VIRTUAL EDUC./REMOTE ACAD./VIRTUAL CHARTERS. (NEW)

View NCGA Bill Details2021
Senate Bill 671 (Public) Filed Wednesday, April 7, 2021
AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR VIRTUAL EDUCATION IN PUBLIC SCHOOL UNITS IN EMERGENCY CIRCUMSTANCES, TO EXTEND PLANNED VIRTUAL INSTRUCTION FOR THE 2022-2023 SCHOOL YEAR FOR ALL PUBLIC SCHOOL UNITS, TO PROVIDE FOR REMOTE ACADEMIES IN LOCAL SCHOOL ADMINISTRATIVE UNITS BEGINNING WITH THE 2023-2024 SCHOOL YEAR, TO EXTEND PLANNED VIRTUAL INSTRUCTION FOR CHARTER SCHOOLS THROUGH THE 2023-2024 SCHOOL YEAR, AND TO EXTEND THE VIRTUAL CHARTER SCHOOL PILOT THROUGH THE 2024-2025 SCHOOL YEAR.
Intro. by Lee, Ballard, Galey.

Status: Ch. SL 2022-59 (Jul 8 2022)

SOG comments (1):

Long title change

Conference report to the 3rd edition changed the long title. Previous long title was AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR VIRTUAL EDUCATION IN PUBLIC SCHOOL UNITS IN EMERGENCY CIRCUMSTANCES, TO PROVIDE FOR REMOTE ACADEMIES IN PUBLIC SCHOOL UNITS, AND TO TRANSITION THE VIRTUAL CHARTER SCHOOL PILOT.

 

Bill History:

S 671/S.L. 2022-59

Bill Summaries:

  • Summary date: Jul 26 2022 - More information

    AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR VIRTUAL EDUCATION IN PUBLIC SCHOOL UNITS IN EMERGENCY CIRCUMSTANCES, TO EXTEND PLANNED VIRTUAL INSTRUCTION FOR THE 2022-2023 SCHOOL YEAR FOR ALL PUBLIC SCHOOL UNITS, TO PROVIDE FOR REMOTE ACADEMIES IN LOCAL SCHOOL ADMINISTRATIVE UNITS BEGINNING WITH THE 2023-2024 SCHOOL YEAR, TO EXTEND PLANNED VIRTUAL INSTRUCTION FOR CHARTER SCHOOLS THROUGH THE 2023-2024 SCHOOL YEAR, AND TO EXTEND THE VIRTUAL CHARTER SCHOOL PILOT THROUGH THE 2024-2025 SCHOOL YEAR. SL 2022-59. Enacted July 8, 2022. Effective July 8, 2022, and applies beginning with the 2022-2023 school year.


  • Summary date: Jul 1 2022 - More information

    Conference report makes the following changes to the 3rd edition. 

    Part II.

    Amends Part 3A, Remote Academies, in Article 16, GS Chapter 115C, as follows. Allows for a local school administrative unit (was, public school units) to apply to the State Board of Education (State Board) for approval of remote academies. Makes changes throughout the part to refer to "local school administrative units" instead of "public school units." Specifies that the instruction provided by a remote academy is to be delivered to students in a remote location outside of the school facility. Provides that a remote academy approved by the State Board may satisfy the minimum required number of instructional days or hours for the school calendar through remote instruction, notwithstanding GS 115C-84.3 (previously prevented a public school unit from providing the majority of instructional hours through remote instruction in a public school except as provided in this Part). 

    Amends proposed GS 115C-23.5 by removing the 15% cap a local school administrative unit was required to place on total enrollment in all remote academies.

    Amends proposed GS 115C-234.10 to provide that except as provided in this Part, a remote academy must meet the same requirements in GS Chapter 115C as other public schools governed by the local boards of education (was, remote academy must meet all requirements for that type of public school that are in GS Chapter 115C).

    Amends proposed GS 115C-234.15 to require the State Board to review and approve a plan for the creation of a remote academy that meets the requirements established in this Part for a term of five years (previously no term was specified).

    Amends proposed GS 115C-234.20 by adding that a local board of education may apply for renewal of approval as a remote academy for additional terms of five years. Requires that the State Board consider compliance with the Part's requirements and success of the remote academy in the prior five years in determining whether to approve a renewal request.

    Part III.

    Deletes the provisions of Part III and instead provides as follows. 

    Allows a charter school that submitted a virtual instruction plan for the 2021-22 school year to the Department of Public Instruction to continue to provide virtual instruction in accordance with that plan for for the 2023-24 school year.

    Amends Section 8.35 of SL 2014-100, as amended, to extend the length of the pilot program that authorized the operation of two virtual charter schools serving students in K-12, to a period of ten school years instead of eight, with the program now ending with the 2024-25 school year. Allows a virtual charter school that participated in this pilot program to be eligible to apply to the State Board for a charter renewal as provided in GS 115C-218.6.

    Amends the act's long title.


  • Summary date: Jun 8 2022 - More information

    House committee substitute replaces the content of the 2nd edition with the following.

    Part I.

    Amends GS 115C-84.3, which prohibits public school units from using remote instruction to satisfy minimum instructional day and hour requirements, to account for new Part 3A, Remote Academies, to Article 16, GS Chapter 115C, as enacted. 

    Repeals the June 30th, 2022, sunset of Section 3, SL 2021-130, which enacts GS 115C-84.3, permitting public school units to use remote instruction up to a certain threshold to meet school calendar requirements, and makes GS 115C-84.3 apply to charter schools, innovative schools, regional schools, laboratory schools, and renewal school systems. Instead, makes the Section applicable beginning with the 2021-22 school year, with no sunset given.

    Part II.

    Enacts Part 3A, Remote Academies, to Article 16, GS Chapter 115C, as follows. Allows for public school units to apply to the State Board of Education (State Board) for approval of remote academies, defined as a public school whose instruction is primarily online through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning, and may include any combination of grade levels. Prohibits public schools from providing the majority of instructional hours through remote instruction except as provided in new Part 3A. Details requirements for student enrollment, with an emphasis on parental consent and student success. Sets an enrollment cap for local school administrative units only, limiting enrollment in remote academies to 15% of the total student enrollment of the unit, and requires local units to comply with class size laws. Allows local units to reassign students during the school year based on academic success, with authority to delegate this duty to the superintendent. Requires remote academies to meet all other requirements of the type of school required by GS Chapter 115C. Lists five instruments and services remote academies must provide to enrolled students, including any required hardware and software for participation at no cost except for instances of damage or loss, access to the Internet, and specified services required by children with an individualized education program. Provides for limited in-person requirements, such as State-mandated student assessments. Details requirements for remote academy employees, including licensure and evaluation requirements of in-person employees of the type of public school, and requires provision of sufficient digital teaching and learning support staff. 

    Details the remote academy approval process, including submission of a plan that addresses seven required components, with review and approval by the State Board. Requires adherence to the approved plan unless written approval for modification is obtained from the State Board. Requires approved remote academies to receive a school code; excludes an academy in a unit with less than 100 students in final average daily membership from being entitled to 12 months of employment for a principal. Provides for annual evaluation of remote academies by the State Board; directs the State Board to annually report to the specified NCGA committee on the evaluations. 

    Directs the State Board to make its first evaluation report by November 15, 2024.

    Repeals SL 2021-130, Section 3B(c), which bars public school units from using virtual instruction to satisfy the minimum required number of instructional days or hours after June 30, 2022, without express authorization from the General Assembly, except for local school administrative units that were assigned a school code to operate a school with virtual instruction as the primary means of instruction as of May 1, 2021. Instead, allows a public school unit assigned a school code to operate a school with virtual instruction as the primary means of instruction as of May 1, 2021, to continue to operate that school for the 2022-23 school year, and a public school unit that submitted a virtual instruction plan for the 2021-22 school year to the Department of Public Instruction to continue to provide virtual instruction in accordance with that plan for the 2022-23 school year.

    Applies beginning with the 2023-24 school year. 

    Part III.

    Amends GS 115C-218.1 to require a charter school that will be a remote academy to include the remote academy plan required under new GS 115C-234.15 in the school's charter application.

    Regarding the State Board's review and renewal of charters under GS 115C-218.6, for comparing a remote academy charter school's academic outcomes, requires comparing the remote academy's immediately preceding three years to the average of three comparable local units with similar student populations, measured by school-level metrics collected by the State. 

    Permits charter schools, beginning with the 2023-24 school year, to become remote academies by submission of a plan approved by the State Board pursuant to new GS 115C-234.15, or submission of the plan with the charter application or renewal. 

    Repeals Section 8.35, SL 2014-100, as amended, which enacts the Virtual Charter School Pilot Program. Requires the pilot to end with the 2021-22 school year, and the two participating schools to be deemed approved as charter schools by the State Board and operate as charter schools, as specified. Provides for the schools' increase in enrollment by up to 20% beginning with 2022-23 without the increase being considered a material revision of their charter. Provides for the schools' contracts to be for five additional years, ending after the 2026-27 school year, whereby the contracts can be renewed for a subsequent 10-year term under GS 115C-218.6, as amended.

    Part IV. 

    Applies beginning with the 2022-23 school year. 


  • Summary date: Apr 28 2021 - More information

    Senate committee substitute amends the 1st edition as follows.

    Part I.

    Further amends GS 115C-562.1(3) to expand the statutory eligibility criteria for eligible students for opportunity scholarships to also include a child in foster care (current criteria requires that the child reside in a household with an income level that does not exceed 150% of the amount required for qualification for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program). Prohibits the State Education Assistance Authority (Authority) from considering the household income of the foster parent in determining eligibility of a foster care child under this provision. Makes technical changes. 

    Deletes the proposed changes to GS 115C-562.2, modifying the scholarship grant cap (per year, per eligible student) to an amount up to the average per pupil allotment amount the State Board of Education (State Board) allocated to a charter school pursuant to GS 115C-218.105(a)(1), plus the allocation for children with limited English proficiency and the allocation for children with disabilities, in the prior fiscal year; and reducing the total number of scholarships the Authority can award, beginning with the 2022-23 school year, from 2,000 to 1,500. Instead, amends the statute to set the scholarship grant cap (per year, per eligible student) to an amount of up to 90% of the average State per pupil allocation for average daily membership in the prior fiscal year. Eliminates the cap on the number of awards the Authority can award to eligible students in each school year. 

    Adds to GS 115C-562.3 to require the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to provide the Authority the average State per pupil allocation every December 1 for that fiscal year to determine the scholarship cap amount for the following fiscal year in accordance with GS 115C-562.2(b), as amended.  

    Establishes additional eligibility criteria to receive scholarships for 2021-22, deeming students eligible who meet the following criteria: (1) enrollment in an NC public school or a Department of Defense school located in North Carolina for the fall semester of the 2019-20 school year, (2) enrollment in a nonpublic school that meets specified state law requirements for the spring semester of the 2019-20 school year and the entire 2020-21 school year, (3) the eligibility requirements of GS 115C-562.1(3)a1. (has not enrolled in a postsecondary institution in a matriculated status eligible for enrollment for 12 hours of academic credit) or b. (resides in a household with an income level not in excess of 133% of the amount required for the student to qualify for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program), and (4) submits an application for the 2021-22 school year. Mandates students deemed eligible solely by this provision be given first priority in scholarship awards in the same manner as those previously awarded scholarships. 

    Part II.

    Revises the award of scholarship funds from a North Carolina Personal Education Student Accounts for Children with Disabilities under GS 115C-92, as amended. Eliminates the proposed decrease in the scholarship amount from $9,000 per eligible student for the school year or $4,500 for eligible part-time students. No longer provides for funds remaining on a debit card at the end of the school year in the same manner as funds remaining in an electronic account, which are subject to proposed provisions providing return of the balance requirements and carryforward limitations. Modifies the proposed changes to GS 115C-597 to authorize the Authority to retain the lesser of 4% of the funds appropriated to the Program or $2 million each fiscal year for administrative costs (was up to 4% of the funds appropriated; currently authorizes up to $250,000). 

    Makes a technical correction to refer to the NC Personal Education Student Accounts for the Children with Disabilities Program, as renamed by the act, in Section 2.2.


  • Summary date: Apr 12 2021 - More information

    Part I.

    Amends the definition of eligible students, as it applies to opportunity scholarship grants, set out in GS 115C-562.1 to include a student residing in the state who is eligible to enter kindergarten or first grade under Article 25 of the Chapter (previously, this particular eligibility criteria was limited to students entering either prekindergarten or the first grade). Adds that a child who is four on or before April 16 is eligible to attend the following school year with the respective principal (or the equivalent) submitting findings of the student satisfying the specified requirements with the child's application to the State Education Assistance Authority (Authority). Expands the statutory eligibility criteria for eligible students for scholarships to include a child residing in the state who was enrolled in a nonpublic school that meets specified state law the spring semester prior to the school year for which the student is applying, and was enrolled for the entire school year prior to the school year in which the student was enrolled in a nonpublic school, in a public school, or Department of Defense school in North Carolina. Revises the income threshold for eligibility to now require that the student reside in a household with an income level not in excess of 175% (was 150%) of the amount required for the student to qualify for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program. 

    Amends GS 115C-562.2, modifying the scholarship grant cap (per year, per eligible student) to an amount up to the average per pupil allotment amount the State Board of Education (State Board) allocated to a charter school pursuant to GS 115C-218.105(a)(1), plus the allocation for children with limited English proficiency and the allocation for children with disabilities, in the prior fiscal year (was, up to $4,200). Reduces the total number of scholarships the Authority can award, beginning with the 2022-23 school year, from 2,000 to 1,500. 

    Amends GS 115C-562.3 to require the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to provide the Authority with public school enrollment information needed for determining eligibility under the established criteria. 

    Makes the above provisions apply beginning with the 2022-23 school year.

    Amends GS 115C-562.8, which governs the Opportunity Scholarship Grant Fund Reserve. Adds provisions to require the Authority to use up to $500,000 of funds appropriated in a particular fiscal year to be used for the award of scholarships in the following fiscal year that are unexpended at the end of the fiscal year in which the funds were appropriated to contract with a nonprofit representing parents and families for outreach and scholarship education and application assistance for parents and students, with remaining funds required to be carried forward for one fiscal year and used to award scholarships pursuant to the statute before reverting any unexpended funds to the General Fund (current law only provides for carrying forward unexpended appropriations for one year to award scholarship grants). Effective June 30, 2021.

    Enacts GS 115C-567.1 to authorize the Authority to contract with a nonprofit corporation representing parents and families for marketing, outreach, and scholarship application assistance for parents and students regarding the scholarship programs for eligible students. Details requirements of potential contractors, including complying with lobbying limitations. Provides for the contracting process and terms of the contract, including confidentiality requirements. Provides for the Authority sharing certain contact information of parents during the contract, with an opt-out option for parents. 

    Amends GS 115C-562.8, modifying the amount of funds the Authority is authorized to use of its State-appropriated funding for administrative costs of the scholarship grant program, now authorizing the Authority to retain the lesser of 4% of the funds appropriated or $2 million each fiscal year, rather than the lesser of up to 4% of the funds appropriated or $1.5 million each fiscal year. 

    Part II.

    Amends Article 41 of GS Chapter 115C as follows. Renames the North Carolina Personal Education Savings Accounts Program as the North Carolina Personal Education Student Accounts for Children with Disabilities Program. Defines eligible student as a student residing in state who has not yet received a high school diploma and who: (1) is eligible to attend a North Carolina public school under Article 25 of GS Chapter 115C (was, under GS 115C-336) and specifies that a child who is four years old on or before April 16 is eligible to attend the following school year if the principal of the school where the child seeks to enroll finds that the student meets the requirements of GS 115C-364(d) (concerning enrollment of gifted and mature four-year-olds in kindergarten) and submits those findings with the child’s application; (2) has not been enrolled in a postsecondary institution as a full-time student taking at least 12 hours of credit; (3) is a child with a disability, as defined by statutory cross-reference; and (4) has not been placed in a nonpublic school or facility by a public agency at public expense. Amends the definition of Personal Education Savings Account (now, Personal Education Student Account) to provide that they are electronic accounts (was, bank account) holding scholarship funds. Adds and defines a Part 1 or Part 2 nonpublic school as a nonpublic school that meets the requirements of Part 1 (governing private church schools) or Part 2 (governing qualified nonpublic schools) of Article 39, as identified and deemed eligible by the Division of Nonpublic Education. Adds and defines GS 115C-562.5 compliant school to mean a Part 1 or Part 2 nonpublic school that consents to comply with the requirements of GS 115C-562.5, which sets forth obligations of nonpublic schools accepting eligible students receiving scholarship grants. Adds and defines educational technology.

    Requires that the scholarships be awarded for applications received by March 1 of each year (removes the requirement that the recipients be selected beginning March 15). Changes the amount of the scholarship which was $9,000 per eligible student to $8,000 per eligible student for the school year or $4,000 for eligible part-time students. Requires funds remaining on a debit card or in an electronic account at the end of a school year to be returned to the Authority. Adds a new provision awarding an eligible student with a scholarship of up to $17,000 for each school year if the student has one or more of the following as a primary or secondary disability at the time of application: autism; hearing impairment; moderate or severe intellectual or developmental disability; multiple permanent orthopedic impairments; or visual impairment (makes a conforming repeal of the special education scholarship program for children with disabilities in Part IH of Article 9 of GS Chapter 115C). Allows students qualifying for these funds to carry forward no more than $4,500 of funds remaining on a debit card or electronic account at the end of the school year upon renewal of the account.

    Makes changes throughout that conform with the repeal of Part IH of Article 9 of GS Chapter 115C, which is effective July 1, 2022.

    Limits the use of the scholarship funds to tuition and qualifying education expenses (as defined in GS 115C-595). Now distributes the funds each semester instead of quarterly; makes conforming changes. Requires that parents receive a debit card or electronic account at the beginning of the school year instead of fiscal year.

    Amends GS 115C-594 by no longer requiring the verification of 6% of applications annually. Now requires applicants, rather than household members of applicants, to authorize the Authority to access information needed for verification efforts. 

    Amends GS 115C-595 as follows. Sets out the procedure under which the Authority disburses funds for tuition to the school and sets out conditions under which reimbursement of tuition is allowed. 

    Amends GS 115C-597 to require the Authority to provide scholarship recipients with the annual list of defined educational technology for which scholarship funds can be used. Now authorizes the Authority to retain up to 4% of the funds appropriated for the program each fiscal year for administrative costs (was, up to $250,000). 

    Enacts new GS 115C-599 requiring the State Board to ensure that local education agencies: (1) timely conduct evaluations requested by a child's parent or guardian of suspected children with disabilities and (2) provide assessments for continuing eligibility to identified children with disabilities receiving scholarship funds at the request of the parent or guardian. Requires the Authority, in conjunction with the Department of Public Instruction, to annually analyze past trends in scholarship data to ensure that the amount of funds transferred each fiscal year for reevaluations by local school administrative units of eligible students are sufficient and based on actual cost.

    Gives priority in awarding a scholarship for the 2022-23 school year to a student who was awarded scholarship funds for a PESA under Article 41 of GS Chapter 115C for the 2021-22 school year or a student who received a scholarship under Part 1H of Article 9 of GS Chapter 115C for the 2021-22 school year, if the student applies by March 1, 2022.

    The above provisions become effective July 1, 2021, and apply to applications for scholarship funds beginning with the 2022-23 school year.

    Provides that beginning with the 2022-23 fiscal year, of the funds appropriated from the General Fund to the BOG, the sum of (1) $13,043,166 in recurring funds for the Special Education Scholarship Program for Children with Disabilities established pursuant to Part 1H of Article 9 of GS Chapter 115C and (2) $3 million in recurring funds for the Personal Education Savings Account program must instead be appropriated to the Personal Education Student Account Fund Reserve. Amends GS 115C-555(4), GS 115C-567.1(a), and Section 5(b) of SL 2013-364, as amended, to conform to the repeal of Part 1H of Article 9 of GS Chapter 115C. Effective July 1, 2022.

    Makes conforming changes to GS 105-153.5(b)(12), concerning deduction from income tax the amount deposited to a personal education student account. Applies to taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2022.

    Part III.

    Provides that the act is effective on the date the act becomes law, unless otherwise provided. 


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