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NC House Panel Finalizes Draft Bill Seeking Early Start for 2020-21 School Year; Also Hears K-12 Funding Needs

Katherine Joyce | NCASA Executive Director

The Education Working Group of the House Select Committee on COVID-19 met this afternoon to hear specifics on $377 million funding needs school districts statewide have resulting from the coronavirus and school closure. The panel also finalized for consideration by the full General Assembly a draft bill outlining relief measures recommended for K-12 and the state’s other education sectors. The most significant additions to the bill are proposals on school calendar adjustments, including waiving the instructional time requirements in 2019-20 for all districts that conducted remote instruction during the school closure period, allowing all public schools to start the 2020-21 year as early as Aug. 17, and directing the State Board of Education to create a plan for some jump-start remedial sessions in August for struggling students before next school year.

Other proposals added to the working group’s earlier bill draft include measures to address funding flexibility needed by school districts and a one-year delay in the phase-in plan for lower class sizes in grades K-3.

The group also heard a presentation from the State Board of Education and the Department of Public Instruction on funding needed to assist school districts and students affected by COVID-19. The $377 million funding needs outlined in that presentation include support for child nutrition, exceptional children, remote teaching and learning, the summer jump-start sessions and other key resources. The funding needs were presented for information only and are not an official funding request to the General Assembly. Instead the information will help lawmakers determine if state funding will be essential to fill in any gaps not covered by federal relief funds already approved for schools in North Carolina and other states.

The draft bill, which has been summarized by the legislative staff, will go to the full General Assembly for consideration and possible action, when lawmakers convene for their 2020 short session next Tuesday, 4/28. The following are highlights of all new sections added to the proposed legislation today:

Section 3.5 Read to Achieve Waivers –

  • Subsection (c): Reading Camps and Recommendation for Alternative Interventions. – Waives reading camps corresponding to the 2019-2020 school year. Requires the State Board to submit recommendations to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee on alternative interventions to summer instruction.

Section 3.8 School Calendar and Attendance Modifications –

  • Subsection (a): 2019-2020 School Year Calendar. – Allows remote instruction to satisfy the statutory instructional time requirement.
  • Subsection (b): Student Attendance Enforcement for 2019-2020. – Waives attendance enforcement requirements during the school closure period.
  • Subsection (c): Supplemental Jump Start Instruction. – States the intent of the General Assembly to provide for supplementary summer instruction in August 2020.
  • Subsection (d): 2020-2021 School Year Calendar. – Allows public school units to begin the school year as early as August 17, 2020.

Section 4.1  Budget Flexibility for Local Boards of Education – 

  • Subsection (a): Flexibility for the Remainder of FY 2019-2020. – Provides increased flexibility for local boards of education to transfer the unexpended cash balance in an allotment category to another allotment category with certain limitations for the remainder of the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
  • Subsection (b): Flexibility for FY 2020-2021. – Provides increased flexibility for local boards of education to transfer funds from one allotment category to another allotment category with certain limitations for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

Section 4.2 Delay K-3 Class Size Reduction/Adjust Program Enhancement Teacher Allotment Funds. – Delays the kindergarten through third grade class size reduction for one school year and makes a corresponding reduction in the funding for program enhancement teacher positions for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

Section 5.2 Intent of General Assembly on 2019-2020 School Growth Scores and Principal Salaries. – Expresses the intent of the General Assembly to refrain from using 2019-2020 school growth scores when establishing the 2020-2021 Principal Salary Schedule and, if school growth scores are used, to use data from the 2018-2019 school year or earlier.

Section 6.1 Standardized Testing Waiver for Nonpublic Schools. – Waives requirements in the 2019-2020 school year for nonpublic schools to administer and maintain records of standardized tests.

Section 6.2 Attendance and Calendar Waiver for Nonpublic Schools. – Waives requirements for nonpublic schools to (i) keep attendance records during the closure of public schools by the Governor and (ii) operate for at least nine calendar months in the 2019-2020 school year.

Section 7.1 Standardized Testing and Reporting Waiver for Nonpublic Schools with Opportunity Scholarship Students. – Waives requirements in the 2019-2020 school year for nonpublic schools with students receiving opportunity scholarship grants to administer and report on standardized tests.

Section 7.2  Opportunity Scholarship Grant Late Disbursements. – Allows the State Education Assistance Authority (Authority) to use carryforward from the Opportunity Scholarship Program to remit scholarship grant funds by October 1, 2020, to a nonpublic school that was unable to complete a parent endorsement for those funds for the spring semester of the 2019-2020 school year.

Section 7.3 Extension of K-12 Scholarship Program Report Dates. – Provides a one-month extension for the Authority to submit its annual reports on the Opportunity Scholarship Grant Program and the Disabilities Grant Program to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee.

Section 8.1 Modifications related to Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs) –

  • Subsection (a): Waiver of Minimum EPP Admission Requirements – Waives the following minimum requirements for EPP admissions for the 2020-2021 academic year: (i) the testing requirement, (ii) the individual GPA requirement of at least a 2.7, provided the student has at least a 2.7 before beginning a clinical internship, and (iii) the cohort GPA requirement of at least a 3.0.
  • Subsection (c): Pedagogy Assessments for Certain Teacher Candidates – Provides that students whose clinical internship requirement is deemed completed pursuant to subsection (b) of this section shall not be required by an EPP to complete a nationally normed and valid pedagogy assessment to determine clinical practice performance or for completion of the EPP program for the 2019-2020 academic year but that those students shall be required to attempt the pedagogy assessment by the end of their first year of licensure and must pass the assessment by the end of their third year of licensure.

Section 8.3 Waiver of Certain Transforming Principal Prep Program Requirements – Provides that the school leader clinical practice requirement under G.S. 116-209.72(a)(2)e. will be deemed completed under certain conditions and that a grant recipient shall not have grant funds retrieved for failure to require school leader candidates to complete a full-time paid clinical practice of at least five months and 750 hours in duration as part of the program during the 2019-2020 academic year.      

Section 10 Waiver of Apprenticeship Requirement for Community College Tuition Waiver – Provides that a student who is unable to participate in an apprenticeship program due to the COVID-19 emergency may be eligible for a tuition waiver for community college courses until December 21, 2020.

Section 11.1 Waiver of Interest Charges on UNC Student Debt – Provides that a constituent institution shall not accrue or charge interest to a past due account receivable held by a student between March 13, 2020, and September 15, 2020.

Section 11.2 Extension of UNC Report Dates – Extends various report dates for The University of North Carolina.

Section 12 Allow Additional Semester for NC Scholarship for Children of War Time Veterans – Provides scholarship recipients to receive a waiver from the limitation on the time period for scholarships for an additional semester due to the COVID-19 emergency.

NCASA will be monitoring the next steps for this bill and any other issues affecting public schools, as the 2020 short session gets under way. Look for updates at www.ncasa.net, @NCASATweets on Twitter, and in our e-newsletter Leadership Link emailed to all members on Thursday afternoons.

A timely update on this proposed bill will be included in “NCASA’s Webinar on COVID-19 Relief for Public Schools” being held at 8:30 a.m. May 1. Registration is required for this free webinar that is open only to NCASA members and partners.

 

 

 

Katherine Joyce
kjoyce@ncasa.net
919-828-1426