Last week in the North Carolina General Assembly budget meetings continued on Wednesday and Thursday, the House Select Committee on School Safety approved its report of recommendations, and most of the House and Senate members survived their primary elections.
As most of our readers know, there was a primary election held on Tuesday, May 8th. After 2 1/2 weeks of early voting and a long day of Election Day voting, there was still only a 10 % turnout of voters in Brunswick County. However, here and across the state the majority of incumbent candidates prevailed in the vote counts. The attention will soon move to the general election in November.
Immediately after the vote totals came in Tuesday night, I had to be in Raleigh at 10:00 o’clock Wednesday morning to continue the budget negotiations with the chairs of the Appropriations Committee on Transportation from the House and Senate. Brunswick County is well represented, as Senator Rabon and I are both involved in this group. We met several hours in the morning and again in the afternoon. We are very close to agreement on the budget to be presented to the full Appropriations Committee and to each chamber for floor votes and passage. It should be passed early in the session, which convenes next Wednesday, May 16th.
The House Select Committee on School Safety met Thursday morning and approved its report, which included approximately 14 recommendations for legislation in the upcoming short session. Some of the highlights are:
- More support for School Resource Officers (SROs), to include additional funding
- More training for SROs, continuing education requirements
- Study a volunteer SRO program
- Reciprocity with national certification on hiring school psychologists
- Work to increase school counselors, psychologists, and nurses to the national per student ratios
- Threat assessment teams in every public school
- Study armed security options for non-public schools
- Funding to expand the anonymous tip line Speak Up NC to the entire state.
As it was pointed out by the chairmen of the committee, this is only a start to protect the immediate physical safety as well as long term prevention of violence in our schools. There was wholehearted bipartisan agreement on this point. The report was approved in a unanimous voice vote, and will go into the committee process for action in the short session.
This Wednesday is the beginning of the short session. I also plan to meet with a group of teachers just prior to the noon session on that day.