State Board Of Education Discusses Principal Pay ‘Hold Harmless,’ Licensure Requirements

State Board of Education members discussed during October’s monthly meeting two major updates for principals across North Carolina, including the principal pay “retention bonus” and the latest recommendations on principal licensure requirements. While NCASA plans to share a full State Board of Education meeting summary in next week’s newsletter, please see the following updates for principals:

Principal Pay Retention Bonus/Hold Harmless

The NC Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) clarified on Wednesday that principal “retention supplements” provided by the Department using federal relief funds would be considered a part of their salary, thus allowing these supplements to count toward retirement calculations. During the Business Operations Committee (BSOP) portion of Wednesday’s State Board of Education meeting, NCDPI financial staff shared a new draft allotment policy that lays out requirements for the supplement, which will be provided to principals who will be negatively affected by the new principal pay calculation set to take effect in January 2023.

As previously announced by State Superintendent Catherine Truitt, NCDPI plans to draw from the federal Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) III Fund to compensate NC principals whose salaries will decrease by as much as $18,000, based on new language in the state’s budget passed in July. Specifically, this budget language modifies the calculation of principal pay based on student performance, so that salaries would be calculated based on only one year (2021-2022), rather than looking at the past three years to calculate performance. Because many of these affected principals had a pre-pandemic history of high performance, and federal relief funds may be used as “retention bonuses” to retain high-performing principals, these bonuses will have the practical effect of holding these principal salaries harmless from decreases in the new year.

Principals should note, however, that this policy does not apply to principals who may experience decreases in salary due to changes in average daily membership (ADM). The policy also notes that LEAs have “discretion in determining the timing and frequency” of these retention supplements, provided the LEA gives at least half of the supplement by July 1, 2023 and provides the entire supplement amount by December 31, 2023.

Principal Licensure Requirements Update

During the Educator Standards and Practice Committee (ES&P) portion of Wednesday’s meeting, NCDPI staff presented the latest recommendations for changes to principal preparation requirements, which includes suggestions for the following licensure components: (1) licensure exam; (2) year-long internship; (3) work experience; and (4) Master’s Degree.

Regarding the licensure exam, NCDPI staff recommended the exam requirement be discontinued, and replaced by an “evidence-based portfolio.” For the internship requirement, staff recommended the year-long internship be defined as “10 months or 500-1,000 hours.” Lastly, staff also recommended applicants have at least four years of work experience as a licensed educator (including work as support service personnel — school counselors, media coordinators, or social workers), as well as a Master’s of School Administration degree or an add-on licensure program if the applicant holds a Master’s degree in a related field.

These latest recommendations are the culmination of several months of work by NCDPI staff and the Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission (PEPSC) to gather feedback from principals and stakeholder groups on which items should be included in a new principal licensure process. NCDPI staff discovered several months ago that many principals were issued licenses over the past decade that did not technically meet state principal licensure requirements, primarily because these applicants did not take a licensure exam as required in state statute. As a result, the state legislature passed a law providing a waiver from licensure requirements for those individuals until August 31, 2022, and then later extended that waiver until August 31, 2024.

Members of the State Board of Education voted during October’s meeting to approve these latest recommendations, which will be sent to the General Assembly for further consideration by state lawmakers.

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