LEGISLATIVE & POLICY NEWS

  • Leandro Report Released, Recommends Greater Investment In Education

    “[T]he state is further away from meeting its constitutional obligation to provide every child with the opportunity for a sound basic education than it was when the Supreme Court of North Carolina issued the Leandro decision more than 20 years ago.”

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  • Legislators Adjourn Without State Budget, Set To Reconvene January 14

    Members of the General Assembly voted to adjourn last week without finalizing a state budget package, bringing an end to the second-longest legislative session in the State’s history. While legislators blame the lengthy session on the budget stalemate and ongoing efforts to override the Governor’s veto, some wonder if the state legislature should consider implementing session limits.

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  • Pay Raises, Other Education Bills Pending On The Governor’s Desk

    Before voting to adjourn and reconvene on Wednesday, November 13, the General Assembly successfully passed several pieces of legislation, which were then sent to the Governor to be signed into law. The Governor has since signed several of these bills, while numerous others, such as the two mini-budget bills providing pay raises for educators, remain unsigned.

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  • Legislators Push Forward Mini-Budgets On Educator Raises

    Lawmakers working toward a self-imposed adjournment deadline of today rolled out and approved several mini-budgets this week, including bills addressing pay raises for various groups of educators. This week’s action on education mini-budgets coincided with continuing delays by the Senate GOP leadership to attempt overriding Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of House Bill 966, the full state budget package for the 2019-21 biennium. The House has overridden that veto, and Senate Republicans need either one Democrat to vote with them to override or two Senate Democrats to be absent when the override vote occurs to enact the budget over the Governor’s objections. Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said in a press conference Monday the override attempt would not occur unless he thought it would succeed. But he left the bill on the Senate floor calendar all week, keeping the option open to attempt the override, while continuing efforts to garner the needed Democratic votes to enact H966.

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  • Lawmakers Consider Leaving, Returning Nov. 13

    Senate Rules Chairman Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) filed Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 694 late Wednesday evening to formally adjourn the N.C. House of Representatives and Senate the following day, as well as limit what may be discussed upon reconvening. If approved by both chambers, this adjournment is scheduled to take effect at the end of Thursday’s session, and it schedules the House and Senate to reconvene on November 13, 2019 at noon. During the November session, legislators may only consider redistricting matters and considerations of a new Joint Resolution or amendments to SJR 694. Upon adjournment of the November session, the House and Senate will not reconvene until January 14, 2020, at noon.

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  • Legislature Approves Innovative School District Changes, Expands Advanced Teaching Roles

    Members of the N.C. House and Senate gave final approval on Tuesday to a bill making changes to the Innovative School District Program, as well as the Advanced Teaching Roles Pilot Program. If signed into law by the Governor, Senate Bill 522 would create a three-year process before qualifying schools are transferred into the Innovative School District (ISD), and release the State Board of Education (SBE) from its obligation to choose four schools to be added to the ISD next year. The new process would give notice to qualifying schools in year one and place the schools on a “watch list” in year two, before finally placing the schools on a “warning list” in year three if school performance has not improved. If a school on the warning list has not made requisite improvements before year four, the bill states the SBE must select the school for transfer to the ISD. In addition to the ISD changes, lawmakers also included in the bill an unrelated provision eliminating the cap on the number of local boards of education that can participate in the Advanced Teaching Roles Pilot Program.

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  • Senate Passes Bill Providing Hurricane Relief to Ocracoke School

    North Carolina Senators voted to concur on Senate Bill 312: Relief to Ocracoke School/Hurricane Dorian on Wednesday, October 23, following approval of the bill by House members earlier in the month. The bill, which provides calendar flexibility and compensation authorization for Ocracoke School, will now be presented to Governor Cooper for approval.

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  • Senate Lawmakers Approve Mini Budget Bill Providing Raises For Principals, Step Increases For Teachers

    Members of the Senate Appropriations/Base Budget Committee approved on Wednesday a bill providing raises and bonuses for public school principals, as well as experience step increases for teachers, instructional support personnel, and assistant principals. Legislators replaced the contents of House Bill 377 — formerly the “Reduce Testing Act” — with certain provisions pulled from the vetoed state budget. However, the latest version of H377 does not include pay increases and other benefits for teachers, central office employees, and non-certified school personnel. During the same committee meeting, lawmakers also approved House Bill 231, providing pay raises and certain benefits to UNC system and community college employees, as well as a one-time, 0.5% cost-of-living supplement for state retirees.

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  • 2019-2020 School Safety Grant Applications Due Next Week

    The N.C. Center for Safer Schools is accepting applications for the 2019-2020 School Safety Grant Program until next Friday, October 25. The purpose of the School Safety Grants Program is to improve safety in public school units by providing grants for school resource officers, services for students in crisis, school safety training, safety equipment in schools, and additional school mental health support personnel. Interested public-school units should review the criteria set forth by the grant review committee, and submit their applications no later than Oct. 25 at 11:59 P.M. Applications can be found on the CCIP grants management system at ccip.schools.nc.gov.

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  • Principal Bonuses Delayed Without State Budget Approval

    Despite October being the designated month to celebrate hardworking school principals across the nation, many principals in North Carolina may be disappointed to learn they will not receive their expected performance bonuses this month, as the state budget impasse continues. North Carolina law allows certain funding to continue at the previous year’s levels absent a state budget; however, principal bonuses are not covered under that continuation-budget authority and must be approved by lawmakers each year. In a School Business Newsletter sent last week, Department of Public Instruction (DPI) staff noted, “No performance bonuses for principals are authorized at this time, and School Business will not be providing an allotment unless legislative authority is provided.” Bonuses for veteran teachers, as well as salary step increases expected on July 1, 2019, have also been put on hold indefinitely.

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  • NC House Passes Bill Providing Relief To Ocracoke School As FEMA Denies Individual Aid For Hurricane Dorian

    Members of the North Carolina House of Representatives approved on Wednesday a bill providing calendar flexibility and compensation authorization for Ocracoke School, which experienced unprecedented damage during Hurricane Dorian in early September. The bill was unanimously passed a day after Governor Cooper received notice from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), stating his request for Individual Assistance for Hurricane Dorian victims had been denied.

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  • FAST NC Opens Final Round Of Grant Applications For Hurricane Florence, Expands Relief Funding To Districts Impacted By Hurricane Dorian

    FAST NC, a bipartisan group formed to provide aid to students and teachers in the wake of Hurricane Florence, has opened a final round of grant applications for Florence-impacted schools, as well as an opening round of applications for schools impacted by Hurricane Dorian. Both of these applications, which can be accessed on the FASTNC webpage, are due by October 18, 2019.

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  • NC General Assembly Approves Board of Education Appointments

    The North Carolina General Assembly formally approved Governor Cooper’s three nominations to the State Board of Education during a joint session of the NC House and Senate on Wednesday. Members voted to approve two new members to the Board, Dr. Donna Tipton-Rogers and J. Wendell Hall, and also confirmed current Board member J.B. Buxton for a new term. The General Assembly previously declined to confirm Buxton in June 2018, but Governor Cooper chose him to fill a vacancy on the Board later in the year. According to state law, the Governor appoints 11 of 13 members of the Board to serve eight-year terms, with the Lieutenant Governor and State Treasurer serving in the other two roles.

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  • State Budget Impasse Continues As Proposed Senate Deadline Approaches

    Senate members did not attempt to override Governor Cooper’s state budget veto this week, and instead focused on passing two “mini-budget bills” relating to the state's rural broadband grant program and funds for the N.C. Department of Transportation. Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) told members of the media that he intends to adjourn in the Senate before October 31; however, Speaker of the House Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) told the government news service The Insider that “capital infrastructure funds for K-12 schools, universities, and community colleges…must be approved as stand-alone appropriations if necessary before adjourning for any significant period of time." Both the House and Senate are scheduled to reconvene next Monday, but no voting sessions are expected until Tuesday.

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  • Governor Cooper Signs School Safety Changes Into Law

    North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed into law on Thursday morning a bill which makes various changes to school safety funding, programs, and reporting requirements. House Bill 75 appropriates approximately $38.8 million to implement certain school safety provisions for the 2019-20 fiscal year, and another $29.8 million for the following fiscal year. Out of these funds, $18.1 million in non-recurring funding is specifically designated in 2019-20 for school safety grants, covering safety equipment, community partnerships, students in crisis, and school resource officers. The bill also designates $20 million in recurring funds to supplement the Instructional Support Allotment for 2019-20, to be used to increase the number of school mental health support personnel in each LEA; the bill further designates $23 million in recurring funds in the following fiscal year for the same purpose.

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  • NCASA Sought, Achieved Clarifying Guidance For LEAs On Employing Retirees As High-Need Or Other Teachers

    With last week’s enactment of Senate Bill 621 into law, LEA superintendents and human resource directors had breathed a sigh of relief in knowing they can legally employ retirees under either of the following: 1) subject to an earnings cap to work part-time in any school, or 2) as a “high-need teacher” working full-time with no earnings cap or loss of pension when placed in a “high-need school.” However, guidance issued earlier this week by both the Teachers and State Employees’ Retirement System (TSERS) and the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) created confusion on these options statewide as the Sept. 15th deadline loomed for LEAs to notify TSERS on their plans on usage of the high-need teacher option.

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  • House Republicans Override Governor’s State Budget Veto

    After months with little progress on state budget negotiations, the NC House of Representatives successfully voted on Wednesday morning to override Governor Cooper’s veto of the previously-passed state budget. The final House vote, which split between party lines, was 55 members in favor and 15 members against, out of a total of 120 House members. The budget was then sent to the Senate for an additional override vote, but it was referred to the Senate Rules Committee before any votes were taken. Senate leadership has announced, as widely reported by statewide media outlets, that it will not vote on the veto override until next week. Senate Republicans will need at least one Democrat to join them in order to successfully override the veto.

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  • 2020 State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees Changes

    The North Carolina State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees (TSERS) has announced several noteworthy changes to the 2020 Plan, as well as an open enrollment period of Nov. 2-19. In guidance issued to the Personnel Administrators of North Carolina (PANC), an affiliate of the North Carolina Association of School Administrators (NCASA), Glenda Jones, NCASA President and PANC Public Information Officer, shared guidance regarding the following items

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  • Governor Cooper Signs Testing Reduction Act of 2019

    Governor Cooper signed the Testing Reduction Act of 2019 (S621 / Session Law 2019-212) this week, eliminating the use of NC Final Exams (NCFEs) as part of the statewide testing program to assess teacher performance and professional growth. The bill requires that the State Board of Education and Department of Public Instruction develop “a plan on how to use other means to accomplish the purposes for which data is collected by the NC Final Exam” to be presented to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee not later than March 15, 2020.

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  • School Start and End Dates report Approved By the State Board of Education

    The State Board of Education approved the Report on School Start and End Dates at their meeting on Thursday as required by Senate Bill 343 (Session Law 2019-165) passed July 26. The new law requires that each local board of education report to the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education on the start and end dates of the student instructional calendar for the next academic year. The local board of education shall report this information for each school under the control of that board and shall identify the statutory exception authorizing an earlier start date. While the reporting deadline for the school year already in progress has been extended until September 15, future reports will be required annually by April 1.

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