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Education

NC Senate Takes Up Pandemic Summer School Bill

Oakdale reading quiz.jpg
Ann Doss Helms
/
WFAE
A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools student takes an online quiz.

The Senate Education Committee on Wednesday approved a bill requiring school districts to offer summer school.

House Bill 82, which is designed to help students make up academic ground lost during the pandemic, passed the North Carolina House unanimously in February. More than a month later, the Senate Education Committee approved it with minor revisions.

House leaders had hoped to have the bill approved by April 1 to provide districts time to plan and hire teachers. It requires school districts to provide approximately six weeks of summer school that combines academic catch-up work with enrichment activities. Participation is optional for students and teachers.

The Senate committee discussed it briefly Tuesday, then called another meeting Wednesday to vote.

"Y'all have it now, so hopefully it will move pretty quickly," House Speaker Tim Moore told the committee Tuesday. "Obviously the sooner the better."

Committee approval is a first step toward a full Senate vote.

Senators who spoke Tuesday seemed eager to approve the bill.

"I believe this step is huge and it’s critical for the state of North Carolina, for the children of North Carolina, especially considering the pandemic," said Sen. Don Davis, a Democrat representing Pitt and Greene counties.

Sen. Kevin Corbin, a Republican who represents several counties in the state's western tip, asked how many children could be served. The bill calls for students who are academically at risk to get first priority, with everyone eligible for any spots that are left.

House leaders have said federal COVID-19 relief money should provide more than enough support for the summer programs.

"Look, there's enough money to fund it for every child that wants to go," Moore told Corbin. "So much money's come from the federal government you and I could go to summer school if we wanted to. There is plenty of money there."

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Updated: March 31, 2021 at 3:02 PM EDT
Updated March 31 to add the Senate Education Committee vote.