Weekly Legislative Update - March 10, 2017

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Legislative Update

March 10, 2017      

The Week In Review

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Education was a major focus this week at the General Assembly, as legislative committees heard multiple education bills and lawmakers made major education announcements. These announcements include a proposed new North Carolina Teaching Fellows program, additional funds for school construction, and bonuses for school administrators.  
Legislators are preparing to hear Governor Cooper’s first annual State of the State address, which is scheduled to take place in a joint session Monday evening. 

Proposal to Fund School Construction and Administrator Salaries Unveiled

State Superintendent Mark Johnson joined Senators Harry Brown, Ralph Hise, and Jerry Tillman for a press conference announcing their plan to shore up funds for school construction and salaries for school-based administrators (SBAs) across the state.  SB 234 proposes that $75 million of lottery funds be appropriated to address the school construction and renovation needs of the state’s neediest counties (tier 1 and tier 2).  The bill also proposes to replace the current principal salary schedule with a system in which each LEA superintendent distributes principal salaries from a lump sum appropriation. Assistant principals would be paid based on the salary schedule for “A” level teachers, plus 13%.  More details on these potential changes can be found in the bill language, available at this link.


STEM Education

New North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program Announced

A proposed new North Carolina Teaching Fellows program was unveiled Thursday. The program focuses on attracting students who excel in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to North Carolina classrooms.  It also seeks to attract teachers to specialize in special education.  The event, hosted by North Carolina State University, was attended by prominent figures in education, including UNC system President Margaret Spellings and State Superintendent Mark Johnson, along with legislators and members of the press.  Put forth by Senator Chad Barefoot and Representative Craig Horn, this proposal represents a joint effort between senators and representatives.  College students and those already with Bachelor’s degrees would be eligible to participate in the program, along with high school students who are applying to college.  Recipients of the scholarship would receive up to $8,250 per year to finance their education. In exchange for every year of money received, Fellows would be expected to teach for two years in a public school or one year if the school is designated low-performing.

Federal Changes to the Every Student Succeeds Act  

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate voted 50-49 to rescind the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Accountability, State Plan, and Reporting regulations under the Congressional Review Act (CRA).  This follows a 234-190 U.S. House of Representatives vote last month to rescind these regulations.  When the President signs this legislation, as is expected soon, these regulations “shall have no force or effect.”  It is unclear how these actions will affect ESSA state plans, but communication from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) is expected soon.  On February 10, Secretary DeVos sent a letter to chief state school officers stating that any changes to the state plan template would be within the guidelines of the ESSA statute and the ED will support ongoing state activities to implement ESSA.

Relevant Bills with Action

SB 8:  Ease Occ. Lic. Burdens on Military Families

This bill, which was heard and passed by the Senate Finance and Rules Committees this week, would allow military-trained individuals and military spouses to receive temporary occupational licenses if they meet certain conditions.  To be eligible, the individual must have performed occupational work in a jurisdiction with requirements similar to North Carolina’s. They must also be working toward fulfilling the requirements for their occupation’s North Carolina license.  The bill is scheduled to be heard by the full Senate on Tuesday.  If passed, it will move to the House.

School Bus

SB 55:  School Bus Cameras/Civil Penalties

This bill is designed to address the persistent problem of drivers passing stopped school buses.  LEAs would be given the option to invest in cameras that, when fitted to a school bus’s exterior, would capture a passing driver’s face and license plate.  It also allows the evidence gathered by such cameras to be used for criminal prosecution.  Counties are also given the option of establishing civil penalties to apply in cases where there is not injury or death resulting from the violation, however the General Assembly encourages criminal prosecution.  SB 55 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, and will now proceed to the Senate Rules Committee.

SB 169:  Teacher Excellence Bonus Expansion

Last year, the General Assembly created a pilot program providing performance-based bonuses for third grade reading teachers who are in the top 25% of teachers in North Carolina as determined by EVAAS student growth index scores. However, some qualifying teachers did not receive their bonuses due to changing grade levels due to no fault of their own.  This bill seeks to correct that by allowing these teachers to collect their bonuses.  LEAs that elected to pay the bonuses to such teachers from their own funds will be reimbursed under this legislation.  SB 169 passed the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee Tuesday, and will be heard next by the Senate Appropriations/Base Budget Committee.

NC Elementary Classroom

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See this link for a complete list of bills impacting education.

Legislative Calendar

Monday, March 13, 2017

6:00 PM Session Convenes - House Calendar (House Audio

6:30 PM Session Convenes - Senate Calendar (Senate Audio)

7:00 PM Joint Session - State of the State Address

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

  8:30 AM | 423 LOB  Appropriations, Education (Joint)

10:00 AM | 643 LOB  Education K-12 (House)

Eliminate NC Final Exam (H90)

Technical Changes to Course of Study Statute (H135)

Teacher Mentor Qualifications (H235)


North Carolina General Assembly 



  • Martez Hill  –  Executive Director, State Board of Education  |  919-807-3404
  • Robb Jansen  –  Policy Analyst & Legislative Liaison, State Board of Education  |  919-807-3407
  • Kevin Wilkinson, Policy Advisor & Legislative Liaison, Department of Public Instruction  |  919-807-3436
  • Anne Murtha  –  Legislative Specialist, State Board of Education  |  919-807-3403
  • Sarah Sturdivant  –  Legislative Intern, State Board of Education

To view previous 2017 Weekly Legislative Updates click here.