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Wide-ranging education bill on its way to Governor

A bill originally clarifying how schools should report on cursive writing and multiplication tables snowballed this week to include several other education components. House Bill 986 passed the House today and is on its way now to Governor Roy Cooper for his signature. 

The bill started as a way to make sure the state could get good information on who was teaching cursive and multiplication tables in public schools. Then the House added a provision last week that would place students who score a five on math end-of-grade or end-of-course tests into advanced math classes the following year. That was met with wide approval and the House passed the bill. 

In the Senate this week, four more provisions were tacked onto the bill. 

One requires the State Board of Education to create annual report cards for educator preparation programs that are available to the public and submit annual performance reports to the legislature.

Another requires Superintendent Mark Johnson to study and make recommendations on reducing testing not mandated by the state or federal government.

A third provision would require the state Department of Public Instruction to develop a mental health training program and suicide risk referral program. The measure would also force the State Board of Education to repeal its school-based mental health initiative and replace it with a new training program overseen by Johnson. 

A final provision would allow the district in the state with the highest percentage of restart model schools to opt into a renewal school system that would give the entire district charter-like flexibility. This provision applies only to the Rowan-Salisbury school system. Restart schools are continually low-performing schools that apply to operate under the restart reform model, allowing them to have charter-like flexibility. 

The bill with all of those provisions passed the Senate unanimously Wednesday, but because of the additions it had to return to the House for concurrence. Though some concerns were expressed on the House floor about the renewal school system and the repeal of the State Board’s mental health initiative, the legislation ultimately passed 94-11. 

Other bills

The budget technical corrections bill passed the House Thursday after passing the Senate Wednesday.

Education components of the bill would remove $200,000 for school supplies for certain Charlotte schools, and prevent the state Department of Public Instruction from taking money from the Office of Charter Schools to meet mandated budget cuts to the organization. 

House Bill 611 passed the House Thursday as well. It allows spouses of district superintendents to be legally hired by school boards. This bill was created due to the large number of superintendents who have spouses in their districts who are educators. 

Alex Granados

Alex Granados was the senior reporter for EducationNC from December 2014-March 2023.