June 19, 2017 Legislative Update

Current Legislative Activity

2017 Crossover Deadline

With the “crossover” deadline now passed, the General Assembly continues to work on the final budget for 2017-2018 and continues to debate policy measures. If a bill did not pass through either chamber by the crossover date (April 27th 2017), it is generally regarded as dead for this biennium session. However, there can be some exceptions* but generally the crossover deadline is a key hurdle that must be crossed in the life of a bill. Legislation which appropriates dollars such as teacher’s salaries will be found in the budget to be passed later in the session. The budget, along with resolutions and Constitutional Amendments are not subject to the crossover deadline.

*Eligible to file in 2017 but no deadlines: (1) Redistricting bills for House, Senate, Congress or local entities (H). (2) Ratification of amendments to the Constitution of the United States (H). (3) Bills introduced on the report of the House Committees on Appropriations, Finance, or Rules. (H) (4) Bills providing for action on gubernatorial nominations or appointments. (S) (5)Adjournment resolution (H & S). * No filing deadline for bills providing for amendments to the NC Constitution and bills containing statutory amendments necessary to implement the proposed amendments.

Click HERE for a detailed comparison between the House, Senate, and Governor's proposed budgets in regards to education. The General Assembly is negotiating through these versions to forumate a final version anticipated later this week.

Enacted Bills 2017

HB 13, which was negotiated by PENC lobbyists and publicly stated by the Senate, funds all Specials Teachers as a single line item in year 2 of the biennium budget ensuring no job losses. This bill, now signed into law by the Governor, eases the pressures of LEAs to meet General Assembly class size mandates. In addition, flexibility is given to LEA’s as they work to lower class sizes and will ensure that LEA’s report to the General Assembly their plans to meet these objectives for the 2018-2019 school year.

Policy Bills Which Have Met “Crossover”

APPROPRIATIONS / BUDGET

HB6, Education Finance Reform Task Force

HB6 establishes the Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform.  This Task Force would be required to study a variety of weighted student formula funding models and would create a new funding model for North Carolina’s elementary and secondary public schools.

ACCOUNTABILITY / TESTING

HB90, Eliminate NC Final Exam

HB90 eliminates the NC Final Exam and the analysis of student work as a means to assess teacher performance and professional growth as a part of the North Carolina Teacher Evaluation System.

A substitute bill was approved by the Senate Education committee which likely means that this bill will not survive the 2017 session.

HB322, School Performance Grade

HB322 increases the weight of school growth in the calculation of school performance scores.  The new formula would require that school achievement scores and school growth scores each account for 50% of the total for each school’s performance score and grade.

HB458,School Annual Report Card

HB458 alters the A-F School Performance Grade to allow for two separate grades, one for achievement and one for growth.

HB751, Career and College Ready / High School Graduates (included in House budget)

HB751 mandates that all students who receive a high school diploma to demonstrate a certain level of reading achievement.

HB826, Modify Low-Performing School Definition (included in House budget)

HB826 states that schools receiving a school performance rate of “D” or “F” yet meeting “expected growth” no longer fall under the definition of low-performing schools.

CALENDAR

HB375, School Calendar Flex./Community College calender

HB375 enables each LEA to schedule its start date in order to coincide with the start date of a community college serving the city or county of the LEA,although the start date may be no earlier than August 15.

HB389, School Calendar Flexibility Pilot Program (included in House budget)

HB389 allows pilot calendar flexibility for 20 LEAs and permits those LEAs to start school no earlier than August 10 for three school years.

CHARTER SCHOOLS & HOME SCHOOLS

HB514, Permit Municipal Charter Schools / Certain Towns

HB514 permits the towns of Matthews and Mint Hill to apply to open charter schools within some parameters established by the legislature..

HB779, Charter School Changes

HB779 states that enrollment growth of more than 30% will be considered a material revision of a charter that would require approval by the SBE; adds an enrollment priority category for students who were enrolled in another State charter school in the previous school year; and permits charter schools to operate NC Pre-K programs.

HB800, Various Changes to Charter School Laws

HB800 grants priority enrollment of up to 50% of the school for children of employees of a charter partner; charter partners in turn would provide technology or capital assistance to the charter school.  HB800 also permits teachers to be employed by an Education Management Organization rather than directly by the charter board of directors, and requires decisions to be made in fewer than 90 days from the application submission date for fast track replications.

CURRICULUM

HB97, Arts Education Requirement (included in House budget)

HB97 requests the State Board of Education to require one arts education credit for graduate from high school beginning with those students entering the sixth grade in 2020.

HB534, Computer Coding Course Elective

HB534 mandates that the State Board of Education must develop and identify courses in computer programming and coding that may be offered as an elective course in middle school and high school.

HB833, Driver Education Oversight / Lane Departure

HB833 launches an Office of Driver Education Services to oversee the driver education program in the Department of Public Instruction.

FACILITIES / PURCHASING

HB600, School Construction Flexibility

HB600 allows additional flexibility to LEAs to enter into leases for school buildings and other facilities and amend the procedures for Qualified Zone Academy Bonds.

GOVERNANCE

HB704, Divide School Systems / Study Committee

HB 704 creates a Joint Legislative Study Committee to examine the division of LEAs.

SB531, School Boards Can’t Sue Counties (included in Senate budget)

SB531 repeals the statutory authority for an LEA to file a legal action challenging the sufficiency of funds appropriated to it by the Board of County Commissioners.

PERSONNEL

HB155, Modify Educator Licensure Requirements

HB 155 allows a retired teacher with 30-years experience to qualify for continuing licensure not only for substitute teaching, but also if he or she engages in a part-time position providing any of the following services: classroom instruction, tutoring, mentoring teachers, modeling, demonstrating lessons for teachers, writing curricula, developing and leading staff development programs for teachers, or working in after-school programs.  HB155 also authorizes a retired principal or assistant principal to serve as interim principal for the remainder of a school year, regardless of current licensure status.

HB34, Private Alternative Teacher Preparation (included in House budget)

HB34 permits the State Board of Education to approve alternative, private, for-profit, or non-profit lateral entry programs.

HB681, Teacher Licensure / Military Spouses

HB681 reduces the burden on military spouses to obtain N.C. teacher licenses by exempting testing requirements in certain circumstances, requires the State Board to establish procedures to consolidate the lateral entry process, and directs the Department of Public Instruction to study the feasibility of expediting the processing of military spouse licensure applications.

SB 169, Teaching Excellence Bonus Expansion

SB169 supplies bonuses for certain teachers who, without any fault of their own, would have received bonuses under the Third Grade Teacher Performance Pilot Program or the Advanced Placement / International Baccalaureate Teacher Bonus Pilot Program established in the 2016 budget.

SB448, Professors in the Classroom

SB448 allows LEAs to employ faculty members in higher education to serve as adjunct instructors for core academic subjects without being required to obtain a teaching license.

STATE HEALTH PLAN

HB24, Study Unfunded Liability / Retiree Health Fund

HB24 creates a Joint Legislative Committee on the Unfunded Liability of the Retiree Health Benefit Fund.  The Committee also, as a means to reduce the unfunded liability, must explore increasing assets in the Retiree Health Benefit Fund through appropriation; raising the costs of the retiree benefits borne by the federal government; reducing the State’s future liability by transitioning to a different model; decreasing the number of people eligible for retiree benefits; mandating that employees must contribute to the Retiree Health Benefit; increasing the amount that retirees pay for health benefits; and consider any other proposals that may reduce the unfunded liability.

STUDENT SAFETY

SB55, School Bus Cameras / Civil Penalties

SB55 allows counties to adopt ordinances implementing civil penalties for passing a stopped school bus, and authorizes local boards of education to install and operate automated school bus safety cameras themselves or to contract with vendors to install and operate the cameras.

TAX AND REVENUE

SB75, Construction. AMD. - Max. Income Tax Rate of 5.5%

SB75 would propose to voters in November 2018 an amendment to the North Carolina Constitution to cap the tax on both personal and corporate incomes at 5.5%, below the current cap of 10%.

Other Bills to Watch in 2017

The following bills did not meet the Crossover deadline, but could still emerge as policy later this session, due to parliamentary maneuvering, either in the budget or as standalone legislature. (See explanation of “crossover” and exceptions in the introduction.)

HB117, Protect Students in Schools

HB117 mandates that all LEAs must check all applicants for a criminal history using a consumer reporting agency, the Department of Public Safety, or both, before allowing unconditional employment.

HB339/S252, North Carolina Teaching Fellows (included in House and Senate budgets)

HB339 / SB252 re-establishes the N.C. Teaching Fellows Program to provide forgivable loans to students preparing to serve as licensed teachers in STEM subject areas and in special education.

HB583, Pay-As-You-Go Capital & Infrastructure Fund (included in House budget)

HB583 establishes the State Capital and Infrastructure Fund, which will utilize debt service savings to provide for additional debt service obligations, capital improvements, economic development, and early debt repayment.

SB159 / SB 254, Access to Sports / Extracurricular Certain Students

SB 159 / SB 254 permits students at a private school or home school that does not have an interscholastic athletics program for a given sport to participate in the sport at the “base public high school,” or at the high school nearest to the base school if the base school does not offer the particular sport.  Also, if no public school offers a particular sport team, a public high school student, including a charter school student, may participate in that sport at the high school closest to the student’s school which has that program.  The bills also have provisions that would allow a high school student at a private school, home school, or charter school to participate in a extracurricular activity at a public high school if their school does not offer the particular extracurricular activity.

SB234, SBA Pay / Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund (partially included in Senate plan)

SB234 SBA allows a 7% increase for principals yet provides principal funds in a block grant, allows a 13% increase tied to the teacher “A” scale for assistant principals.  All new funds expended under these plans will come from Lottery revenue.  The bills also devise a new capital fund for the State’s neediest counties.

SB291, NCVPS / Equal Access to Education

SB291 allows equal access for private and homeschool students to be eligible for courses and to be charged the same rate as public school students by the North Carolina Virtual Public School programs; the bill also allocates funding for these rates.

SB447, Turning TAs Into Teachers (included in Senate budget)

SB447 broadens the teacher assistant tuition reimbursement pilot program established in the 2016 budget legislation to include 10 additional LEAs.

SB467, North Carolina Retirement Reform (partially included in Senate budget)

SB467 ends TSERS’ Retirement System (pension) for personnel hired beginning July 1, 2018 and directs those hires to the North Carolina 401 (k) Plan or the North Carolina 457 Plan.  SB467 also discontinues Retiree Medical Insurance for new hires after July 1, 2018.

SB517, North Carolina New Teacher Support Act

SB517 allocates for highly qualified graduates who meet certain qualifications to be paid at a higher experience level on the teacher salary schedule, and issues reimbursement of the initial teacher licensure fee for successful applicants who graduated from in-state educator preparation programs.

SB542 / HB866, Public School Building Bond Act of 2017

SB541 / HB866 issues a $1.9 billion general obligation bond to provide funds for public school facilities through grants to counties for public health capital outlay projects.

SB562, Local Funds for Charter Schools

SB562 mandates that a Board of County Commissioners appropriate a per pupil amount of funds to a charter school for each student enrolled in the charter school who also resides in a LEA in that county.

SB598, Future Teachers of North Carolina (included in Senate budget)

SB598 creates “Future Teachers of North Carolina” as a high school course offering to encourage high-achieving students with strong academics and interpersonal and leadership skills to consider teaching as a career.

SB599, Excellent Educators for Every Classroom

SB599 creates the Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission, permits the expansion of educator preparation programs, and gradually eliminate lateral entry licensure and replaces it with “residency licensure.”

SB603, Exceptional Education for Exceptional Children (included in Senate budget)

SB603 creates and appropriates $20M in Education Savings Accounts for children with disabilities.

SB658, Charter School Funds

SB658 states that Boards of County Commissioners must decide how to provide funds to charter schools; possible options include direct appropriation of county funds for the operation of the charter school, appropriation of funds to a charter school for capital outlay purposes, or appropriation of county funds to local school administrative units that transfer funds to the charter school for students who reside in the local school administrative unit.  

Submitted by Bryan Holloway
For information about specific issues, please contact lobbyist@pencweb.org.


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