). It should be noted that three of the losses were in Republican-leaning districts.
- Another one term Democrat incumbent lost in a Republican-leaning district that had previously been held by a Democrat for five terms (Montgomery, Richmond, and Stanly).
- Two Republican incumbents lost in Democratic-leaning districts (Pitt and Alamance).
- Another Republican won an open Democrat seat that was rated as leaning Democrat (Cumberland).
We encourage you to congratulate your delegation for winning their seat in the legislature. The General Assembly will soon reconvene on January 13, 2021 for the legislative long session.
Catherine Truitt (R) defeated Jen Mangrum (D) in the race for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Truitt is a former schoolteacher and currently serves as the chancellor of Western Governors University North Carolina. Truitt previously served as the Senior Advisor on Education to former Governor Pat McCrory. She is a proponent of local control, early grade literacy, and school choice.
Click here for NC Council of State election results. For more on each race, click here.
- Governor Cooper (D)
- Lieutenant Governor Robinson (R)
- Attorney General Stein (D)
- Auditor Wood (D)
- Agriculture Commissioner Troxler (R)
- Insurance Commissioner Causey (R)
- Labor Commissioner Dobson (R)
- Secretary of State Marshall (D)
- Superintendent of Public Instruction Truitt (R)
- Treasurer Folwell (R)
There were several local referenda decided on election day.
- School bond issues in Camden, Carteret, and Guilford counties were approved by 72-73% of the voters.
- Unfortunately, local ¼ cent sales tax votes failed in Alleghany, Carteret, Chowan, Guilford, and Yadkin counties. County commissioners in these areas had pledged part or all the sales tax proceeds to school capital.
State Board of Education
November Monthly Meeting
The SBE met for its monthly meeting on November 4-5. Board members were presented with the following:
- FY 2020-2021 Legislative and Budget Priorities
- Updated DHHS COVID-19 Guidance
- Center for Safer Schools Update
- School-Based Mental Health Policy
FY 2020-2021 Legislative and Budget Priorities: DPI staff presented the Department’s legislative and budget priorities for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, which totals $417.5 million. Legislative and budget priorities include:
- Early grade reading, which includes a statewide training on the “Science of Reading” and a “Home Reading Support Program” ($7.6 million)
- Teacher and principal preparation, professional development, and compensation ($143 million for teachers and $27.6 million for principals)
- Supporting the whole child/social, emotional, and mental health ($153.5 million)
- Connecting high school to postsecondary and career opportunities ($9.4 million)
For the full list of legislative and budget requests, click here.
The presentation also included a review of last year’s budget, the current year’s budget, and the budget preparation process for the coming fiscal years. Most Board member discussion centered around DPI’s statement that NC ranks second in the Southeast for average teacher compensation. Requests for additional DPI data include (1) how many NC teachers earn the average salary, (2) comparison of average teacher salary compensation with a cost-of-living index for each state, and (3) disaggregation of teacher salary ranking based solely on state allocations versus including local allocations. These legislative and budget priorities will be before the SBE for additional discussion at the December meeting.
Updated DHHS COVID-19 Guidance: DHHS staff updated Board members on NC’s COVID-19 case count and metrics. As of November 3, there are 297 cases associated with the 34 currently active K-12 clusters. In total, there have been 390 cluster-associated cases among all active and complete K-12 clusters, and there have been zero deaths linked to these clusters. Additionally, DHHS noted that in NC, the US, and internationally, schools are not seen as a big source of spread of COVID-19. Click here for a list of updated DHHS K-12 COVID-19 resources (including links to the resources), as well as a list of all updates that have been made since last month’s SBE meeting.
Center for Safer Schools Update: SBE members received updates on student mental health data, the “Say Something” school safety app, and the state action plan for school safety. The data shows a 19% increase in student suicide ideation and self-harm from the 2018-2019 school year to the 2019-2020 school year, which the “Say Something” app aims to address. Board discussion primarily concerned the state action plan for school safety and the importance of student input on the role of School Resource Officers (SROs). Board member James Ford expressed his concern about students who want SROs removed from schools and the importance of their voice in the conversation. Presenters stated that the updated SRO initiatives concern training and supporting SROs to integrate them into the school community. Under these initiatives, SROs would be thoroughly educated about the school-to-prison pipeline, mental health and trauma, and de-escalation tactics and bias training. This Center for Safer Schools and strategic plan update was a discussion item and was not voted for approval at this meeting. Click here to access the draft state action plan for school safety.
School-Based Mental Health Policy: The SBE approved the updated school-based mental health policy. The following are the two primary updates:
- Replacing “i.e.” with “e.g.” to clarify that examples of how to apply the policy are not requirements
- Adding a description of school personnel who work with students to include “teachers, instructional support personnel, principals, and assistant principals; this term may also include, in the discretion of the PSU, other school employees who work directly with students”
Next steps for implementing the school-based mental health policy include addressing shortages, professional learning and technical assistance, reporting, and project evaluation.
SBE Executive Committee Meeting
On Monday, November 2 the Executive Committee of the SBE met to approve 17 inaugural cohort districts for the NC Education Corps (NCEC). The NCEC was launched with the collaboration of the SBE, the Office of the Governor, and former State Superintendent Mike Ward. NCEC’s mission is to help address the immediate challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to read more about the NCEC and the application process. The goal is to hire just over 100 NCEC members by January 2021 who will serve as tutors and mentors addressing student achievement/engagement and learning loss. Of the 17 districts chosen, eight are Tier I and nine are Tier 2.
School Nutrition Waivers Extended
On October 9, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) formally extended school nutrition waivers to allow schools to continue providing students with free meals through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) through June 30, 2021. This waiver extension is the result of a stopgap government funding bill that was passed by Congress in September. The bill encouraged the USDA to extend these waiver flexibilities past the end of 2020. Click here for the announcement from the USDA.
Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee
This afternoon the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee reviewed a report entitled “Lack of a Dedicated State-level Effort Challenges North Carolina’s Capacity to Increase Teacher Diversity”. Authors of the report in the General Assembly’s Program Evaluation Division found no state-level effort to promote the recruitment and retention of teachers of color but did acknowledge that LEAs, charter schools, and educator preparation programs (EPPs) have developed and implemented initiatives to promote diversity in their teacher workforce. Superintendent Mark Johnson disagreed with the report findings, stating that the report “did not adequately capture the current efforts made in North Carolina”, such as TEACH NC (collaboration between DPI, BEST NC, and TEACH.ORG) and the Governor’s DRIVE Task Force (Developing a Representative & Inclusive Vision for Education).
The report recommends the following:
- The General Assembly should mandate the addition of at least one historically black college/university (HBCU) or minority-serving institution to the NC Teaching Fellows Program.
- The General Assembly should require the State Board of Education to develop a plan for an alternative to licensure exams for teacher candidates to demonstrate competency.
These recommendations have been included in a bill draft that the Committee will consider at their next meeting on December 14.
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