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General Assembly Passes Budget Technical Corrections Bill

State lawmakers this week quickly passed a 60-page bill that includes various “technical corrections” to the 2023 state budget passed in October, including several changes related to public education. While many of these provisions are limited to certain districts, a few of the changes will affect all public school districts, including a clarification that allows for parental opt-out of student participation in the North Carolina Youth Tobacco Survey, a requirement that high school students complete the required Career Development Plan within 90 days of enrollment (beginning with the 2024-2025 school year), and more. The revised version of Senate Bill 508 was publicly released on Wednesday and then approved by a majority of House lawmakers the same day, with members of the Senate approving the bill on Thursday.

The bill includes the following K-12 education-related provisions, which are retroactive to July 1, 2023, unless otherwise noted:

  • Stokes County/Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund (Sec. 1.8) — Directs the NC Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) to allow Stokes County Schools to apply for a grant from the Needs-Based Public Schools Capital Fund without approval from the Stokes Co. Commission and allows Stokes County Schools to pay matching funds and enter into any agreement if a grant is awarded. This section expires June 30, 2026.
  • Reinstate Reporting Requirement For Transportation Reserve Fund For Homeless And Foster Children (Sec. 2.4) — Revises language under the Transportation Reserve Fund for Homeless and Foster Children, codified in S.L. 2023-134, to add the annual report omitted from codification.
  • Special Needs Pilot Program Reporting Adjustment (Sec 2.5) — Clarifies that NCDPI should submit required reporting for the Special Needs Pilot Program to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee.
  • Delay In-Person Instruction Requirement For Opportunity Scholarship Funds (Sec. 2.7) — Delays for one year the requirement that a nonpublic school must have an in-person learning facility in order to accept opportunity scholarship funds for remote-only students.
  • Clarify Name of Youth Tobacco Survey (Sec. 2.8) — Adds the North Carolina Youth Tobacco Survey to the list of surveys that are opt-out rather than opt-in for S.L. 2023-106, the Parents’ Bill of Rights.
  • School Resource Officers In Nonpublic Schools (Sec. 2.8A) — Enables a private school to enter into an agreement with a local law enforcement agency to provide a school resource officer for the private school.
  • Lower Eligibility Age For Educational Opportunities Program & Prioritize Admissions For Older Applicants (Sec. 2.8B) — Lowers the eligibility age from 22 to 18 for the “College of Educational Opportunities Program” created for eligible students with intellectual and developmental disabilities; prioritizes admissions for older applicants.
  • Revise Career Development Plan Requirements (Sec. 2.8C) — Revises the Career Development Plan requirements for high school students to require completing the plan within 90 days of enrollment in school. Section becomes effective July 1, 2024, and applies beginning with the 2024-2025 school year.
  • Clarify Eligibility For Certain 2021 Bonuses For Local Education Employees For Work During The Pandemic (Sec. 2.8D) — Clarifies that for state-funded bonuses awarded to state employees for work during the pandemic, the term “local education employee” includes all qualifying employees and contractors; makes section effective date retroactive to July 1, 2021.
  • Grant Boards Of Schools For The Deaf And Blind Early Contract & Policy Authority (Sec. 2.8E) — Changes the effective date for contract and policymaking authority for the boards of trustees from July 1, 2024 to May 1, 2024 so they may enter into contracts before July 1.
  • Change Application Time Line For Plasma Games Grant Program (Sec. 2.8F) —Updates application timelines and requires NCDPI to make grant recipient determinations “within 30 days of the close of the application period.”
  • Clarify Certain Dates For Principal Salary Schedule (Sec. 2.9) — Corrects an incorrect date reference in the Principal Salary Schedule in Section 7A.6 of S.L. 2023-134 to ensure growth scores and ADM adjustments occur in the second half of the 2023-2024 school year.
  • Clarify Forgiveness Criteria For Teaching Fellows Program (Sec. 2.14) — Clarifies the definition of a “qualifying teacher” for loan forgiveness under the Teaching Fellows Program to reinstate an inadvertently omitted requirement that the teacher must serve in a qualifying licensure area. Section is retroactively effective July 1, 2023, and applies to applications for the award of funds beginning in the 2024-2025 academic year.
  • Conform Need-Based Scholarships For Students Attending Private Institutions With Federal Law (Sec. 2.16) — Updates the definition of “needy North Carolina students” to conform with federal law for purposes of determining student eligibility. Section is effective when it becomes law and applies beginning with the award of scholarships for the 2024-2025 academic year.
  • State Insurance For Public Education (Sec. 6.4(c)) — Replaces the “Commissioner of Insurance” with the “State Fire Marshal” as the person with the duty to manage and operate a system of insurance for public education property.
  • Clarify Temporary Waiver Of TSERS Reporting Requirements/Gaston County Public Schools (Sec. 8.4) — Clarifies that any penalty payment “assessed” under state law related to reporting requirements of employee and employer contributions by Gaston County Public Schools for the period of January 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023 is waived and shall no longer be due.
  • Exempt Public Transportation From For-Hire Ground Transport Excise Tax (Sec. 11.1) — Exempts a for-hire ground transport service provider that is providing public transportation on behalf of a State agency, certain governmental entities, or a local board of education from the for-hire ground transport excise tax.
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