Senate Approves Changes For Charter Schools As State Budget Delay Continues

It became clear this week that lawmakers would not meet their initial goal of passing a state budget before the July 1 start of the new fiscal year, with many lawmakers now estimating a final budget package to be shared after July 24. Because North Carolina has laws allowing state operations to continue at the previous year’s expenditure levels when a new state budget is delayed, the NC Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) recently shared guidance for public schools to operate under a “continuation budget” until the new budget becomes law. Despite the state budget delay, education bills continued to advance through the legislature this week, including H219, a charter school omnibus bill approved by the Senate on Thursday following slight amendments in the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday.

The latest version of H219, as summarized by legislative staff here, retains many of the potentially problematic changes to the charter school approval and governance system, but does not include initial bill language that would force local education agencies (LEAs) to share certain supplemental funds with charters. The bill as approved would also allow charters to access capital funding through their local county commissioners but does not include any other major funding changes. During Thursday’s Senate floor session, Democrats proposed several amendments addressing remaining key concerns, such as allowing low-performing charters to unilaterally increase their enrollment growth by up to 20%; however, these amendments failed or were tabled by a majority of Republican lawmakers. The bill will now be sent to the House for a final concurrence vote, likely to occur the week after the July 4 holiday, and if approved, will be sent to the Governor for final consideration.

Other Education Bills With Bill Action This Week

  • H852: The Rep. Becky Carney Cardiac Arrest Act — Requires the placement of automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) in all schools in public school units; Provides training for school personnel on the use of AEDs; Includes $9.2 million in nonrecurring funds to be allocated by DPI on a first-come, first-served basis for the 2023-24 fiscal year. Passed House 6/28, to be sent to Senate.
  • S411: Various Education Changes — Requires medical condition action plans for at-risk students in all PSUs; requires medical emergency plans outlining requires response of public school unit (PSU) employees when a student has a medical emergency not covered by the medical condition action plan; allows students in home schools to participate in advanced placement (AP) exams and the PSAT/PreACT; allows parental choice in nursing service providers required by an individualized education program (IEP); and allows licensed registered nurses with at least two years of practical experience to employed as school nurses without being required to obtain any other certification or license. Senate failed to concur with House changes 6/28, to be sent to a conference committee.

Please click HERE to access NCASA’s weekly bill tracking list highlighting all education-related bills with action this week.

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