Legislative News from Jones Street
May 6, 2010
Greetings from the Office of the North Carolina State Board of Education.
The 2010 Legislative Session begins at noon on May 12. The Senate is assigned to complete their budget first during this Session and the Senate leadership has announced their budget will be completed on May 14, passed and sent to the House for consideration/negotiations on May 20.
Several interim legislative committees have voted on recommendations to be presented to the General Assembly when it reconvenes on May 12. Some of those recommendations are stated as suggestions or to “strongly encourage” and some have recommended draft bills attached. This report will focus on those that have draft proposed legislation attached.
Legislative recommendations from Interim Legislative Committees/Commissions:
A. Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee
• School Calendar: The Committee recommends amending the current calendar law to provide LEA’s the flexibility needed to make up missed days. The proposed change applies only to the 2009-10 school year.
• Education Value-Added Assessment System: The Committee strongly recommends that school improvement teams use the EVAAS or a compatible/similar system to collect diagnostic information on students and utilize the data to raise student achievement. The proposed bill draft would require school improvement teams to use EVAAS or a system that is compatible with EVAAS to analyze student data to identify problems and determine action to help raise student achievement.
• Students with Disabilities: The proposed bill draft recommends a ban on the use of corporal punishment on students with disabilities.
• Delay the Sunset of an Act Pertaining to Discipline and Homebound Instruction of Students with Disabilities: The proposed bill draft would extend the sunset to 2013 in House Bill 12.
• Athletic Trainers: House Bill 536 which was a component of the 2009 Studies Act had recommended that a Task Force be appointed to study the issue. The Task Force was never appointed. The proposed bill draft recommends that a Task Force be appointed to study the issue of sports injuries in middle and high schools and report prior to the 2011 session of the General Assembly.
• Substitute Teacher Unemployment proposed draft bill: An Act to Restore a Balance to the Law on Unemployment Compensation for Substitute Teachers: “No substitute teacher or other substitute school personnel shall be considered unemployed for days or weeks when not called to work unless the individual is or was employed as a full-time substitute during the period of time for which the individual is requesting benefits. For the purpose of this subsection, full-time substitute is defined as a substitute employee who works more than thirty hours a week on a continual basis for a period of six months.”
B. Program Evaluation Division of the North Carolina General Assembly
• High School Graduation Project Requirement: Proposed draft bill would eliminate the July 1, 2011, restart of the Graduation Project requirement and allow the Graduation Project to become a local option with LEAs.
C. Joint Education Appropriations Subcommittee
• Driver’s Education: Students in North Carolina must complete a driver education program and have a driver eligibility certificate to apply for and receive a permit in North Carolina. The driver eligibility certificate (DEC) was a law passed in the late ‘90’s intended to reward students who were making academic progress toward graduation.
• The Committee recommendation was for the Program Evaluation Committee of the General Assembly to conduct a full study of the program, to continue funding until this study is complete, and to review other funding options for the program. Based on the recommendations of the study, there could be changes in the implementation of the driver education program for the 2011-12 school year.
D. Joint Legislative Commission on Dropout Prevention and High School Graduation
• The Commission has recommended technical changes to the administration of the dropout grants for 2010-11.
• Proposed bill draft: directs the Board of Governors in conjunction with the Department of Public Instruction and Independent Colleges and Universities to study raising the compulsory attendance age from 16 to 17 or 18. The study shall examine other states to determine effects and fiscal implications.
• Proposed bill draft: requests an appropriation to Communities in Schools to place no fewer than 100 graduation coaches in either middle or high schools establishing priority for schools with 60 percent or less graduation rate or performance composite below 50 percent.
• Proposed bill draft directs the State Board of Education to:
a. Develop a growth model prior to 2010-11 school year establishing goals for improvement of the four-year cohort graduation rate.
b. Establish a short-term goal that LEAs meet the annual model beginning with the graduating class of 2011.
c. Develop a long-term goal for a four-year cohort graduation rate of 90 percent by 2016.
• Proposed bill draft requires LEAs to identify students not progressing towards graduation and to provide personal education plans for those students and to annually report to the State Board of Education on the strategies and successes of focused intervention for those students. The State Board shall consider implementation of a program to provide LEAs with assistance and professional development to effectively identify students who are at risk of academic failure or who are not making progress towards graduation.
E. Joint Legislative Taskforce on Childhood Obesity
• Proposed bill draft:
a. The State Board of Education shall review and revise current minimum nutrition standards to meet recognized national standards for elementary, middle and high schools.
b. The revised minimum nutrition standards shall be implemented to elementary schools by 2011-12, in middle schools by 2012-13, and in high schools by 2013-14.
c. Every three years, the State Board of Education shall review and update as necessary the minimum nutrition standards to align with nationally recognized standards. The State Board of Education shall also review and update standards as needed to align with changes to federal law or the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
d. The minimum nutrition standards for school meals, a la carte foods and beverages, and items served in the After School Snack Program shall also be applied to competitive foods.
e. A public website shall be created for concerned parents, students, teachers, and citizens to report possible inconsistencies in the implementation of the statewide nutrition guidelines.
• Proposal: The Task Force recommends the Program Evaluation Division study the operation of the Child Nutrition Program, in their annual work plan for 2010. Specifically they need to review the guidelines for assessing indirect cost rates to local child nutrition programs in LEAs and assess the financial impact for LEAs and child nutrition programs of a policy requiring that indirect costs not be assessed until the CNS program has achieved and sustained a three month operation balance. The Program Evaluation Division shall report to the Task Force on Childhood Obesity on the results of its findings.
• Proposed bill draft: To continue the Task Force on Childhood Obesity.
F. Blue Ribbon Task Force on the State Health Plan
• The Blue Ribbon Task Force on the State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees recommends the General Assembly continue addressing State Health Plan issues during the 2010 Session and that the Task Force resume its work after adjournment of the 2010 Session and present a report to the 2011 General Assembly.
• The Blue Ribbon Task Force on the State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees staff did state to the Committee that the State Health Plan has stabilized financially and there are no plans to charge State employees premiums or to request an infusion of funds into the plan at this time.
G. Joint Legislative Study Commission on Poverty Reduction and Economic
• Proposed bill draft recommends the Department of Health and Human services and the Department of Public Instruction be directed to continue to include personal finance and parenthood training in North Carolina’s middle school curriculum.
• The Commission finds that Charter schools, if inclusive of low-income students, can be a force to lift children from the cycle of poverty.
• Proposed bill draft recommends the General Assembly lift the existing cap on charter schools and raises the cap up to six new Charter schools and to require new Charter Schools to provide a free and reduced price lunch program and to give priority to high-poverty targeted counties.
Any draft legislative recommendation stemming from an Interim Committee/Commission will be required to be presented in the appropriate General Assembly committee and vetted through the committee structure, be passed by the respective chamber and crossover to the other chamber, be vetted through that chambers committee structure, and passed by that chamber prior to being signed into law by the Governor. During the committee hearings, there will be an opportunity for the Department of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education to offer suggestions on any given piece of proposed legislation. We would appreciate receiving your input.