Governor Cooper Signs School Safety Changes Into Law
Elizabeth Yelverton | NCASA Legal Affairs & Policy Manager
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.
The bill also changes reporting requirements for school safety, requiring the superintendent of each LEA to submit a report on the number of school mental health personnel employed in the district to their local board of education before February 15 every year. Using this data, the State Superintendent would then submit a report to the legislature on the yearly differences in the number of mental health support personnel in each LEA.
The bill also requires the following other studies by various state agencies:
- Section 2.1 requires the Center for Safer Schools to conduct a census of school resource officers in public school units.
- Section 4.1. directs DPI and the Center for Safer Schools to develop a recommended program to facilitate the transfer of school mental health support personnel between school districts during or after a crisis.
- Section 6.1 requires DPI to study and report on school psychologist and school counselor positions.
Finally, the bill also funds eight, full-time equivalent positions for sworn agents at the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) to support the Behavioral Threat Assessment (BETA) program.
House Bill 75 was signed into law on September 19, with a retroactive effective date of July 1, 2019. The North Carolina Association of School Administrators (NCASA) would like to thank the primary bill sponsor, Rep. John Torbett (R-Gaston), for his continued efforts to increase funding for school safety initiatives, which remains one of NCASA’s top legislative priorities for 2019-2021.
Administrators interested in applying for school safety grant programs on behalf on their districts can learn more by visiting the Center for Safer Schools website here.