K-12 Education Office of Government and Community Affairs Update - March 2021

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K12 Education Legislation Update

State Board of Education Vision: Every public school student in North Carolina will be empowered to accept academic challenges, prepared to pursue their chosen path after graduating high school, and encouraged to become lifelong learners with the capacity to engage in a globally-collaborative society.
State Board of Education Mission: The mission of the North Carolina State Board of Education is to use its constitutional authority to guard and maintain the right of a sound, basic education for every child in North Carolina Public Schools. 

March 2021



Welcome to the March Edition of the Office of Government and Community Affairs' Legislative Update 


We have entered high gear as the NC General Assembly continues its 2021 Long Session 2021-2023 Biennium Budget Process. Following the approval of the SBE/DPI Expanded Budget Requests, our team has been engaged in conversations and discussions highlighting the continued priorities of Superintended Truitt and the SBE's Strategic Plan, including multiple presentations to legislative committees, including Joint Appropriations. We are excited about the momentum and the collaboration that is taking place with the General Assembly and greatly appreciate the work that supports these meetings through our partnerships in the field and the dedication and commitment from our districts' leadership- at ALL levels- superintendents, principals, teachers, and the many staff members that collectively serve as the foundation of our schools.


We were also thrilled to hear Superintendent of Public Instruction, Catherine Truitt, share her vision and and her outlined legislative agenda to lawmakers at last Wednesday's Senate Education Committee. Named, Operation Polaris, Superintendent Truitt is joining the efforts of her Executive Council, the District and Regional Support Team, with the newly formed Office of Learning Recovery, led by Dr. Michael Maher, and four newly formed working groups- Literacy, Testing and Accountability, Human Capital, and Student Support Services, to lead the department's strategic plan. These teams will support the efforts of districts across the state working in conjunction with the General Assembly and the State Board of Education. It has been incredibly exciting to hear the positive feedback and support from around the state as our team continues the "District Visits and Voices" journey. Since our last news letter, our team of deputy superintendents, regional case managers, DPI directors and support staff, Special Advisors to the Superintendent for Educator and Principal Engagement, Julie Pittman and Tabari Wallace, and NC TOY, Maureen Stover, along with other RTOY's, have been immersed in listening and learning to our districts efforts to overcome challenges and lift up successes. It has been humbling and inspiring!


Sawubona, WE SEE YOU, we support you here at the State Board of Education and the Department of Public Instruction, and thank you.


HOT off the Press: 



  • Starting February. 24th, pre-K-12 teachers, child care workers, administrators, and other support staff at public and private schools can start getting the vaccine. To find your nearest vaccine location, see this LINK.  



Thank you for your continued support and as "We Strive and Rise, Together."

Join US as #OneTeamOneVoice 


Freebird McKinney and Jamey Falkenbury

Co-Directors of the Office of Government and Community Affairs

Public Schools of North Carolina

North Carolina State Board of Education

Department of Public Instruction


Follow Catherine Truitt on Social Media: Facebook | Twitter


DPI Centered Logo

NC State Board of Education

State Board 2025 Strategic Plan 

Special Called Session - Wednesday, February 24 | AGENDA 

March 2021 Meeting

  • Agendas for the March SBE meetings
    • Wednesday, March 3rd - here
    • Thursday, March 4th - here
    • SBE/DPI Joint Resolution to open schools - here
    • March SBE Legislative Update - here

Live Audio Streaming of SBE meetings are available at this link.


Link to SBE Meetings here.


Called SBE meeting on Monday, March 15, 2021 - Agenda


Next monthly SBE meeting - Wednesday, April 7th and Thursday, April 8th, 2021.

Meetings of interest:

North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA)


February Legislative Calendar  |  March Legislative Calendar

Education Bills with Action

LINK: K-12 Education Bills that moved this week (INSIDER Tracking)

Bills of Particular Interest:


SL 2021-4 (SB 220) - The Reopen Our Schools Act of 2021.  |  Bill Summary 




SB 37 In-Person Learning Choice for Families.  |  Bill Summary  |  Vetoed by the Governor 

HB 196 (=S172) 2021 COVID-19 Response & Relief.  Pres. To Gov. 3/4/2021

HB 82 Summer Learning Choice for NC Families.

  • Primary Sponsors: MooreElmoreTorbettZenger
  • Establish School Extension Learning Recovery and Enrichment Programs in Each Local School Administrative Unit to Mitigate the Impacts of Covid-19 on At-Risk Students and to Require the Implementation of Innovative Benchmark Assessments.
  • Passed the House - Ref To Com On Rules and Operations of the Senate on 2/24/2021

HB 159 Education Law Changes.-AB (Agency (DPI/SBE requested) Bill)

  • Primary Sponsors: TorbettBlackwell 
  • Appropriate Funds for Legislatively Mandated Compensation Bonuses for Teachers and Instructional Support Personnel in Certain Public Schools and to Make Various Changes to Education Laws, as Recommended by  Department of Public Instruction. 
  • Ref to the Com on Education - K-12, if favorable, Appropriations, if favorable, Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House on 3/1/2021

SB 115 Students, Parents, Community Rights Act. (Local Bill)

  • Primary Sponsors: JohnsonSawyerMcInnis
  • Permit increased access to outdoor sporting facilities in public and nonpublic high schools in the following counites: Anson, Iredell, Moore, Richmond, Scotland, Union, and Yadkin.
  • Passed the Senate - Ref To Com On Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House on 3/2/2021

SB 116 Let Them Play and Let Us Watch.

  • Primary Sponsors: JohnsonSawyerBritt 
  • Permit increased access to outdoor sporting facilities in public and nonpublic high schools.
  • Passed the Senate - Ref to the Com on Education - K-12, if favorable, Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House on 3/2/2021


Session Laws on K-12 Education


LINK:  Bills that have become Session Law



The 2021 YLA is scheduled for May 1, 2021.


Youth Legislative Assembly (YLA) is a mock legislative session where high school students voice their opinions and vote on issues concerning local, state and national government.


The YLA conference allows high school students an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the workings of local, state, and national government. Active participation in YLA increases the students' confidence and ability to debate current issues. Any high school student in good standing at a public, private, charter, or home school in North Carolina is eligible to participate in YLA. Just complete the student application; you do not have to have a member of the NC General Assembly to sponsor you to participate in the Youth Legislative Assembly.


For more information contact Erica Gallion at (919) 301-1372


North Carolina’s Youth Legislative Assembly offers students a unique opportunity to learn first-hand about the legislative process and to develop leadership skills that will help them succeed in life,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore. “We are proud to continue this long tradition of helping prepare our state’s future leaders.”


YLA STUDENT APPLICATION - HERE   |   Application Deadline:  April 2, 2021


North Carolina State Board of Education
State of the Shire”—Community Affairs Update

SBE Region Map

On the Road with the Office of Government and Community Affairs - Building Bridges and Expanding the Shire

“We Strive and Rise, Together.”


"District Visits and Voices"

Pitt County Schools - Dr. Ethan Lenker, Superintendent

Pitt County 2021


DPI/SBE’s “District Visits and Voices”Team travelled to Pitt County to listen and learn from Dr. Ethan Lenker and his leadership team’s model to increase the human capital pipeline through teacher recruitment/ retention; their innovative strategies to maximize teacher effectiveness; their efforts to connect high school to post-secondary career opportunities; the support they provide in lifting up the “Whole Child” (Social/ Emotional and Student Mental Health); and their strategic structure of communication and focused academic instruction that ensured student engagement. Our team was humbled and inspired by ALL that you shared and we left Pitt County amazed, once again, as to how our districts, at every level, are responding to COVID-19 and mitigating its impact on our communities, schools, and students.


Pitt County 3


We started our day at the impressive Kathy Taft Center for Equity and Excellence in Leadership, a permanent home for professional learning in Pitt County. Led by our good friend Dr. Seth Brown (Team Starfish) and Dr. Thomas Feller, we learned of Pitt’s commitment to the R3 Framework- Recruit, Retain, and Reward which WILL be a national model for how to maximize teacher effectiveness through multi-classroom teachers, a strong BT program, a Teacher Leadership Institute, engaging “Communities of Practice”, and a robust compensation model that is leading to the re-professionalizing of our career in Pitt. 


Pitt County 2 2021


Next we engaged with the Pitt County Technical Academy and the Pitt County Early College High School. Learning from Beth Ann Trueblood, Director of CTE, we visited Electrical Systems and Industrial Systems classes, hearing  the stories of Carlos and Ruby and their journey to actualize a “pathway to prosperity.” From Wynn Whittington, Principal of the Pitt Early College, we explored how relationships drive EVERYTHING and how programs like AVID allow students to see their future self in a myriad of opportunities.


Our next stop took us to the Goess Student Center of Pitt Community College where we listened to district leadership, including our good friend Dr. Steve Lassiter Jr., Assistant Superintendent of Ed. Programs and Services, Jennifer Johnson, PIO, Dr. Kristi Rhine, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, and Karen Harrington, Director of Student Services, share their challenges and successes of overcoming COVID’s impact and communications, ensuring DAILY high-quality instruction, providing options for parents was key to Pitt County Schools’ continued Success.


We ended our day visiting two more schools- Innovation Early College at ECU (IECHS) and EB Aycock Middle School, both models for ensuring student voice and teacher-led design. We loved learning about the Instructional Framework at IECHS that engages in collaboration and metacognition, as well as empathy, open-mindedness, and self-advocacy. Thank you, Principals Jennifer James and Darryl Thomas, Pitt County POY, for sharing your passion and vision in exemplary in school leadership.


This day was memorable in multiple ways- friendships revitalized, leadership actualized, student voices and perspectives lifted up, teachers empowered and revered, and lessons learned on multiple levels with a bounty of solutions. We thank the leadership of Pitt County, Dr. Ethan Lenker, and his team for sharing this day with us. We also thank Senator Don Davis and Representative Brian Farkas for your support and your participation. The day was designed to reveal the interconnection between Superintendent Truitt’s vision and the SBE’s Strategic Plan with your mission and we marveled at the synergy. Until we meet again... 


#OneTeamOneVoice  educatordiplomats 


Pitt County 4

"District Visits and Voices"

Currituck County Schools with Dr. Matt Lutz, Superintedent


You know it’s an extraordinary day when your team begins the day on a school bus, on a NC ferry, crossing the Intercoastal waterway, to visit a 100 year old school. This was how the DPI/SBE “District Visits and Voices” journey to Currituck Public Schools began. We were honored to listen and learn from Superintendent Matt Lutz and his leadership team as we once again celebrated the vast differences and uplifting ways our schools, educators, and communities are serving our NC Public Schools students as we collectively transcend the impact of COVID-19.


Currituck Ferry


During the 45 minute ferry ride we discussed multiple challenges and successes of this pandemic’s impact. From Transportation/ Facilities with Matt Mullins, Technology with Sandy Reynolds, Finance with Larissa York, and School Nutrition with Angela Rodriguez, we conversed about the many ways Currituck was answering the CALL. Led by Dr. Lutz and Assistant Super. Renee Dowdy, they shared story after story about their passion and dedication, and the deep connection to their mantra that “School is Community.” After a brief visit to the pilot’s nest to take the ferry for a quick spin😳 we departed and heading to Knotts Island Elementary.

Currituck Leadership


Knotts Island is 100 years old! A beautiful, timeless building that spoke of the past and dreamed of the future. Led by Principal Kevin Goins, dressed in a full on Oompa Loompa costume to celebrate “Read Across America Day” we listened to the challenges of a geographically isolated school while immersing ourselves in a physical education class led by Jim Wright and hearing the story of 2nd Grade teacher, Donna McLoud, who had spent her whole life in the island as an educator, inspired by her father who served the longest local school board appointment in NC history of 37 years. It was stories like these that flowed from these compassionate community servants and led us to our lunch at legendary Southland Restaurant.


Knotts Elementary


Joined here to break bread was an incredibly reflective representation of community leaders, including County Manager, Ben Stikeleather, BOE members, Kelly Williams, BOE Vice Chair, Dwan Craft, BOE Chair Karen Etheridge, BOE Member Janet Rose, County Commissioners, and Director of Student Services, Virginia Arrington. Conversation flowed, human interaction was resounding, and I had the second best fried chicken that had ever graced my mouth (second only to my mother-in-law’s 🤪.)


We then spent the afternoon touring Moyock Elementary learning about the growth/capacity/ expansion projects, experiencing the exemplary talents of Virtual Academy Teacher, Mrs. Daffy Scott, and interacting with the Dreambox Math Intervention tool. From there to Central Elementary School which highlighted an engaging and supportive continuum of services to meet the behavior/ academic needs of their model EC program, led by Jamie Miller.


Our final visits took us to Currituck Middle and High Schools where we discussed the impact of COVID on high school athletics, we visited the FFA program and interacted with students working in the greenhouse, witnessed a fantastic hybrid model math class from Angel Swimme, and discussed the importance of the home visit program to re-engage at risk learners and students with chronic absenteeism


Currituck Visit 2021


Days like this remind you of how important our NC Public Schools are to our communities and how our community members are the foundation of our schools and the servant leaders to our students. Our team witnessed true community action driven by a deep, contextual love of geography, history, and purpose. Thank you, Dr. Lutz, and your leadership team, for sharing the depths of this love and the lengths at which your community is committed to our collective WHY. The State Superintendent, Catherine Truitt, and the NC State Board of Education, support your exemplary efforts in providing a sound and basic education to our students and our team was humbled and blessed by this day, it’s lessons, and it’s many memories. We look forward to next steps and our continued partnership.


#OneTeamOneVoice #EdLeadNC #educatordiplomats

DPI Logo


      Information on bills impacting K-12 education 


Legislative Calendar

*Link to the current NCGA calendar of committee meetings and sessions


Tuesday, March 9, 2021

  8:30 AM  House: Appropriations, Education (Joint)                                     1027/1128 LB  STREAM

  8:30 AM  Senate: Joint Appropriations on Education/Higher Education      1027/1128 LB  STREAM

  1:00 PM  House: Education - K-12                                                               643 LOB  STREAM

                  H90: In-Person Learning.                 

                  H159: Education Law Changes.-AB                  

                  H193: 2020-2021 School Transportation Flexibility. 

                  H136: Encourage Healthy NC Food in Schools.

  2:00 PM  House: Homeland Security, Military, and Veterans Affairs            1228/1327 LB  STREAM

                  H53: Educ. Changes for Military-Connected Students.

  2:00 PM  House: Pensions and Retirement                                                 421 LOB  STREAM

                  H163: Treasury Administrative Changes.-AB


Wednesday, March 10, 2021

11:00 AM  House: Judiciary 2                                                                        423 LOB  STREAM

                  H84: Sex Offender Premises Restrictions.

11:00 AM  House: State Government                                                            643 LOB  STREAM

                  H64: NCWorks Commission Membership Modification.


Monday, March 15, 2021

  4:00 PM House: Session Convenes                                                            House  STREAM

  4:00 PM Senate: Session Convenes                                                           Senate  STREAM

  5:30 PM Senate: Rules and Operations of the Senate                                544 LOB  STREAM

                 S103: Reduce Reg. To Help Children with Autism.


Tuesday, March 16, 2021

  1:00 PM House: Local Government                                                            1228/1327 LB  STREAM                          H244: Lincoln Co. Bd. of Ed./Partisan Election.

  3:00 PM House: Families, Children, and Aging Policy                                423 LOB  STREAM

                H205: Abuse & Neglect Resources in Public Schools.


Wednesday, March 17, 2021

11:00 AM House: State Personnel                                                                 415 LOB

North Carolina General Assembly 




  • Freebird McKinney - Co-Director of Government and Community Affairs
  • Jamey Falkenbury -  Co-Director of Government and Community Affairs    
  • Karson Nelson - Legislative Liaison
  • Anne Murtha - Legislative Specialist  

To view previous Weekly Legislative Updates click here.

 The NC Department of Public instruction offers a number of topics for subscription.

  • To subscribe to other NC Department of Public Instruction topics, click here.