Rebekah Howard

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
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NCSBA Legislative Update – June 19, 2020

This Week at the Legislature

Legislators wasted no time in moving numerous bills through committees and sessions this week, including many K-12 education bills. Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore share the same goal of wrapping up work next week but acknowledge that the short session may continue into the week after. While Senator Berger stated that the Senate has passed all appropriations bills it plans to address, Speaker Moore said the House still has spending bills to take up next week, as well as any veto override votes. It is possible that legislators may meet again in late July or early August, after the release of final tax numbers and more specific information about reopening schools.

On Tuesday, June 16 the House Education K-12 Committee adopted a committee substitute for HB 1035: 2020-2021 Calendar Modifications, which replaced the original education omnibus bill (contents included in SB 704/SL 2020-3) with a bill that removes restrictions on when remote instruction days can be scheduled and the number of remote instruction days allowed when needed to address the health and safety of students for the 2020-21 school year. The bill passed the House and is currently in the Senate Rules Committee. If your district is interested in the additional flexibility that this bill would provide for remote instruction days, we urge you to contact your Senators. HB 1035 also 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 and extends the use of emergency school nutrition funds to the Summer Food Services Program through December 30, 2020

SB 818: Compensation of Certain School Employees made it through both the Senate and the House and is now awaiting the Governor’s signature. This bill would provide a $350 bonus for teachers and instructional support personnel and step-increases for teachers and assistant principals. Despite its swift movement through each chamber, SB 818 received pushback from Democrats calling for higher bonuses and inclusion of non-certified personnel. The bill encourages Governor Cooper to use CARES Act funds to provide an additional $600 bonus for teachers and instructional support personnel, as well as noncertified personnel. Republicans claim that the federal dollars can be used for the bonuses, but Governor Cooper’s spokesperson has been quoted in the media saying that the funds are not authorized to be used in this way. To read more about the controversy over SB 818, click here.

HB 1225: Education & Transportation Bond Act of 2020 was amended on the House floor on Thursday, June 18 to move $350 million out of the transportation allotment and transfer $250 million to K-12 public schools and $100 million to community colleges. The proposed $3.1 billion bond would now provide $1.15 billion for transportation and $1.95 billion for education. The education portion would be divided as follows:

  • $1.05 billion for K-12 public schools
  • $600 million for the UNC System
  • $300 million for community colleges

The bill passed the first required vote in the House 113-4. The final House vote will be held on Monday, June 22. With House passage imminent, what will happen to HB 1225 in the Senate? According to the media, Senate Leader Phil Berger, who has not been a big fan of bonds in the past and instead prefers a pay-as-you-go methodology, said in response to the House bond bill, “I just don’t think it’s wise to go borrow money when you know that the money you’ve got coming in is less than what was previously anticipated.” But Berger added that the pay-as-you-go method will be difficult given the state’s finances as a result of the pandemic: “At some point I think we might have to borrow some money.”

If signed into law, the bond referendum would be split into two questions on the November 2020 ballot, one on education and one on transportation.

 

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

HB 1105: COVID/Supplementary G.R.E.A.T. Grant Period

  • Approved by the House Appropriations and House Rules Committees and will be calendared
  • Expands broadband infrastructure in the State, which would improve remote teaching and learning connectivity

SB 816: Funds for CC Enrollment Growth/CIHS Funds

  • Failed to concur in the Senate and conference committee appointed
  • Appropriates $1.9 million in nonrecurring funds to eight cooperative innovative high schools for the 2020-21 fiscal year

HB 158: COVID-19 New Driver Response

  • Presented to the Governor on Tuesday, June 16
  • Provides accommodations for driver education coursework interrupted by school closures on March 13
  • Temporarily waives the road test requirement to obtain an initial provisional driver’s license (Level 2 limited provisional license)

HB 1050: PED/Low-Performing School Districts – approved by the Senate Education/Higher Education and Senate Rules Committees and placed on the Senate calendar for Monday, June 22

HB 1096: UNC Omnibus Changes/UNC Lab School Funds – passed the House, approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee, and referred to the Senate Rules Committee

HB 1218: Salary-Related Contribs/Debt Service Funds – passed the House and presented to the Governor on Thursday, June 18

SB 374: Regulatory Reform Act of 2020 – approved by the House Regulatory Reform
Committee and referred to the House Rules Committee

SB 408: COLA for TSERS & CJRS – approved by the House Pensions and Retirement Committee and referred to the House Appropriations Committee

SB 706: Educ. Changes for Military-Connected Students – approved by the Senate Education/Higher Education and Senate Rules Committees and passed the Senate

SB 719: Retirement Tech/Protect/& Other Changes – passed the Senate and presented to the Governor on Thursday, June 18

 

Local education-related bills with legislative action this week:

HB 1113: Local Option Sales Tax/School Construction – approved by the House Finance and House Rules Committees and placed on the House calendar for Monday, June 22

HB 1151: Asheville-Buncombe Bd. of Trustees – became S.L. 2020-20 on Wednesday, June 17

SB 796: Carteret Co. Bd. Of Educ. Districts – passed the House and sent to the Senate for concurrence

 

Click here to view the status of education-related bills.

 

Leandro Action Plan

On Monday, June 15 the fight for the opportunity to a sound basic education continued with the filing of the Leandro action plan for fiscal year 2021. The action plan covers the seven key areas provided in Judge David Lee’s consent order released in January 2020. These key areas were developed following the release of the 301-page WestEd Report. WestEd is the independent consultant appointed by Judge Lee to develop recommendations for the State to best achieve its constitutional requirement of providing every student with the opportunity to a sound basic education. Both HB 1129: Ensure a Sound Basic Education and HB 1130: Invest in a Sound Basic Education address the Leandro recommendations, but neither have seen movement.

 

 

 

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 19, 2020
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NCSBA Legislative Update – June 12, 2020

This Week at the Legislature

Mini budget bills continued trending this week at the legislature. A committee substitute for SB 818 would maintain the current salary schedule for teachers and provide a one-time bonus of $350 for teachers and instructional support personnel.

On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee debated two education bills, HB 1071 and SB 814, that would transfer funds out of the School Bus Replacement Fund. While HB 1071 would fund increased Average Daily Membership (ADM) in K-12 public schools, SB 814 and HB 472, which also designates transfers out of the Fund, would not utilize the funds for K-12 public school needs. Senator Jim Davis, R-Macon, expressed concern about transferring a potential $13.9 million out of the Fund for this fiscal year. Appropriations Chair Senator Harry Brown, R-Onslow, assured Committee members that there was careful consideration in designating the transfers and that because of remote learning since mid-March, the Fund can afford the loss. Senator Brown also noted the importance of cautiously seeking funds to fill future needs as the State continues to recover from the economic impact of COVID-19. For more about these designated transfers and the State’s efforts to fill an estimated $4.2 billion budget hole, click here.

 

The following statewide education-related bills had legislative action this week:

SB 818: Compensation of Certain School Employees

  • Committee substitute adopted by the Senate Appropriations Committee and approved by the Senate Rules Committee
  • The original bill dealing with appropriations to DPI for increased ADM in public schools was replaced with a bill that provides compensation to certain public-school employees
  • Maintains the current teacher salary schedule, principal salary schedule, principal bonuses, and assistant principal salaries in HB 377: Teacher Step Act (SL 2019-247)
  • Provides step increases for teachers and assistant principals
  • Provides a one-time, lump sum bonus of $350 to teachers and instructional support personnel employed by an LEA, charter, regional, innovative, or lab school as of October 1, 2020
  • Encourages the Governor to allocate federal funds to provide a one-time, lump sum bonus of $600 to each teacher, instructional support personnel, and noncertified personnel employed in public schools
    • Governor Cooper’s spokesperson was quoted in the media saying: “Federal guidance for CARES Act prevents (these) funds from being used for teacher bonuses”, but legislative staff disagrees.
    • For more on this controversy between state leaders, click here

HB 1071: Funds to DPI for ADM Growth

  • Passed the Senate and the House and presented to the Governor on Friday, June 12
  • Appropriates $100.9 million in nonrecurring funds to be used to fund increased ADM in public schools for the 2020-21 fiscal year
    • $75 million from the Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund
    • $3.9 million from the School Bus Replacement Fund
    • $22 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund
  • See the chart below for how ADM funds were calculated

SB 476: School-Based Mental Health

  • Signed into SL 2020-7 on Monday, June 8
  • Requires SBE to adopt a model mental health training program for school personnel who work with K-12 students
    • Program addresses youth mental health, suicide prevention, substance abuse, sexual abuse prevention, sex trafficking prevention, and teen dating violence
  • Requires SBE to adopt a model suicide risk referral protocol for school personnel who work with students in grades 6-12
  • Requires public school units to adopt a training program for employees to be provided with at least six hours of initial training in the first six months of employment and at least two hours in subsequent years

HB 158: Waive Road Test Requirement

  • Conference report adopted by the House and the Senate
  • Temporarily waives the road test requirement to obtain an initial provisional driver’s license (Level 2 limited provisional license)
  • The conference report includes contents of HB 1189: Driver Education COVID-19 Response, which provides accommodations for driver education coursework interrupted by school closures on March 13

SB 816: Funds for CC Enrollment Growth/CIHS Funds

  • Committee substitute adopted by the House Appropriations Committee and passed the House
  • The committee substitute includes $1.9 million in nonrecurring funds for the following cooperative innovative high schools for the 2020-21 fiscal year:
  1. The Center for Industry, Technology, and Innovation (Nash-Rocky Mount)
  2. The Innovation Early College High School (Pitt)
  3. The Marine Sciences and Technologies Early College High School (Carteret)
  4. The Roanoke Rapids Early College High School
  5. The Southeast Area Technical High School (New-Hanover)
  6. Halifax Early College High School
  7. Stanly STEM Early College High School
  8. Gaston Early College of Medical Sciences High School

HB 1079: Various Sales Tax Changes – signed into SL 2020-6 on Friday, June 5

SB 379: Retirement Systems Admin. Changes – passed the Senate and presented to the Governor on Thursday, June 11

SB 719: Retirement Tech/Protect/& Other Changes – passed the House and sent to the Senate

 

The following local education-related bills had legislative action this week:

HB 1199: Graduating Sr Numeric Grade/Appropriate Funds

  • Passed the Senate and ratified as SL 2020-13
  • Converted from a statewide bill to a local bill only affecting Union County

HB 1151: Asheville-Buncombe Bd. of Trustees – passed the Senate, failed to concur in the House, and conference committee appointed

Click here to view the status of education-related bills.

 

State Board of Education

The State Board of Education met for a called meeting on Thursday, June 11. Board members addressed the following:

Following Monday’s release of DHHS’s 26-page Public Health Toolkit for reopening K-12 schools, DPI staff presented implementation plans in a guidebook for reopening North Carolina’s public schools. Board members were provided with a presentation that summarizes the guidance and includes navigation links. Webinars addressing each component of the guidebook will be begin next Wednesday, June 17.

While DHHS and DPI staff share the goal of entering the 2020-21 school year utilizing Plan A guidance, which requires minimal social distancing, Plan B and Plan C guidance are also thoroughly discussed in the guidebook. DHHS and DPI staff stated that the current metrics being used to ease statewide restrictions will also be used in this process.

There is collaboration among the Governor, DHHS, DPI, and SBE to decide on a plan by July 1, and the application of the plan will be statewide. As of now, school districts will be given discretion in implementing tighter restrictions than what is provided in the chosen plan, but there was no definite answer to Board member questions regarding the application of the guidance on a district-by-district level. Ultimately, the SBE approved the guidebook as presented and plans to address policy recommendations based on implementation of the guidance in future meetings.

The Board approved five allotment policies in response to the passage of HB 1043: 2020 COVID-19 Recovery Act (SL 2020-4):

For more information on each policy’s purpose, eligibility, allotment formula, and provisions, click the links above.

Click here to access all meeting materials

 

 

 

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 12, 2020
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NCSBA Legislative Update – June 5, 2020

This Week at the Legislature

Legislators continued to make progress on mini budget bills this week, not giving any sign of a wholesale bill being passed, as in recent years. HB 1071 appropriates funds for increased enrollment in public schools, with funds being transferred out of the School Bus Replacement Fund. HB 472 and SB 814 would also transfer funds out of the School Bus Replacement Fund to be appropriated for NC State University funds, NC A&T State University funds, and the NC Promise Tuition Plan. So far, a total of $13.9 million has been designated for transfer out of the School Bus Replacement Fund. This pattern of transferring funds between sources is becoming more common as legislators determine what areas they believe have the current highest need. Because of the estimated $4.2 billion revenue shortfall for the current two-year biennium, Representative Lambeth, a senior House budget writer, has called this current budget situation a “grim picture”, explaining the importance of being fiscally prudent and appropriating funds only on absolutely necessary services.

If you are hearing from your community about the issue of school technology funding, now is a good time to refer them to your legislators as NCSBA continues to push for the creation of a multi-year plan to fund school technology using the $730 million owed to public schools.

 

The following statewide education-related bills had legislative action this week:

HB 1071: Funds to DPI for ADM Growth

  • Passed the House and referred to the Senate Rules Committee
  • Appropriates $78.9 million in nonrecurring funds to be used to fund increased average daily membership (ADM) in public schools for the 2020-21 fiscal year
  • Appropriates an additional $22 million in nonrecurring funds for increased ADM in public schools in low-wealth counties impacted by COVID-19 for the 2020-21 fiscal year

HB 158: Waive Road Test Requirement

  • Passed the Senate and sent to the House for concurrence
  • The Senate replaced the original contents of the bill with an act that temporarily waives the road test requirement to obtain an initial provisional driver’s license (Level 2 limited provisional license)

HB 1189: Drivers Education COVID-19 Response

  • Passed the House and referred to the Senate Rules Committee
  • The House’s version of a bill similar to HB 158: Waive Road Test Requirement
  • Temporarily waives the road test requirement to obtain an initial provisional driver’s license, among other things

HB 1050: PED/Low-Performing School Districts – passed the House and referred to the Senate Rules Committee

HB 1079: Various Sales Tax Changes – presented to the Governor on Tuesday, June 2

SB 379: Retirement Systems Admin. Changes – passed the House and sent to the Senate for concurrence

SB 717: PED/Military Occupational Licensure – passed the Senate and referred to the House Homeland Security, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee

SB 719: Retirement Protection Act – passed the House Pensions and Retirement Committee and referred to the House Rules Committee

The following local education-related bill had legislative action this week:

HB 1199: Graduating Sr Numeric Grade/Appropriate Funds

  • Committee substitute adopted by the House Education K-12 Committee, passed the House, and referred to the Senate Rules Committee
  • Converted from a statewide bill to a local bill only affecting Union County

Click here to view the status of education-related bills.

 

State Board of Education

The State Board of Education met for their monthly meeting on Wednesday, June 3 and Thursday, June 4. Board members addressed the following:

Remediation & Summer Jump Start Plan: The Board approved draft guidance and allotments in response to the requirement in HB 1043: 2020 COVID-19 Recovery Act (SL 2020-4) that each public school unit develop a Remediation & Summer Jump Start Plan for the 2020-21 school year. Plans are to be submitted no later than June 22 and should provide supplemental reading and math interventions for eligible K-4 students.

K-12 social studies standards: Much discussion centered around Board approval of the revised K-12 social studies standards. Following the passage of HB 924: Teacher Contract Changes (SL 2019-82), which requires the Board to include an Economics and Personal Finance (EPF) course as a graduation requirement, the Board approved a list of revised social studies courses. This month Board members were presented with State content standards revisions to be approved for LEA curriculum guidance. Many Board members expressed concern that the standards do not mandate the teaching of pivotal historical events and accounts. As a result, the Board only approved the standards for the EPF course and plans to revisit the other social studies course standards at the July meeting.

Student and staff device allocation policy: Board members approved an allotment policy for the distribution of $30 million for the purchase of computers/electronic devices for students and $5 million for the purchase of computers/electronic devices for school personnel appropriated in HB 1043: 2020 COVID-19 Recovery Act (SL 2020-4). Board members will approve the individual allotment numbers next week, after LEAs, charter schools, and the Innovative School District (ISD) have additional time to respond to a survey about their current need. The funding formula for student devices is based 50% on ADM and 50% on poverty funding, and the funding formula for school personnel devices is based on ADM allocation.

Click here to access all meeting materials

 

Governor’s Education and Nutrition Working Group

The Governor’s Education and Nutrition Working Group met on Thursday, June 4. The following was presented:

Access to Child Care – Susan Gale Perry, NC DHHS, Chief Deputy Secretary

  • Provided enhanced referrals to 2,400+ families to care for 3,600+ children to date
  • Provided NC Pre-K stabilization through the end of the school year
  • Provided bonus payments of $950/month to teachers and $525/month to staff for April and May

Access to Nutritious Food – Dr. Lynn Harvey, NC DPI, School Nutrition and District Operations

  • 9 million meals served since schools closed on March 16
    • $1.2 million/week would be required to continue supporting the 2,100 buses delivering meals
  • 12,000+ children across 21 LEAs received benefits from USDA demonstration project Emergency Meals-To-You (EM2Y)
    • Continues through June 30
  • Issued $314 million Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) benefits to 837,000+ children from 616,000+ families
    • Continues through June 12 but NC has requested extension of benefits through the summer

 

June 8-12 Legislative Meeting Calendar

Monday, June 8

4:00 pm – House: Rules – Legislative Building, rm 1228/1327 (audio)

 

 

 

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 5, 2020
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NCSBA Legislative Update – May 29, 2020

This Week at the Legislature

NCSBA School Technology Video Campaign

NCSBA continues to work with state leaders to produce a multi-year payment plan for school technology funds that are constitutionally owed to public schools. Part of our school technology campaign is running Facebook ads. If you are on Facebook and see the ads, we hope that you will share them. We also urge you to express your support of this initiative to your legislative delegation. Click here to access our webpage containing two videos that provide background information and explain the current need for school technology and the money owed to school districts. Click here to read NCSBA’s issue brief on school technology.

Legislative Activity

It was another busy week at the legislature. Numerous new education-related bills were filed (see below) and there was continued conversation about the state’s projected revenue deficit for the current and upcoming fiscal years. A joint meeting of the House and Senate appropriations committees was held on Tuesday, May 26 concerning the May Revenue Consensus Forecast. While there is an estimated $4.2 billion revenue shortfall for the current two-year biennium, Fiscal Research Division staff noted that the projections in the revenue forecast were formulated under a high level of uncertainty and the forecast will be updated with more data after the July 15 tax filing deadline. On Thursday, May 28 budget bills began being heard in appropriations committees, signaling the legislature’s intent to use the mini-budget bill process to fund the majority’s high-priority items instead of waiting for the completion of a comprehensive budget for FY 2020-21.

House Speaker Tim Moore followed up his comments last week expressing interest in a K-12 public schools construction bond referendum by filing HB 1225: Education & Transportation Bond Act of 2020, which would provide $800 million for school capital projects. This bill significantly reduces what the Speaker proposed in his bond bill last year, which included $1.5 billion for LEAs, and is also well below the last school bond issue of $1.2 billion in 1996, 24 years ago. When asked about a school construction bond, Senate Leader Phil Berger stated that he would not commit to a bond referendum until there is more clarity on the state’s revenue and potentially high budget shortfall. Click here to access an EdNC article explaining the State’s struggle to reach a consensus on how to best address school capital needs and the current opportunity to invest in a bond package. Click here to read NCSBA’s issue brief on school construction.

The following education-related bills had legislative action this week:

SB 476: School-Based Mental Health

  • Ratified and presented to the Governor on Friday, May 29
  • Requires the SBE to adopt a school-based mental health policy and requires K-12 public school units to adopt and implement a school-based mental health plan, including a mental health training program and a suicide risk referral protocol
    • There will be at least six hours of initial training in the first six months of employment and at least two hours in subsequent years

SB 419: Technical and Other Changes

  • Placed on Senate calendar for Monday, June 1
  • Section 8 concerns private activity bonds for charter schools

HB 1079: Various Sales Tax Changes – passed the Senate, received House concurrence, and is in the process of being sent to the Governor

HB 1151: Asheville-Buncombe Bd. of Trustees – passed the House and sent to the Senate

HB 1153: Iredell-Statesville Bd. of Ed/Election Method – passed the House and sent to the Senate

SB 717: PED/Military Occupational Licensure – committee substitute adopted by the Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee and approved by the Senate Rules Committee

SB 719: Retirement Protection Act – passed the Senate and referred to the House Pensions and Retirement Committee

 

Governor’s Press Releases

  • On Tuesday, May 26 Governor Cooper announced the disbursement of federal COVID-19 relief funds to counties, which may be used for public health and essential service expenses.

 

June 1-5 Legislative Meeting Calendar

Tuesday, June 2

10:00 am – House: Education K-12 – Legislative Office Building, rm 643 (audio) (video)

1:00 pm – House: Homeland Security, Military, and Veterans Affairs – Legislative Building, rm 1228/1327 (audio) (video)

 

Education-Related Bills Introduced This Week

HB 1178: Brake for Our Future Act of 2020

HB 1180: Sam’s Law

HB 1181: Certain Appropriations for Education/COVID

HB 1182: Funds of Educational Entities/COVID

HB 1189: Drivers Education COVID-19 Response

HB 1190: UNC-TV/At-Home Learning Initiative

HB 1192: Student Health Collaborative Pilot

HB 1193: Person County Funds

HB 1194: Granville County Funds

HB 1199: Graduating Sr Numeric Grade/Appropriate Funds

HB 1203: Ensure Healthy Schools/COVID-19

HB 1206: Student Mental Health Well-Being/COVID-19

HB 1212: NC Teacher Support Program Funds

HB 1213: DMV/Waive Rd. Test/Parent/Guard. Liability

HB 1217: HBCU/HMSI Funds/Doct. Prog./Teaching Fellows

HB 1225: Education & Transportation Bond Act of 2020

SB 833: DMV/Mdfy Req for Driving Perm/Prov License

SB 839: PPE & Hazard Pay for Public School Employees

SB 842: Graduating Sr Numeric Grade/Appropriate Funds

SB 843: Waive Road Test/DMV Expand Office Hours

SB 844: Student Mental Health Well-Being/COVID-19

SB 847: UNC Laboratory School Modifications

SB 850: Ensure Healthy Schools/COVID-19

SB 851: One-Time Retiree Supplement/Funds

SB 857: Private School Families Tax Incentive

SB 859: Student Internet Connectivity Act

 

 

 

 

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 – May 29, 2020
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NCSBA Legislative Update – May 22, 2020

The Fight Against the Coronavirus

NCDHHS has reported 21,618 positive cases for COVID-19 and 728 deaths from COVID-19 in all 100 counties (up from 17,129 cases and 641 deaths in 99 counties last week). Click here to access the DHHS webpage that keeps North Carolinians updated on the state’s response to the coronavirus. Additionally, NCSBA has been updating its webpage containing information and resources about the coronavirus.

 

This Week at the Legislature

Both the House and Senate returned to somewhat of a normal week at the legislature. Committee meetings and voting sessions were held, and although it was the last week for meetings of the House Select Committee on COVID-19, working groups did not meet. Senate Leader Phil Berger announced that he plans for the Senate to be in session no longer than four to six weeks but is aware that the coronavirus could change those plans.

Despite the current circumstances, the NCSBA Governmental Relations team is still monitoring committee action, tracking education-related bills, and maintaining contact with legislators, as well as SBE staff and the Governor’s education team. Additionally, the GR team has been closely watching SB 719: Retirement Protection Act to ensure that changes to rule making are not retroactive.

On Monday, May 18 House Speaker Tim Moore expressed his interest in considering a bond referendum that would fund K-12 construction. This announcement follows the filing of HB 1088: Invest in NC Bond Act of 2020 last week, which the Speaker stated he was previously not aware of. Also this week, NCSBA initiated a meeting with school capital coalition partners.

On Tuesday, May 19 the House and Senate passed a joint resolution extending the bill filing deadline for budget-related bills to 4:00 pm on Tuesday, May 26. Senator Berger announced in a press conference that he expects budget losses to be as high as $4 billion due to lack of tax revenues. Legislative staff and the state budget office are expected to release consensus revenue numbers later today.

One bill to note that was filed this week that could affect districts’ budgets for the upcoming fiscal year is SB 809: Salary-Related Contrib/Debt Service Funds, which increases the State’s employer contribution rates budgeted for retirement for teachers and State employees from 14.36% to 14.78%.

The following education-related bills were introduced this week:

HB 1153: Iredell-Statesville Bd. of Ed/Election Method

SB 793: Expand Local Option Sales Tax for Education (HB 1113)

SB 794: Nash Bd. of Ed. Name Change

SB 800: Law Enforcement & Teacher Protection Act

SB 809: Salary-Related Contrib/Debt Service Funds

SB 818: Funds to DPI for ADM Growth

SB 819: Authorize Teacher-Gov’t Em’pee Housing/Bertie (SB 8)

The following education-related bills had legislative action this week:

HB 1079: Various Sales Tax Changes – passed the House and placed on the Senate calendar for Tuesday, May 26

SB 719: Retirement Protection Act – approved by the Senate Pensions and Retirement and Aging Committee and referred to the Senate Rules Committee

 

State Board of Education Meeting – May 21

The State Board of Education met for a called meeting on Thursday, May 21. Board members addressed the following:

State Superintendent Mark Johnson announced to the Board that LEAs will be able to choose which K-3 reading diagnostic tool they would like to use for the upcoming 2020-21 school year. Superintendent Johnson stated that DPI is preparing a list of reading diagnostic tools and an allotment policy to be brought before the Board for approval.

Remote Instruction Plan: The Board approved a new SBE policy requiring LEAs and charter schools to develop and submit a Remote Instruction Plan (RI Plan) for the 2020-21 school year no later than July 20, 2020. This policy is in response to SB 704: COVID-19 Recovery Act (SL 2020-3). The original policy includes 13 components for response, but Board members voted to add an additional component concerning response to needs of English learners, Academically and/or Intellectually Gifted (AIG) learners, and students identified as homeless under the McKinney-Vento Act. Per request of school districts, Board members also voted to include a component allowing districts to describe limitations preventing implementation of quality remote learning. The policy and RI Plan will be presented to school districts through a webinar on June 2.

Teacher licensure, evaluation, and education policy: Dr. Tomberlin, DPI Director of Educator Recruitment and Support, presented SBE policy revisions, including requirements for EPP admissions, clinical internships, and school administration prep programs. The revisions come from SB 704: COVID-19 Recovery Act (SL 2020-3). Dr. Tomberlin noted a few considerations for the Board, including potential issues for current Emergency License holders seeking a Residential License. Although EPP admissions requirements have been waived by state statute, many EPPs have not waived requirements because of the impact on accreditation. Dr. Tomberlin stated that DPI currently does not have a solution for mandating EPPs to accept candidates. Click here for a full list of policy revisions.

Board members approved one revision to the NC Public Schools Benefits and Employment Policy Manual. Section 16.3 was revised to align with Section 4.23(a) of SB 704: COVID-19 Recovery Act (SL 2020-3), which reduces the waiting period from six months to one month for TSERS retirees who retired on or after October 10, 2019 but before April 1, 2020 to return to work. DPI staff clarified that public schools wishing to utilize this exception should contact the NC Retirement System, not DPI.

The SBE approved an extension to the State of Emergency Leave policy until June 15, 2020. An additional revision was made to the policy to clarify that school district employees whose work calendars end before June 15 are not entitled to emergency leave for days that they were not expected to work.

The Board approved provisions and allotments for the distribution of the $75 million in CARES Act funds allocated to school nutrition through HB 1043: 2020 COVID-19 Recovery Act (SL 2020-4). Dr. Lynn Harvey, DPI Director of School Nutrition and District Operations, stated that the USDA has confirmed the SBE’s use of the federal funds for meal distribution to students.

Board members approved policy and allotment amendments regarding use of federal Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds authorized by the CARES Act. Newly opened and significantly expanded charter schools are now eligible for a portion of funds.

Click here for all meeting materials.

 

Governor’s Press Releases

 

May 26-29 Legislative Meeting Calendar

Tuesday, May 26

2:00 pm – Senate: Commerce and Insurance – Legislative Offices Building, rm 643 (audio)

3:00 pm – House: State and Local Government – Legislative Building, rm 1228/1327 (audio)

 

Wednesday, May 26

11:00 am – Senate: Education/Higher Education – Legislative Building, rm 1027/1128 (audio)

 

 

 

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 – May 22, 2020
read more

NCSBA Legislative Update – May 15, 2020

The Fight Against the Coronavirus

NCDHHS has reported 17,129 positive cases for COVID-19 and 641 deaths from COVID-19 in 99 counties (up from 13,868 cases and 527 deaths last week). Click here to access the NCDHHS webpage that keeps North Carolinians updated on the state’s response to the coronavirus. Additionally, NCSBA has been updating its webpage containing information and resources about the coronavirus.

 

This Week at the Legislature

Several interim study committees met this week, including the Working Groups of the House Select Committee on COVID-19. Session will reconvene on Monday, May 18, as House and Senate members have been in their home districts for the past two weeks.

Thursday, May 14 was the filing deadline for non-local bills for the 2020 short session. For a list of education-related bills that were filed, see the “Education Bills” section below.

House Select Committee on COVID-19, Education Working Group

The Education Working Group met on Thursday, May 14. The agenda consisted of presentations on public health considerations on reopening schools for the 2020-21 school year, school nutrition, and school connectivity and the homework gap.

Public Health Considerations on Reopening Schools – Dr. David Stegall, DPI Deputy Superintendent of Innovation, Dr. Beverly Emory, DPI Deputy Superintendent of District Support, and Susan Gale Perry, DHHS Chief Deputy Secretary, presented the following:

  • A draft of a high-level framework to reopen schools – the framework is a collaboration of stakeholders, DPI and DHHS work groups, and the Governor’s office (see slide 2)
  • Four approaches needed to reopen schools
    1. Increase social distancing, including:
      • Place desks six feet apart
      • Reduce class size
      • Stagger school hours or alternate days/weeks for students
      • Eat meals in classrooms
      • Limit group activities
    2. Implement hygiene protocols, including:
      • Minimize use of shared supplies
      • Incorporate handwashing breaks
      • Ensure frequent cleaning and disinfecting
      • Recommend cloth face coverings
    3. Monitor staff and student health, including:
      • Daily symptom screening at school entrance
      • Accommodate high-risk staff
      • Have plans for removing sick students
      • Ensure access to school nurse services
      • Appropriate PPE for school nurses/health personnel
    4. Provide education, including:
      • Post signage for reminders of physical distancing
      • Communicate with families
      • Train staff on COVID-19 strategies

The CDC has also released guidance on reopening schools. Click here and here for these additional resources.

School Nutrition Operations – Dr. Lynn Harvey, DPI Director of School Nutrition and District Operations, presented the following:

  • DPI is currently operating under 21 federal waivers from the USDA
  • Additional funding is needed to continue the current meal program that transports meals to students using school buses – elimination of school buses will reduce meals from roughly 500,000/day to 125,000-150,000/day
  • DPI is seeking a state appropriation to cover the $7.6 million/week budget shortfall to continue providing the current expanded meal program through the summer – the goal is to not transition to the summer meal program, citing the congregate setting as a primary reason
  • Currently 75 of the 115 school districts are providing pay incentives to essential school nutrition personnel
  • DPI is proposing that the $75 million in federal funds allotted through HB 1043 be based on the same proportion of funds as if districts were reimbursed by school meal receipts and federal funds – SBE will consider the allotment at its meeting on Thursday, May 21
    • Working Group chairs requested a follow up about the SBE decision on the allotment and allotment policy

School Connectivity and the Homework Gap – Jeff Sural, Department of Information Technology (DIT) Director of Broadband Infrastructure Office, presented the following:

  • DIT and the Friday Institute have created a survey tool in hopes of identifying every household in the state who does not have connectivity
  • DIT is providing support and guidance to LEAs and DPI on convenience contracts and how to negotiate prices for cell service, hot spots, tablets, laptops, etc.
  • To date, there have been 180 wifi rangers for buses delivered to 36 counties
  • Representatives Corbin (Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Macon) and Hanig (Currituck, Dare, Hyde, Pamlico) emphasized their ongoing concern that remote learning is not feasible in their districts because of lack of broadband access and support

 

Sales Tax Bill

On Wednesday, May 13 the Revenue Laws Study Committee approved a bill for introduction in the 2020 Short Session entitled “Various Sales Tax Changes”. Part III of the bill affects K-12 education as follows (from bill summary by legislative attorney Trina Griffin):

  • Clarifies that the delivery of instruction or training by a public or private K-12 school to an enrolled student or as part of vocational training, regardless of whether it is conducted online in a live or pre-recorded format, is a nontaxable “educational service” and is not the sale of digital property.
  • Exempts sales of audio works or audiovisual works to operators of home schools if the work is a qualifying educational expense under G.S. 115C-595(a)(3).
  • Exempts sales of digital audio works or digital audiovisual works that consist of nontaxable service content when the transfer occurs contemporaneously and in real-time with the provision of the nontaxable service. Examples would include an exercise class, a music lesson, or a financial planning seminar live streamed via Zoom. However, pre-recorded or on-demand webinars would be taxable like any other video.
  • This bill is effective retroactively to October 1, 2019.

The bill was filed as SB 718 by Senator Newton, R-Cabarrus on May 13 and as HB 1079 by Representatives Howard, R-Davie; Ross, R-Alamance; Setzer, R-Catawba; and Szoka, R-Cumberland on May 14.

 

Education Bills

HB 1046: COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave

HB 1047: Educ. Changes for Military-Connected Students (SB 706)

HB 1050: PED/Low-Performing School Districts (SB 725)

HB 1056: WC/COVID-19/Cover Essential Workers

HB 1057: WC/COVID-19 Front Line Coverage/Funds

HB 1069: Retirement Technical Corrections Act of 2020

HB 1071: State/Federal Funds for School Connectivity

HB 1074: Omitted Membership Service/TSERS/LGERS

HB 1079: Various Sales Tax Changes (SB 718)

HB 1084: Bob Jordan Teaching Fellows Restoration Act

HB 1085: Front Line State Employee Hazard Pay/Funds (SB 740)

HB 1088: Invest NC Bond Act of 2020

HB 1105: COVID/Supplementary G.R.E.A.T. Grant Period

HB 1113: Expand Local Option Sales Tax for Education

HB 1116: Enhancing Accessibility to Teacher Prof. Dev.

HB 1122: Provide Affordable Broadband Access to NC

HB 1123: Study of Retention of K-12 Teachers

HB 1126: Enabling Opportunity Scholarship Reporting

HB 1129: Ensure a Sound Basic Education 

HB 1130: Invest in a Sound Basic Education

HB 1131: Teacher Pipeline Development

HB 1132: Study on K-12 Student Retention

HB 1139: Local Boards of Education Budget Flexibility

HB 1146: Prof. Teachers & Admins. Accountability Act

HB 1148: Restore Master’s Pay for Certain Teachers

SB 706: Educ. Changes for Military-Connected Students (HB 1047)

SB 711: Eligibility Changes for Opp Scholarships

SB 718: Various Sales Tax Changes (HB 1079)

SB 724: PED Oversight/EPP Changes (HB 107)

SB 725: PED/Low-Performing School Districts (HB 1050)

SB 740: Front Line State Employee Hazard Pay/Funds (HB 1085)

SB 747: $15/Hour Min. Pay for Noncert. Sch. Employees

SB 749: RO Filling Stations for New Hanover Schools

SB 764: CTE Pilot for Guilford Co. Schools

SB 765: Education Omnibus

SB 766: Rebuild a Better NC Bond Act

SB 769: Municipal Broadband Expansion

SB 771: Restore Educational Sales Tax Holiday

SB 787: Restores Master’s Pay for Teachers

SB 791: Funds for NC Pre-K

 

Governor’s Press Releases

  • On Thursday, May 14 Governor Cooper announced that North Carolina’s key COVID-19 indicators prove that the state remains stable after transitioning into Phase 1 last Friday.

 

From NSBA – HEROES Act

On Tuesday, May 12 the House introduced HR 6800: Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, which would provide the following:

  • $58 billion for K-12 education distributed to LEAs based on the Title I formula
  • $5 billion authorized for the E-Rate program, but only $1.5 billion appropriated

HR 6800 addresses non-binding guidance that would have required LEAs to determine the amount of CARES Act funds spent on private school students based on total enrollments. NSBA sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos explaining how this guidance disregards the requirement that CARES Act funds, specifically Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds, are allocated to LEAs based on Title I funding for the most recent fiscal year. HR 6800 changes the allocation for private school students to be based on Title I funding and includes language intended to prevent the Secretary from altering future allocation guidance.

Before the introduction of HR 6800, NSBA had requested $200 billion for K-12 education:

  • $175 billion to the states
  • $13 billion to IDEA
  • $12 billion to Title I

Additionally, NSBA had requested $4 billion in E-Rate funding.

 

 

 

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 – May 15, 2020
read more

NCSBA Legislative Update – May 8, 2020

The Fight Against the Coronavirus

NCDHHS has reported 13,868 positive cases for COVID-19 in 99 counties, and 527 deaths from COVID-19 in North Carolina. Click here to access the NCDHHS webpage that keeps North Carolinians updated on the state’s response to the coronavirus. Additionally, NCSBA has been updating its webpage containing information and resources about the coronavirus.

 

This Week at the Legislature

On Monday, May 4 the NCSBA Governmental Relations team released a summary of the K-12 education sections of the COVID-19 session laws. Click here to access the summary.

Both the House and Senate did not hold sessions or committee meetings this week. The Education Working Group of the House Select Committee on COVID-19 is scheduled to virtually meet next Thursday, May 14 at 2:00 pm.

Workers’ Compensation Bills Filed

Several bills have been filed in the General Assembly addressing COVID-19 and Workers’ Compensation. NCSBA wants to call one of these bills to your attention.

HB 1057: WC/COVID-19 Front Line Coverage/Funds sponsored by Representatives Jackson (D-Wake), Boles (R-Moore), Setzer (R-Catawba), and R. Smith (D-Wayne) includes, unlike the other bills filed, extending workers’ compensation coverage to employees required to work during a pandemic for a business declared essential by executive order of the Governor or by order of a local governmental authority, including food service, retail, and other essential personnel. The Governor’s executive order includes K-12 public schools as an essential business for purposes of facilitating remote learning.

The bill adds pandemics to the list of reasons a worker can make a claim for workers’ compensation and places the burden of proof on the employer to demonstrate that the employee did not contract the associated disease while working. Specifically, the bill states that a “pandemic infection contracted by a covered person shall be presumed to be due to exposure in the course of the covered person’s employment.” The bill defines a covered person as “an employee required to work during a pandemic for a business declared essential by executive order of the Governor…”

While NCSBA is extremely supportive of all the efforts of school employees during this time,  this would create a very difficult if not impossible standard for school districts to deal with since COVID-19 is a virus that can be contracted in numerous ways and not necessarily while working. There is already coverage under the Workers’ Compensation Act that provides a fair opportunity for an employee diagnosed with COVID-19 to make a claim for benefits. It states that diseases shall be deemed to be an occupational disease “which is proven to be due to causes and conditions which are characteristic of and peculiar to a particular trade, occupation or employment…” Meaning, the employee just has to prove that it’s more likely than not that COVID-19 was contracted at work. Shifting the burden of proof on these claims to the employer will create additional and substantial costs to school districts, either paying the claims directly for those who are self-insured, paying an increased number of deductibles, and/or increased coverage premiums, if coverage is attainable.

NCSBA sent an email to the bill sponsors yesterday and will be sending a similar email to all members of the General Assembly no later than Monday. There is also a coalition of primarily business interests that has formed to work on this issue, which NCSBA has joined.

NCSBA School Technology Video Campaign

Please continue to support NCSBA’s efforts as we work with state leaders to produce a multi-year payment plan for school technology. Click here to access our two videos highlighting the current need for school technology and the General Assembly’s responsibility in addressing the issue.

 

State Board of Education Meeting – May 6 & 7

The State Board of Education met for their monthly meeting this week. Board members addressed the following:

  • Changes to the NC Public Schools Benefits and Employment Policy Manual
  • 2019-20 high school senior grading/graduation policies
  • CARES Act funding

The Board approved revisions made to the NC Public Schools Benefits and Employment Policy Manual. Click here to view the changes, which affect sick leave, teacher contracts, earnings cap, and rehiring high-need teachers.

Board discussion centered around the possibility of reversing previous Board action that implemented a pass/withdrawal grading system for seniors’ spring course grades, which differs from students in grades 9-11 who have the option of choosing to receive a numeric grade or a pass/withdrawal grade. DPI staff stated that their initial goals with this policy were to focus on students’ graduation from a statewide perspective and support the mental health of graduating seniors. Pushback came from Board members who supported giving students the option to receive a numeric grade or a pass/withdrawal grade for their spring courses. Other members and advisors expressed concern that this change might place a burden on school districts, teachers who have not been maintaining numeric grades, and students who have graduated early. The Board ultimately voted to maintain the current policy.

The Board approved policy amendments regarding the use of federal Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. ESSER fund allocations are made to school districts, charter, lab, regional, and innovative schools based on Title I, Part A funds received in the most recent fiscal year. Click here to see the estimated minimum allotments.

Click here for all meeting materials.

 

Following last week’s release of an audit of DPI’s handling of federal grants, State Auditor Beth Wood stated that DPI will have to repay $18 million in federal money. Click here to access an article about the $18 million mistake.

 

Governor’s Press Releases

  • On May 6
    • Governor Cooper announced appointments to the DRIVE Task Force, which focuses on matters of equity and inclusion within education. NC State Board of Education member and Hertford County school board member Wendell Hall, who also serves on both the NCSBA and NCSBAC Board of Directors, was appointed to the Task Force.
    • Governor Cooper reported that additional school busses will be used to provide internet access to students in underserved areas as they continue to participate in online school.
  • On May 5 Governor Cooper signed Executive Order 138, which modifies the stay at home order and makes Phase 1 of easing COVID-19 restrictions effective Friday, May 8 at 5:00 pm.
  • On May 4
  • On May 2 Governor Cooper shared a statement applauding the legislature’s passage of COVID-19 relief bills.

 

  

 

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 – May 8, 2020
read more

NCSBA Legislative Update – May 1, 2020

The Fight Against the Coronavirus

NCDHHS has reported 10,923 positive cases for COVID-19 in 98 counties, and 399 deaths from COVID-19 in North Carolina. Click here to access the NCDHHS webpage that keeps North Carolinians updated on the state’s response to the coronavirus. Additionally, NCSBA has been updating its webpage containing information and resources about the coronavirus.

 

This Week at the Legislature

The General Assembly convened on Tuesday, April 28 for the 2020 legislative short session. Both chambers passed bills in response to the coronavirus, HB 1043: Pandemic Response Act and SB 704: COVID-19 Recovery Act. House Speaker Tim Moore announced during today’s House session that House and Senate negotiators have reached agreement on all money items, which will total close to $1.6 billion, but policy items are still being reconciled. One of the big bones of contention is over Medicaid expansion. Speaker Moore anticipates the approval COVID-19 legislation on Saturday, May 2. He also stated that, following legislation approval, the House will go home to work remotely for a few weeks.

House Bill 1043: Pandemic Response Act

  • Primary Sponsors: Representatives Bell, R-Wayne; Jackson, D-Wake; Lewis, R-Harnett
  • $1.7 billion
  • $291.7 million for K-12 schools

Senate Bill 704: COVID-19 Recovery Act

 

Policy items included in HB 1043, but not in SB 704:

  • SBE required to report recommendations for alternative interventions to summer instruction for at-risk students and students recommended for additional support (pg. 9)
  • Budget flexibility for local boards of education to transfer funds from one allotment category to another within certain limitations for the 2019-20 and the 2020-21 fiscal years (pgs. 14-15)
  • Delay K-3 class size reduction/adjust program enhancement teacher allotment funding (pgs. 15-16)
  • Allows unexpended funds for drivers education from the 2019-20 fiscal year to remain available until the end of the 2020-21 fiscal year (pg. 69)
  • Temporarily removes barriers to allow retirees of TSERS to return to work on a part-time, temporary, or interim basis during state of emergency related to COVID-19 (pgs. 77-78)

Click here for a chart comparison of K-12 education components of both bills.

 

State Board of Education Meeting – April 30

The State Board of Education met in a called meeting on Thursday, April 30. Board members addressed the following:

Board members approved additional emergency sick leave for public school employees, which was initially presented at the March 27 meeting. The approval extends the policy through May 31, 2020. It was noted that the policy may be readdressed in future weeks. Without adding additional changes to the policy, some Board members requested that DPI strongly encourage LEAs to provide remote working opportunities for noncertified employees.

Board members reviewed DPI’s completed certification and agreement for funding from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund. It appears that disbursements will be based on 2019-20 Title I allocations. The SBE will take action on approving this item at its monthly meeting next week.

Board members were presented with an update on the State’s K-3 literacy diagnostic. The Board was told that the most recent contract with Istation, which maintains all collected data but does not gather new data for the next three months, remains in effect, but the three-year Istation contract that was signed last year has been terminated. The Superintendent stated that DPI will be working closely with the Department of Information Technology (DIT) and plans to establish a new contract before the start of the 2020-21 school year, per Read to Achieve requirements. Following the update, a testy exchange occurred between Board members and the Superintendent about the process, timeline, and panel members. The Superintendent acknowledged the questions and stated that his team is still in the initial steps of the process.

Board members approved a response letter to an audit by the NC State Auditor that was released on Wednesday. Findings include:

  • Fiscal monitoring results not communicated timely
  • Inadequate award communication
  • Ineffective monitoring of several federal programs including Title I spending
  • Errors in reported state per pupil expenditures

Click here to read more about the findings and DPI’s response to the findings. The SBE’s response letter states that it plans to support and monitor DPI’s efforts in improvement, noting the DPI has “many outstanding employees who provide great service…in supporting the education of our children.” The late addition of the letter to the SBE agenda led to heated remarks from the Superintendent to the Board.

State Superintendent Mark Johnson announced the creation of the Schools Reopening Task Force (SRTF). The Superintendent stated that all action so far has been reactive to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the goal of SRTF is to be proactive. We would like to note that Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools board member Dana Caudill Jones is a member of the task force.

Click here for all meeting materials.

Click here for more coverage of the meeting and exchanges between Board members.

 

Governor’s Education and Nutrition Working Group

The Governor’s Education and Nutrition Working Group met on Thursday, April 30. The following was presented.

Goals for Reopening Schools

  • Increase social distancing
  • Implement hygiene protocols
  • Monitor workforce and student health
  • Protect vulnerable populations
  • Provide education to build awareness and combat misinformation

Click here for more on the draft plan for reopening schools. DPI and DHHS are requesting feedback on these preliminary goals, which can be sent to David Stegall at david.stegall@dpi.nc.gov. There is not a hard deadline for feedback, but the Working Group will be meeting again on Thursday, May 14.

Hope4Healers (919-226-2002) Updates

  • Helpline expanded to childcare staff, in addition to health care professionals, first responders, etc.
  • Equipped with 24/7 call line support, allowing callers to speak to a live person
  • Partnership with NC Psychological Foundation

Access to Internet

  • Received $75,000 in donations to purchase up to 280 Wi-Fi hotspots for buses to help bring Wi-Fi to communities in need – from AT&T, Duke Energy, and Google
  • Districts to receive these hotspots were identified and have been notified this week by Regional Case Managers

 

Governor’s Press Releases

 

U.S. Secretary of Education Report on IDEA Waiver Authority

On Monday, April 27 U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released a recommended waiver report under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. NSBA reported that the Secretary did not recommend Congress to pass additional waiver authority concerning the Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). NSBA sent the Secretary a letter describing the challenges school districts are experiencing in providing FAPE to children with disabilities pursuant to IDEA, which were not addressed in her recommended waiver report. NSBA stated that it is committed to working with Congress to provide temporary flexibility and additional funding for IDEA in the wake of this pandemic.

 

 

 

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 – May 1, 2020
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NCSBA Legislative Alert – April 24, 2020

The Fight Against the Coronavirus

Breaking News: Governor Roy Cooper just announced at a 2:00 pm press conference that public school buildings will remain closed for the rest of the 2019-20 school year. On Thursday, April 23 Governor Cooper extended North Carolina’s stay at home order through May 8 and released a three-stage plan for reopening North Carolina.

NCDHHS has reported 8,052 positive cases for COVID-19 in 93 counties, and 269 deaths from COVID-19 in North Carolina. Click here to access the NCDHHS webpage that keeps North Carolinians updated on the state’s response to the coronavirus. Additionally, NCSBA has been updating its webpage containing information and resources about the coronavirus.

 

New NCSBA Video/Marketing Campaign for School Technology

We are less than a week away from what is anticipated to be an unpredictable and bizarre legislative short session, which will begin with lobbyists and the public prohibited from the legislative buildings until at least May 8. One of the things we have learned from schools shutting down statewide is that additional funding is needed for school technology. Yesterday, the SBE/DPI requested $146 million dollars for remote teaching and digital learning resources.

School technology has been a top priority for local school boards and other public education advocates for years, particularly since the courts ruled in 2008 that various state agencies unconstitutionally diverted almost $750 million dollars away from school technology for nearly ten years. Since that judgment, the State has only paid back $18 million, or 2.5%, of the amount owed.

Now is the time for state leaders to develop a responsible multi-year plan to invest in school technology and pay down the judgment. To bring attention to this important issue, NCSBA developed two videos, a new webpage, and is kicking off a social media marketing campaign to inform parents, educators, lawmakers, business leaders, and the general public. Here is the link to the webpage with both videos: https://www.ncsbac.org/support-student-access-to-school-technology/.

Please show your support by sharing the videos/webpage through social media and rallying your communities to reach out to legislators.

 

From the House Select Committee on COVID-19

The Education Working Group met at 2:00 pm on Thursday, April 23. The Working Group unanimously voted to adopt the Education Omnibus/COVID-19 bill. Click here to view a bill summary, which highlights sections, such as school calendar, that have been added to the bill since last week. New bill sections include:

  • Section 3.8 School Calendar and Attendance – Will allow public school units to begin the school year as early as August 17, 2020. Expresses the GA’s intent to provide two weeks of supplementary jump start instruction in August 2020 for at-risk students and those recommended for additional support, which was requested by the SBE and DPI.
  • Section 4.1 Budget Flexibility – Provides increased flexibility for local boards of education to transfer funds from one allotment category to another within certain limitations for the 2019-20 and the 2020-21 fiscal years.
  • Section 4.2 Delay K-3 Class Size Reduction/Adjust Program Enhancement Teacher Allotment – Delays the K-3 class size reduction requirement for one school year and reduces corresponding funding for program enhancement teacher positions for FY 2020-21.
  • Section 5.2 Intent of General Assembly on 2019-2020 School Growth Scores and Principal Salaries – Expresses intent of the GA to refrain from using 2019-20 school growth score data for the 2020-21 Principal Salary Schedule. Data may be used from the 2018-19 school year or earlier.

It was stated that Working Group chairs will resolve any differences with Senate members concerning the bill prior to the General Assembly’s convening on Tuesday, April 28.

The Working Group was also  presented with K-12 budget requests from DPI and SBE. These budget requests were presented for discussion only, and no votes were taken. K-12 budget requests include:

  • School nutrition services
  • Supplemental pay for child nutrition and transportation employees
  • Remote learning resources
  • Exceptional children services
  • Cybersecurity infrastructure and services
  • Re-entry resources for student physical and mental health
  • Jump Start/Summer Bridge program

The K-12 budget requests totaled $377,096,215. Click here to see dollar amounts for each request.

 

The Continuity of State Operations Working Group met at 2:00 pm on Tuesday, April 21 and 3:00 pm on Thursday, April 23. The Working Group reviewed and amended a draft bill entitled “COVID-19 Time Sensitive Matters”. Bill sections that may be of interest to school boards are as follows:

  • Section 13.5 Carryforward of Drivers Education Funds – Unexpended and unencumbered Drivers Education funds from FY 2019-20 shall not revert but remain available until the end of FY 2020-21. This section was added to the draft bill by an amendment from Representative Torbett.
  • Section 21 Temporarily Remove Barriers to Allow Retirees of TSERS and LGERS to Return to Work on a Part-Time, Temporary, or Interim Basis During State of Emergency Related to COVID-19 – Will temporarily change the six month separation requirement for Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System (TSERS) retirees to a one month separation and applies to individuals retiring on or after October 1, 2019 but before April 1, 2020. Temporarily lifts the earnings caps for TSERS and Local Governmental Employees’ Retirement System (LGERS) retirees from March 10, 2020 until expiration. Representative McNeil had prepared (but did not run) an amendment that would tie the hiring of retirees before six months to a specific COVID-19 issue. It is expected that this will be addressed in the Pensions and Retirement Committee, as the bill moves through the legislative process.
  • Section 27 Remote Participation in Open Meetings – Amends the Emergency Management Act to specifically authorize official meetings of public bodies to be conducted via remote, simultaneous communication during periods of declarations of emergency for public health reasons. Representative Harrison added an amendment to require a telephonic option for remote meetings that are simultaneously streamed live online.

The provision outlines specific requirements for conducting remote meetings and allowing public access. If a quasi-judicial hearing is held remotely, it requires all persons subject to the hearing to consent to it being held remotely. NCBSA believes that this requirement is problematic, given the prescriptive timelines in statute for many of the hearings held by local boards of education. We are working with the legislature to try to alleviate potential problems.

The amended bill was adopted by a unanimous vote and forwarded to the April 28 session. Chairman Bell said further amendments would be considered next week during the session, including adding back a section on agency regulatory relief that was deleted from Thursday’s draft bill.

 

The Economic Support Working Group met at 10:00 am on Tuesday, April 21. The Working Group heard a presentation from Jeff Sural, Director of the Broadband Infrastructure Office in the Department of Information Technology (DIT). Sural reported that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimates that 94.8% of NC households have access to broadband, but only 78.3% of NC households have subscribed to broadband service (2017/18 Census data). It is estimated that 197,139 households with children lack internet access. DIT and DPI estimate that at least 100,000 hotspots are needed to provide student internet access. Sural provided the Working Group with maps of broadband availability and adoption (use of service) across the State. To find free or affordable high speed internet service or public Wi-Fi access locations, use the DIT website: ncbroadband.gov/covid19broadband. At the conclusion of the presentation, Representative Szoka stated that the COVID-19 crisis has shown that “high speed broadband service is more infrastructure than optional service” and that there is a role for government to work with industries providing service.

 

The General Assembly will convene for its 2020 legislative short session at 12:00 pm on Tuesday, April 28.

 

From the State Board of Education

The State Board of Education met at 10:00 am on Thursday, April 23. The Board approved the following:

DPI released guidance instructing public schools to not attempt to complete the 2019-20 educator evaluation process online because (1) the evaluation tool is not equipped for online observation, and (2) there is currently variability in teachers’ access to online instruction training. Because of these circumstances, DPI advised the Board to adopt certain actions regarding teacher evaluations. Click here to read the five recommended actions. Board members discussed releasing more information and clarification regarding the recommended action that states that “SBE and NCDPI will use the most recent, valid summative rating for any teacher who did not receive a summative evaluation in the 2019-2020 school year.” There was concern that progress made over the 2019-20 school year may not be accounted for in teachers’ ratings.

Much discussion centered around the application of the final version of the statewide grading policy presented by DPI staff. The grading policy will allow students in grades 9-11 to choose between receiving a numeric grade or Pass(PC19)/Withdrawal(WC19) for each final course grade. Students will make this decision at the end of the semester after being advised by their teacher/school, in consultation with their parent/guardian. Numeric grades will be calculated into the cumulative GPA, while PC19/WC19 grades will not impact GPA. Additionally, the grading policy states that students in grades K-5 will receive no final grade, students in grades 6-8 will receive PC19/WC19 final course grades, and no student will receive a failing grade.

Click here for all meeting materials.

Click here to view State Board of Education statutory modification recommendations to the General Assembly.

 

From the Governor

Governor’s Press Releases

  • On April 24 Governor Cooper announced that public school buildings will remain closed for the rest of the 2019-20 school year.
  • On April 23 Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 135, which extends the stay at home order through May 8 and continues restrictions on mass gatherings, social distancing, and visitation at long term care facilities.
  • On April 20
    • Governor Cooper announced North Carolina’s approval for the new Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program, which will provide more than 800,000 children with additional food benefits.
    • Governor Cooper participated on a call with Vice President Pence and other governors and gave an update on the work of the NC’s Testing Surge Workgroup.
  • On April 17 Governor Cooper announced NCDHHS’s partnership with state academic partners to examine and understand COVID-19 cases with mild or no symptoms.

 

 

 

 

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 Alert – April 24, 2020
read more