House Proposes Local Sales Tax Flexibility For Public Education, Approves Changes to ISD and Student Conduct Standards
Elizabeth Yelverton | NCASA Legal Affairs & Policy Manager
It was another slow week at the legislature, with the Senate taking another week off and the House holding very few committee meetings as the budget impasse continues. House lawmakers pushed forward a couple of bills regarding changes to the Innovative School District (ISD) and student conduct standards, and also appointed certain members to a conference committee to work out proposed changes to the State’s Read to Achieve program. Notably, House lawmakers also amended a rural health care bill to add a provision giving counties the flexibility to levy, by referendum, an additional quarter-cent local sales tax, which could be used for public education purposes. Since last week’s publication, the Governor also signed into law two education-related bills, and vetoed a bill which would have expanded enrollment for NC virtual charter schools. The legislature also presented to the Governor the Senate’s stopgap budget proposal, which would not affect K-12 education funding, but would ensure continuity in certain federal grant programs while budget negotiations continue.
Summary: Changes the selection process for schools in the Innovative School District (ISD); Requires additional reporting by local boards of education to county commissioners on the academic performance of certain schools; Requires additional study on changes to the ISD and statutes related to low-performing schools; Makes various changes to teacher licensure exam requirements.
Status: Passed in House 7/29; Placed on 8/1 Senate Calendar (action unlikely until 8/5)
Summary: Would make the following changes to student discipline policies:
- Require local boards of education (LBEs) to consult with teachers, school-based administrators, parents, and local law enforcement agencies when adopting policies related to student conduct;
- Require LBEs to review current federal guidance prior to adopting discipline policies;
- Require LBEs to send their most current discipline policies to the Department of Public Instruction each year by September 1;
- Remove the statutory examples deemed to not be serious violations of the LBE's Code of Student Conduct;
- Authorize LBEs to require students and parents or guardians to sign an acknowledgement that they received a copy of any discipline policies, procedures, or rules;
- Encourage school officials to inform parents or guardians before responding to disciplinary violations; and
- Clarify that State law does not regulate an LBE's discretion to devise, impose, or enforce personal appearance codes.
Status: Passed House K-12 Education Committee 7/30; Re-referred to House Rules Committee
Summary: Makes various changes to the NC Read to Achieve Program, focusing on improving individual student reading proficiency, creating uniform statewide plans for literacy improvement, and strengthening literacy training for teachers. House lawmakers successfully amended the bill to allow local boards of education to select K-3 reading diagnostic assessments, rather than exclusively use the iStation diagnostic program. The House also amended the bill to require education stakeholders to consider “national and international literacy research, programs, and initiatives” in developing a statewide “Comprehensive Plan to Improve Literacy Instruction.” The Senate failed to concur with the amended version of the bill, and has appointed Senate members to a conference committee for further discussion. The House appointed members to the conference committee this week.
Status: Conference Committee appointed in House 7/30
Summary: Provides counties with the flexibility to levy, by referendum, an additional quarter-cent local sales tax, which could be used for public education; Also establishes a program to provide low-interest loans for rural hospitals in financial crisis and expands the counties eligible for grants from the Industrial Development Fund Utility Account
Status: Passed House Rules 7/31; Placed on House Calendar
Summary: Makes changes to various education reports including date changes, repeals of certain reports, and modifications of information to be reported. It would also (i) clarify the Education Workforce Innovation Commission's membership, (ii) stagger the appointments to the Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission, and (iii) exempt the State Board's charter actions from contested case provisions.
Status: Signed into law by Governor 7/26
Summary: Provides a limited exception to the prohibition on youth participating in occupations found detrimental by the Commissioner of Labor when the youth is participating in a supervised, practice experience.
Status: Signed into law by Governor 7/26
Summary: Appropriates money from certain federal block grant funds; makes no changes to K-12 education funding.
Status: Presented to Governor 7/26