Bill Summary for S 826 (2023-2024)

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Summary date: 

May 2 2024

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2023-2024 Session
Senate Bill 826 (Public) Filed Thursday, May 2, 2024
Intro. by Smith, Batch, Grafstein.

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Bill summary

Enacts new GS 115C-376.6, the School Mental Health Grant Program (Program), to be established by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI). Specifies that the Program’s purpose is to increase student access to mental health support personnel in public school units. Defines mental health support personnel. Sets forth an application process, and authorizes DPI to set deadlines and application information. Requires DPI to award funds to selected public school units based on the need of the public school unit. In evaluating the need of the unit, DPI must prioritize the award of funds to units with a greater proportion of students who have limited or no access to mental health services, including students who do not have health insurance and students with disabilities. Requires public school units that receive Program funds to contract with mental health support personnel to provide mental health services in one or more schools in the unit. Specifies that the Program grants must supplement, not supplant, existing funds for mental health services. Starting on March 15 of each year funds are provided, sets annual reporting requirements to the specified NCGA committees on the Program, with four required prongs of information. Appropriates $50 million from the General Fund to DPI in recurring funds for 2024-25 to provide grants for school mental health services in public school units. Allows DPI to use up to $75,000 of the funds each year for Program administrative costs.

Enacts GS 116-209.47, the Mental Health Worker Loan Repayment Program (Repayment Program) to be administered by the State Education Assistance Authority (Authority). Specifies that the purpose of the Repayment Program is to provide loan repayment grants to eligible mental health workers to repay student debt held by the worker to the extent funds are made available for this purpose. Defines authority, eligible mental health worker, high-need area, program, and student debt. Authorizes the Authority to establish the following criteria for initial and continuing eligibility in the Repayment Program: (1) NC residency and graduation from a postsecondary constituent institution of UNC; (2) standards adopted by the Authority to ensure that only qualified potential recipients receive a grant; and (3) to the extent funds provided are insufficient to award forgivable loans to all interested applicants, authorizes the Authority to establish a lottery process for selection of grant recipients from among qualified applicants. Sets the award amount at 20% of each eligible mental health worker's student debt as of the date of his or her initial award. Provides for a distribution date. Sets a limit of five years for each recipient to receive an award of funds. Authorizes the Authority to adopt rules to implement the Repayment Program. Requires the Authority to submit a report to the specified NCGA committee by December 1, 2024, and every year thereafter so long as the Authority continues to award grants on grants awarded under the Repayment Program and recommendations to improve the Repayment Program and increase the number of eligible mental health workers in high need areas. Appropriates $50 million in recurring funds from the General Fund to the UNC Board of Governors to allocate to the Authority for the 2024-25 fiscal year to establish the Repayment Program. Permits the Authority to retain $500,000 for administrative costs. Effective July 1, 2024, and applies to applications for the disbursement of funds beginning in the 2024-25 fiscal year. 

Effective July 1, 2024.