Legislature Approves Read To Achieve Compromise, Eliminating LEA Flexibility To Choose Assessment
Katherine Joyce | NCASA Legal Affairs & Policy Manager
The Senate on Wednesday voted 28-4 to give final approval to a compromise negotiated with the House on changes to the Read to Achieve program. The House quickly followed suit this morning and voted 68-48 in favor of the revised Senate Bill 438, as recommended by the bill negotiators.
The new bill differs from a prior version approved earlier by the House, which had provided an option for LEAs to choose their own diagnostic assessment vendor for Read to Achieve. House members previously approved the added diagnostic flexibility in a successful amendment from Rep. Graig Meyer (D-Orange). The removal of Meyer’s flexibility provision in the latest version now means that all LEAs statewide must use the single assessment vendor approved under the state contract, which is iStation.
The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk, where he will have 10 days to decide whether to veto, sign the bill, or let it become law without his signature.
In other education bill action this week:
The Senate removed several House-approved bills from the chamber’s floor calendar and sent them to the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee on Wednesday. Those bills, which had been scheduled for a vote of Senate concurrence with House changes, included:
- Senate Bill 5, School Safety Omnibus;
- Senate Bill 123, Geographically Isolated Schools/Transportation Efficiency Buffer/Currituck County Schools; and
- Senate Bill 522, Low-Performing Schools.
S522 contains changes to support for low-performing schools and a new timeline for shifting a school or schools to the Innovative School District. It also includes changes that the N.C. Association of School Administrators has requested to enacted Senate Bill 219, the teacher licensure changes law, to make lateral entry and residency-licensed teachers eligible for some of the new employment options recently created for teachers with an Initial Professional License (IPL). These clarifications are important and time-sensitive in helping LEAs place teachers for the 2019-20 school year, and NCASA will continue pursuing these changes and urging quick action on them.
Late Wednesday, the House approved Senate Bill 681, Rural Health Care/Local Sales Tax Flexibility/Utility Account, and sent it to the Senate for concurrence. The bill, as revised by the House, would increase the local option sales tax that counties can put on a voter referendum from 0.25% to 0.50%. The local tax could be used for public school capital needs or retiring capital debt, as well as local salary supplements for certain teachers, community college support or other public purposes identified by the county.
The Senate on Tuesday voted to reject House changes to Senate Bill 199, Child Sex Abuse/Strengthen Laws. At this time, a conference committee of House and Senate negotiators has not been appointed to reconcile the two chambers’ differences in the proposed legislation.
The House on Tuesday approved two Senate bills that had been revised into the following multi-topic pieces of legislation:
- Senate Bill 230, NC Military and Veteran Act if 2019; and
- Senate Bill 458, Posttraumatic Stress Day/Cardiac Task Force/Titus’s Law/Data.
The former would provide for a minimum of 2 days per academic year for a student’s excused absences related to a parent or legal guardian's service in a combat zone. The latter would establish the Joint Legislative Task Force on Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Student Athletes, with a report due to the General Assembly on or before April 1, 2020. Both bills were sent to the Senate for concurrence on the House changes.