Virtual Education, Principal Licensure, State Board Membership, & Other Bill Action This Week

Members of the Senate voted not to concur on Wednesday with House changes to a bill laying out new parameters for virtual education and remote academies in the state. The primary bill sponsor, Senate Education Co-Chair Michael Lee (R-New Hanover) asked fellow Senators not to concur with the latest version of Senate Bill 671, noting “slight changes” needed to be made. The bill contains helpful NCASA-requested items such as authorization for LEAs to provide full-time virtual instruction, as well as authorization to use a limited number of remote instruction days instead of closing schools for inclement weather. However, S671 also contains several problematic provisions, such as a 15% cap on LEA enrollment in remote academies and enrollment minimums to qualify for a state-funded remote academy principal. The bill, which was already approved by House members, will now be sent to a conference committee of House and Senate negotiators who will work to create a compromise bill.

While Senators did not approve S671 this week, they voted in favor of House Bill 79, clarifying high school athletic insurance requirements, and House Bill 159, making technical changes to education laws and extending the principal licensure requirements waiver until August 2024. These bills have been sent back to the House for a final concurrence vote.

In the House this week, House K-12 Education Committee Chair Rep. Hugh Blackwell (R-Burke) filed a bill on Wednesday that would ask voters on the November 2022 ballot to amend the state Constitution to require all State Board of Education members to be elected and not appointed. House Bill 1173 would also promote the State Superintendent of Public Instruction from Secretary of the Board to Chair of the Board. If eventually signed into law and approved by voters, these changes would become effective January 1, 2024 and apply to terms of office beginning January 1, 2025. It is not yet known whether the bill will be heard in committees and voted on before the end of the month, when lawmakers are hoping to adjourn the legislative session until next year.

To access NCASA’s full list of K-12 education-related bills that were introduced or received action this past week, click HERE.

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