RALEIGH — A bill requiring school districts to offer in-person summer learning options to help students who have fallen behind due to the pandemic has been sent to Gov. Roy Cooper for signature.
House Bill 82, titled Summer Learning Choice for N.C. Families, passed unanimously through both chambers of the General Assembly and was then sent to Cooper on Friday, April 2.
The bill requires districts to offer in-person instruction in the areas of reading, math and science this summer. The first version of the bill included daily instruction for six weeks, but a committee substitute bill further clarified that instruction will be for at least 150 hours or 30 days rather than five days a week for six weeks.
Attendance in the program is voluntary. Meal services and transportation are included along with core subjects, and elective components like art and music.
The bill’s primary sponsors include Speaker Tim Moore (R-Eden), House K-12 Education Committee Co-Chair Rep. John Torbett (R-Gaston), House Appropriations Committee Co-Chair Rep. Jeffrey Elmore (R-Wilkes) and Rep. Jeff Zenger (R-Forsyth).
“Parents are ready to see their children going back to school and to recover from the learning loss that has occurred during the pandemic,” said Moore, who is also the lead sponsor of the bill. “After bipartisan work from the House and Senate and input from educators around the state, this legislation will give North Carolina families an option for their children to grow and learn during this summer.”
“This legislation is crucial for us to combat the learning deficit that has occurred due to the pandemic,” said Torbett in a statement.
North Carolina received over $1.44 billion in federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief II (ESSER) funds, some of which will be used in part to fund the program.
Local school boards are encouraged to incentivize the program by offering teachers a signing bonus of at least $1,200. To qualify, the teacher must have received a past teaching bonus for reading in grades three through five, math in grades four through eight, or have received National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification.
Students in Kindergarten through eighth grade will also be assessed at the beginning and end of the program. The summer learning bill directs the State Board of Education to provide “a single competency-based assessment per grade and subject” for those students. The Department of Public Instruction is required to report to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee by Oct. 15, 2021, on the results of those assessments and other data.