LEGISLATIVE & POLICY NEWS

  • 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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  • Rehired Retiree And Teacher Licensure Law Fixes Gain Legislative Approval, Sent To Governor

    The House and Senate both approved on Monday Senate Bill 621, dealing mainly with public school testing reform, but also including time-sensitive clarifications to recent laws regarding rehired retirees in Senate Bill 399 and teacher licensure changes in Senate Bill 219. The approved S621 was sent to Governor Roy Cooper, who has until Sept. 7 to determine whether to sign, veto, or allow the bill to become law without his signature. The NC Association of School Administrators (NCASA) has contacted the Governor’s Office to urge a quick signature on this important measure, which we are optimistic will soon become law.

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  • Lawmakers Approve ‘Mini Budget Bills’ On Salary Increases; Governor Urges Negotiation On Full State Spending Package

    Lawmakers this week rolled out and approved a series of “mini budget bills” that pulled previous salary increases from the vetoed budget in House Bill 966 and sent them as separate pay-proposal bills to Governor Roy Cooper. Meanwhile, the Governor sent all school superintendents a letter on Tuesday urging them to encourage lawmakers to “negotiate and pass a responsible budget.” The letter and public comments from the Governor this week both create uncertainty over whether he will sign the piecemeal-budget bills. In his letter, he emphasizes his priorities for a budget compromise include Medicaid expansion, “better salary increases for teachers and non-certified school personnel,” and the “first statewide bond referendum to build public schools in nearly a quarter-century.”

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  • Governor's Letter to Superintendents Regarding State Budget

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  • Republican Leaders Push Forward Piecemeal State Budget Provisions, Employee Compensation Packages To Be Discussed Next Week

    After weeks without any new action on the vetoed State budget, Republican leaders in the House and Senate have begun pulling certain budget provisions to run as separate, mini budget bills. Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) confirmed yesterday during a press conference on returning surplus funds to taxpayers that they have begun sending forward pieces of the budget that are “widely agreed upon” for stand-alone approval.

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  • Lawmakers Propose Needed Clarifications To Recent Laws On Retirees Teaching And Teacher Licensure Changes

    A bill dealing with public school testing reform emerged from a House-Senate negotiating committee late Wednesday, and now includes greatly needed changes to two laws passed earlier this session that triggered some negative unintended consequences for hiring teachers for the new school year. The Conference Committee proposal for Senate Bill 621 now includes clarifying changes to previously enacted Senate Bill 399 regarding retirees returning to the classroom, as well as Senate Bill 219 regarding teacher licensure. The clarifying changes to both laws were requested by the NC Association of School Administrators (NCASA), which has worked feverishly the last few weeks to convince lawmakers that these time-sensitive changes are critical for school districts.

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  • Compromise Legislation On Testing Reform To Face House, Senate Floor Votes Next Week

    A House-Senate negotiating committee reached a compromise Wednesday on changes needed to the state’s public school testing requirements. That compromise, contained in the Conference Committee proposal for Senate Bill 621, is set for both House and Senate floor votes Monday 8/26.

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  • Lincoln County Schools Superintendent Appointed To AASA Governing Board, Joins Greene And Rockingham Superintendents In National Service

    Dr. Lory Morrow, Superintendent of Lincoln County Schools, has joined Dr. Patrick Miller, Superintendent of Greene County Schools, in representing North Carolina on the Governing Board for the American Association of School Administrators (AASA). Dr. Morrow, who also is President-Elect of the North Carolina Association of School Administrators (NCASA), was recognized for this appointment Tuesday at her local board of education meeting by Jack Hoke, Executive Director of the North Carolina School Superintendents’ Association (NCSSA), which is one of NCASA’s core affiliates.

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  • What’s Happening — Or Not Happening — At The NC General Assembly

    With most traditional public schools in NC starting school Aug. 26, many educators are growing increasingly concerned by the lack of a new state budget and the funding it provides. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper vetoed the budget proposal offered by Republican leadership 27 days ago, yet a compromise on a permanent state spending plan is nowhere in sight. According to Lauren Horsch, a political reporter for the NC Insider state government news service, it costs about $46,000 per day to hold a legislative session, meaning it has cost NC taxpayers nearly $1.2 million so far to continue General Assembly operations without a budget. Legislators have held a few committee meetings or floor votes on some of these days, but most recent days have seen empty hallways and little to no legislative action.

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