HB 146 (Back to Basics)
This bill would require legible cursive handwriting to be taught in schools and for students to be able to produce a legible document in cursive handwriting by the end of the third grade. It would also require multiplication-table memorization..
Status: Passed the House unanimously; now in the Senate Education Committee.
HB 452/SB 589 (2013 School Safety Act)
This General Assembly’s legislative response to the Sandy Hook tragedy is a bipartisan bill that would provide incentives for districts to add more law enforcement officers in elementary and middle schools and install panic alarms in every classroom. The bill has $34 million appropriated in it; $20 million would go to two-to-one matching grants for hiring school resource officers. Local boards would be able to decide whether the SROs would be armed. Another $5 million is included for grants to hire school psychologists, social workers and guidance counselors and $4 million is set aside for the installation of panic alarms or similar systems in every classroom by July 2015. Mandatory crisis training for these psychologists and social workers would prepare them to handle a violent attack.
Status: House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education; Senate Education Committee.
HB 483 (Eliminate Unnecessary Education Reporting)
This bill would generally allow local boards of education to establish which teacher reporting forms are required. School improvement teams would be able to make recommendations for eliminating forms to the superintendent, with the superintendent making a recommendation to the local board.
Status: House Education Committee.
HB 595 (Gold Star Officer Program/School Volunteer)
This bill would allow, but not mandate, local boards to enter into agreements with their respective sheriff or local police chief for the purpose of assigning volunteer school safety resource officers to schools. The volunteer officers would have to have prior experience as a sworn law enforcement officer or at least two years’ service as a military police officer. The sheriff or chief of police could add additional criteria as well. The volunteer officer would also have to have updated law enforcement training and be certified by the NC Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission.
SB 337 (NC Charter School Board)
This bill would create a separate charter school board under the State Board of Education which would have governing authority over charter schools. The question that lingers with SB 337 is this: Will all or none of those employed to teach in charter schools be required to have a North Carolina teaching certificate? The bill eliminates the requirement that at least 75 percent of elementary school teachers and 50 percent of middle/high school teachers are certified -- but the next sentence in the bill makes it ambiguous as to whether or not those who teach in charters actually have to hold a license. Some of the bill sponsors are unsure as well.
Status: Senate Appropriations Committee.
SB 674 (Prohibit Costly Local Government Litigation).
Despite its positive-sounding title, SB 674 would eliminate any ability of a local board of education to dispute the funding – capital or operational -- that it receives from the county. The county would have sole authority to determine what is “necessary and appropriate” funding for its respective LEA; there would be no avenue for appeal by the LEA.
Status: Senate Education Committee.
HB 944 (Opportunity Scholarship Act)
The Opportunity Scholarship Act is the House’s school voucher bill. It was filed April 15 and has bipartisan support, with two Democrats as primary sponsors. Families with income up to 300 percent of the poverty level, or $70,650 for a family of four, would qualify. It is expected to cost the state $40 million in the first year and $50 million the following year. Private schools which; if they choose to, the scores would be submitted to the newly created State Education Assistance Authority. The scores would not be in the public record.
Status: Filed April 15.
SB 190 (Guns on Educational Property/Stored in Locked Car).
This bill would allow concealed-carry permit holders to have a handgun on educational property so long as it is (1) a handgun, (2) locked inside a closed compartment in a vehicle, and (3) the vehicle is on school property. The gun could only legally be used for the purpose of “defending the lives of the students, faculty, employees, or other people against violent attack on the educational property.”
Status: Senate Committee on Rules and Operations.
HB 896 (Superintendent Designee/Employment Hearings)
This bill would allow a superintendent’s designee to appear at teacher-employment hearings on behalf of the superintendent with the consent of the local board of education.
What’s on the horizon….
Watch for more information about HB 719 (Education Improvement Act of 2013) and SB 361 (Excellent Public Schools Act of 2013). These two very different bills would change how teachers earn career status. They are complex educational-omnibus bills that contain many detailed changes in the law. We’ll share information as we get it.