School Voucher Expansion, Teacher License Reciprocity, & Other Bill Action This Week

This week was especially busy at the NC General Assembly, as lawmakers in both the House and Senate pushed a frenzy of bills forward ahead of Thursday’s May 4 bill crossover deadline, or the last day in which a policy bill can pass from its originating chamber and still be eligible to be heard in the other chamber. As a result of the impending deadline, several legislative committees, including the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee, held meetings on Monday, a day usually void of any substantive legislative work. That committee passed a bill making significant changes to the oversight of high school athletics, in addition to other bills proposing changes in the higher education space.

All bills heard in the Senate Education Committee were passed by the Senate ahead of the crossover deadline, and the House Education K-12 Committee met Tuesday for action on several bills as well. The House counterpart to a Senate bill that would greatly expand the state’s private school voucher program was amended and sent to the House Appropriations Committee. A separate bill proposing “open enrollment” for all public schools was removed from the House Education Committee altogether (although a related local bill affecting only Onslow County Schools did meet the crossover deadline this week). A bipartisan bill allowing public schools to hire “medical assistants” to provide nursing services under the supervision of a certified school nurse gained House K-12 approval but later stalled in the House Rules Committee. Other bills approved by the committee that met the crossover bill deadline include a proposal to provide teacher license reciprocity with other states,  a revised education studies bill (formerly entitled “Gooru Contract”), a greatly-improved charter school funding and oversight bill, and a new “Charter School Review Board” bill. Read below for highlights on these bills and other key K-12 education-related bills from this week. For a full list of all K-12 related bills that received action this week, please click HERE.

K-12 Bills In Education Committees

school athletic
S636: School Athletic Transparency — Forbids the State Board of Education (SBE) from delegating to an “administering organization” their authority to adopt various rules relating to high school athletics; shifts authority from the SBE to the Superintendent of Public Instruction to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for a term of four years to administer and enforce the athletics rules adopted by the SBE (and later amended on the House floor to require the Superintendent or an administering organization to provide written notice of their intent not to renew a MOU at least six months prior to expiration of the MOU); requires the SBE to adopt rules governing middle school athletics; requires each participating public school unit to annually report by June 15 information on money spent and money received from its interscholastic athletics programs; and requires the State Superintendent to study and report on various matters related to interscholastic athletics. STATUS: Ref. to House Rules Comm., passed Senate 5/3

H23: Education Studies and Other Changes — Revises the reporting date for myFutureNC Commission’s annual attainment goal report; sets study of ways to provide private placement options for students with disabilities with intensive needs; adds the President of the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, or designee, to the North Carolina Principal Fellows Commission; and raises the limit on funds that may be held at a school before a bank deposit is required from $250 to $1,500. An earlier provision allowing the Beaufort County Board of Education to use the Hillsdale College K-12 Curriculum was amended out of the bill on the House floor. STATUS: Passed House 5/3, sent to Senate

H219: Charter School Omnibus — The latest version of H219 does not include concerning language that would have required LEAs to share new types of supplemental funds with charter schools, nor does it include the section allowing charter schools to create micro school programs. The latest version also includes new requirements for charter schools regarding interscholastic athletics and allows charters to admit out-of-state and foreign exchange students under certain conditions. The bill retains the following other provisions: Prevents consideration of LEA impact statements in charter approvals and renewals; forbids consideration of student subgroup performance in some renewals; removes restrictions of growth for charters that are not low-performing; allows SBE consideration of growth greater than 20% for charter schools that are low-performing; allows pre-lottery admissions to charters for (i) certain preschools with agreements with the charter and (ii) children of active duty military; prohibits local boards of education from discriminating against charter school students; allows counties to appropriate property taxes to fund charter school capital needs; and requires state funds for charters to be based on actual enrollment, rather than attendance. STATUS: Passed House 5/3, sent to Senate

H618: Charter School Review Board — Converts the Charter Schools Advisory Board into the Charter Schools Review Board and shifts authority to approve charters from the State Board of Education to the Review Board, with a right of appeal to the State Board of Education. STATUS: Pass House 5/3, sent to Senate

H765: Public School Medical Assistants — Establishes a pilot program to allow “school medical assistants” to provide school nursing services in public schools under the supervision of a certified school nurse. STATUS: Ref. to House Rules Committee, and stalled there

H823 (=S406): Choose Your School, Choose Your Future — Makes all NC K-12 students eligible for Opportunity Scholarships (aka private school vouchers) with varying grant amounts based on household income. The revised version of the bill makes the scholarship eligibility changes effective beginning in 2024-2025, rather than 2023-2024 as initially proposed, and removes parts of the bill establishing 3-year graduation options and related scholarships. STATUS: Ref. to House Appropriations Comm.

H824: Teacher License Reciprocity from Every State — Grants a continuing professional license (CPL) to any teacher licensed in another state. As requested by NCASA, this bill was amended in committee to add provisions from a separate bill that would make the three-year limited license (LL) renewable. STATUS: Passed House 5/3, sent to Senate.

Key K-12 Related Bills In Other Committees
S20: Care for Women, Children, and Families Act. — In addition to repealing and replacing current abortion laws in North Carolina, the bill would grant state employees and school personnel eight weeks of paid leave after giving birth to a child and four weeks of paid leave after becoming a parent in any other manner, effective July 1, 2023, and provides $10 million in recurring funds for each year of the 2023-25 biennium to the NC Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) to fund this leave; also creates a new requirement for charter schools to meet the same health and safety requirements required of a local school administrative unit; and requires NCPDI to ensure charter schools provide students in grades 9-12 with information on the safe surrender of newborns. STATUS: Adopted by House 5/3; expected to be adopted by Senate 5/4 and sent to the Governor

H780: NC Special ID Cards for High School Students — Allows North Carolina residents who are at least 16 years old to obtain a special identification card for free and establishes a pilot program to issue these special ID cards to students in public high schools in Anson, Gaston, Mecklenburg, and Union Counties. STATUS: Re-ref. to House Rules Comm. 5/3 and stalled there

H799: Local Government Audits — Requires accountants performing annual audits for local governments, public authorities, and local school administrative units to be certified by the Local Government Commission as qualified to conduct such audits; requires the governing board of the local government, public authority, and local school administrative unit to solicit sealed bids from the accountants certified to conduct local governmental audits, and to make a selection based solely on cost, expertise, and time for completion of the audit; and appropriates $3.52 million in recurring funds to the NC Association of Regional Councils of Governments to provide accounting services to units of local government and public authorities, with a priority to those on the Unit Assistance List. STATUS: Approved by House Local Government Committee and referred to House Appropriations Comm. 5/2

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