April 13, 2010

Senator Foriest, presiding

Senator Foriest, Co-Chair

Representative Yongue, Co-Chair

Success NC Norma Houston, Executive Director, UNC Tomorrow, UNC General Administration and Kennon Briggs, Executive Vice-President and Chief of Staff NC Community College System presented an update of the efforts to work collaboratively on a Plan for Success. Their mission is to ALIGN their goals to achieve increased student success, ACCLERATE a successful degree completion through online learning, and ASSIST students in moving from high school into and through college. A copy of the goals in each area are available upon request. Representative Tolson asked them to include the private colleges and universitites in this effort.

Career Ready Commission Dr. June Atkinson, Superintendent NC Department of Public Instruction shared a power point presentation on the work of the Commission and advised members the report “A Crisis of Relevance” was sent to Lieutenant Governor Dalton to use as part of his Jobs Commission efforts. Surprisingly students who take CTE courses have an 86.5 percetn graduation rate compared to 71.7 for all students in high schools in 2008-2009. They found that there are pockets of success, but there is a lack in alignment and NC is 39th n entrepreneurship in the country. They developed six goals with a series of recommendations tied to each goal. They are 1) Make CTE an integral high school experience, 2) Drive innovation and creativity in the state’s high schools, 3) transform the culture of education in NC to produce academically skilled and career-ready students, 4) Expand assistance to high school students 5) Connect business leaders with educators, 6)Build on existing governance structures.  

Tar Heel Challenge Major Robert Carver, NC National Guard reviewed the work of this program at their Academy at Salemburg. This is a joint federal and state program begun in 1994 to focus on high school dropouts between the ages of 16-18. Their goal is to graduate 250 students every year. This year the federal government has increased its support with a 75 percent of funding to the state’s 25 percent. The program is a 22 week residential phase and 12 month post residential phase. Eighty percent if students are employed or enlisted in the military (10-15% of total students enrolled). Their operating budget is $3.5 million and with the change in federal funding the cost per student next year will fall from $5,600 to $3,500. There are two recruiters in the state and most students are referred to the program. Members asked about representation across the state and one of the issues confronting the group is the participation in the western part of the state so they have been looking at adding a site in western NC and have a location in mind. The members requested information on the funding needs to open and operate the new site and they are expected to get back to the committee. Everyone agreed this is an extremely valuable program and the cost to the state is far less than the cost to incarcerate an individual. 

Update on School Construction Needs Dr. Ben Matthews, Director, School Support NC Department of Public Instruction provided a one-page report on the progress of school capital construction since 2006. In 2005/2006 LEAs identified $10 billion in school needs. Since that time capital expenditures have reached $4.75 billion. This total does not include nay monies paid by the county on behalf of the LEA or debt payments for prior construction. These figures may include administration, maintenance, transportation and similar facilities, not just school construction. In addition, $5.9 billion was spent or borrowed through bonds, COPS, and the public school capital fund and approximately 50 percent of the amount from the Public school fund were debt payments from previous construction.  Members asked about the Federal funds, which include QZAB and QSCB. The Quality School Construction Bonds were recently changed to interest-free bonds, which has made them more attractive to counties borrowing for school construction.

Calendar Adjustment for Inclement Weather Dr. Shirley Iorio, Legislative Analyst Research Division, NC General Assembly summarized the calendar law and the LEAs requirements in setting up the school calendar. The constitution provides for at least nine calendar months of school. The law requires 180 days and 1000 hours. There are fifteen workdays, 10 annual vacation days and legal holidays. Teachers must have 195 days of employment in 10 month term and except for year round schools and modified calendar schools students may not start before August 25 and the closing date may not be after June 10. The purpose for the discussion was brought by some committee members because of the recent hardships of bad winter weather in the western part of the State. Some districts were closed more than 20 days, Watauga 27 days. A list of twenty-four counties was provided showing the number of days missed, days already made up, last day of school adjusted, last day of school, and if they used Saturdays, holiday and workdays for make-up. The law allows counties who are closed more than 8 days per year during any four of the last ten years to be granted a waiver by the State Board, on the opening and closing dates of school, in the law. Senator Joe Sam Queen noted that there are numerous days in the calendar that could be eliminated, Unfortunately, what he didn’t understand is that those days are in the calendar by law and most LEAs have very tight calendars, which they must adhere to in order to meet state law. Senator Tillman said the law needed modification, but the House passed bills that were sent to the Senate in 2009, for consideration, only to see them sit in committee without a hearing.

Kara McCraw, Legislative Analyst Research Division, NC General Assembly also shared information on the calendars for the LEAs across the state

Dr. Tony Baldwin, Superintendent Buncombe County Schools talked about the challenges in Buncombe this year and what they have done to make up snow days. They have asked for a waiver for next school year, but the way the State Board is handling these issues Buncombe would not be eligible for the waiver until 2011-2012. He also mentioned the fact that if they could start school by August 17th they could align their calendar with the Community Colleges and Universities to provide more educational opportunities for their high school students to take college classes. This has long been an issue since the calendar law was changed in 2003/2004. Senator Apodaca was very upset with the presenter accusing him of not communicating with him since he represents some of his area. He also made it perfectly clear the need to have adequate time in the summer to run his summer camp programs was critical. His camps bring much needed revenue to the State and this is more important than the changing the school calendar to start as early as the second Monday in August. He said it was ridiculous to consider starting that early. There were other comments from members concerned that the calendar law was not in the best interest of the education of children.

Athletic Injuries and Athletic Trainers in Secondary Schools Bill Griffin, Legislative Chair

North Carolina Athletic Trainers’ Association recommended athletic trainers be required in all secondary schools at a cost of $21.5 million to the State. The cost is based on an entry level salary requirement for this position. Members asked about how to handle the smaller secondary schools and possible sharing of a trainer. They raised the question about EMS being at the games and why the trainers would be needed. What is the difference in their duties? EMS handles medical emergencies, while trainers are responsible for preventing injuries and tracking the health of the athletes. Trainers are more proactive in managing the health of the students before they have a problem or need EMS. There was a bill to study the issue last Session, but at this time there was no action on the study bill. Senator Dannelly raised concerns about his interest in having a school nurse at every school, before funding the athletic trainers. Though he understands the importance he believes the school nurses are critical and are needed every day to support all students and not just athletes.

Committee Discussion – Draft Report:

Staff provided and presented the DRAFT Committee Findings and Recommendations Report.

  1. School Calendar: The Committee recommends amending the current calendar law to provide LEAs the flexibility needed to make up the missed days. The amended law will apply only to the 2009-2010 school year.
  2. School Transition: The Committee recommends that the State Board of Education consider for implementation the following suggestion to better prepare students academically to make the transition from middle school to high school:
  3. College and Career Readiness: The Committee strongly supports the ongoing efforts of the University of North Carolina, the Independent Colleges and Universities, the North Carolina Community College System, and the Department of Public Instruction to ensure that all students are college and career-ready without needing remediation and recommends that they continue their work in this area.
  4. School Leadership: The Committee strongly recommends that the State of North Carolina closely examine d this NBPTS program and consider supporting, when funds become available, principals who are interested in participating in this professional development program.
  5. Positive Behavior Support Initiative: The Committee recommends that the General Assembly consider expanding the Positive Behavior Support Initiative at a level that allows for statewide implementation when funds are available.
  6. 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 use the data to help raise student achievement.
  7. Broadband Access: The Committee strongly recommends that the General Assembly continue to improve broadband access for all public schools.
  8. Students with Disabilities: The Committee recommends the enactment of legislation to ban the use of corporal punishment on students with disabilities. Proposed Bill Drafted
  9. Delay the Sunset of an Act Pertaining to Discipline and Homebound Instruction of Students with Disabilities. Sunset extended to 2013 what was House Bill 12. Proposed Bill Drafted.
  10. Substitute Teacher Unemployment: 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 purposes for this subsection, full-time substitute is defined as a substitute employee who worked so more than thirty hours a week on a continual basis for a period of six months.” Effective when it becomes law. Proposed Bill Drafted.
  11. Funding an Language for personnel in the School Support Services Division of DPI:115C-546.2 (a) Provides $2 million in funding from the Public Schools Corporate Tax dedicated to school construction. The additional $500,000 will be used to hire an electrical engineer and environmental engineer to manage issues in the public schools with green construction as well as other environmental issues (mold and mildew etc.) Proposal Bill Drafted, then plan to include in special provisions of budget.
  12. House Bill 348 School Board Members Required Education Credits: Last year this bill passed the House and got stalled and changed in the Senate Education Committee. The bill seeks to add a $50.00 per credit hour fine to each and every school board member who does not complete the legally required 12 hours of professional development annually. Only 45 of the 115 school boards have fully complied and 72 percent of the total membership. Enforcement of the law is needed and Representative Glazier requests the committee to support the passage of House Bill 348, as it was approved by the House, without any of the changes made in the Senate.
  13. House Bill 536 Athletic Trainers Study Bill: This bill is sitting in the Rules Committee in the House. The Committee is asked to recommend this bill be removed from the Rules Committee and be enacted. Representative Glazier and Cotham are making this recommendation.

The Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee has a final meeting on April 27th to approve their final report and recommendations for short session.


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