State House leaders this week rolled out Senate Bill 508 containing a slate of technical corrections to the recently enacted state budget law, and the new bill includes a proposed change to the state’s new early graduate program. S508 gained approval in the House and was sent to the Senate for concurrence, but the Senate did not consider it Wednesday before both chambers recessed their legislative session until Nov. 29th.
This legislative break means the changes NCASA and the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) have been pursuing on the early graduate program will be put on hold until at least early December. NCASA and DPI had both requested lawmakers to adjust the early graduate program enacted in the 2023 state budget to allow school districts to continue requiring more credits for graduation than the 22 credits the state now requires. Requested changes also include requiring students who want to graduate in three years, starting at the end of 2024-25, to seek a waiver to do so, with mandatory parental involvement.
Section 2.2 of S508 now proposes delaying from Nov. 1 till Feb. 15, 2024, the requirement for the State Board of Education to adopt an emergency rule and sequence of courses to establish the early graduate program to be made available starting with current 10th graders who could graduate after their junior year in June 2025. That provision of S508 does not include the requested waiver process for students who want to graduate early or the authority for school districts to require more graduation credits than the state’s minimum requirement. NCASA and DPI are continuing to seek these additions to S508 before it gains final approval and the current legislative session ends.
Other changes to K-12 education also are proposed in S508 and include the following:
- Section 2.1. Patriot Star Family Scholarship Changes — Reappropriates some funds previously allocated for the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation for the NC Patriot Star Family Scholarship Program to instead be allocated to the Patriot Foundation, to administer the program.
- Section 2.3. Delays till 2024-2025 the in-person instruction requirement for nonpublic schools to receive Opportunity Scholarship funds.
- Section 2.4. Clarify Forgiveness Criteria For Teaching Fellows Program by indicating teachers must serve in a qualifying licensure area.
- Section 2.5. Correct Cross Reference For Certain SEAA And DNPE Reporting Requirements — Corrects citation references for non-public school reporting requirements to the State Education Assistance Authority (SEAA) and the Division of Non-Public Education (DNPE).
- Section 7.1. Clarify Dates For Principal Salary Schedule — Corrects two incorrect date references in the principal salary schedule to ensure adjustments for growth scores and ADM changes occur in the second half of the 2023-2024 school year.
- Section 8.1. Funding For Time-Limited Positions For State Capital and Infrastructure Fund (SCIF) Grant Allocation Processing — Allows the Office of State Budget and Management to use up to $1 million in the 2023-2025 fiscal biennium to fund up to five temporary positions to assist in the administration of grants and other funding allocations from the SCIF.