GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA

SESSION 2017

H 1

HOUSE BILL 556

 

 

Short Title: Office of Early Childhood Education.

(Public)

Sponsors:

Representatives Horn, Hurley, Lucas, and L. Bell (Primary Sponsors).

For a complete list of sponsors, refer to the North Carolina General Assembly web site.

Referred to:

Education - K-12

April 5, 2017

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED

AN ACT to establish the office of early childhood education.

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:

SECTION 1. Chapter 115C of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new Article to read:

"Article 6D.

"Office of Early Childhood Education.

" 115C‑64.25. Office of Early Childhood Education.

(a) There is established an Office of Early Childhood Education. The Office shall be located administratively in the Department of Public Instruction but shall exercise all its prescribed powers independently of the Department of Public Instruction.

(b) The Office shall have staff consisting of an associate superintendent serving as the chief academic officer and such other professional, administrative, technical, and clerical personnel as may be necessary to assist the Office in carrying out its powers and duties. The chief academic officer shall be appointed by the Superintendent of Public Instruction at a salary established by the Superintendent of Public Instruction within the funds appropriated for that purpose. The chief academic officer may be removed from the position by the Superintendent of Public Instruction in the event of the chief academic officer's incapacity to serve. The chief academic officer shall be exempt from the provisions of Chapter 126 of the General Statutes, except for Articles 6 and 7 of Chapter 126 of the General Statutes.

(c) All other staff shall be appointed, supervised, and directed by the chief academic officer of the Office and shall be subject to the provisions of Chapter 126 of the General Statutes. Except for the chief academic officer, salaries and compensation of all staff personnel shall be fixed in the manner provided by law for fixing and regulating salaries and compensation by other State agencies.

" 115C‑64.26. Powers and duties.

The Office of Early Childhood Education shall have the following powers and duties:

(1) Developing and implementing a plan for a coordinated system of early care, education, and child development services with a focus on program outcomes in satisfying the health, safety, developmental, and educational needs of all children from birth to eight years of age that includes at least the following:

a. Any recommendations to the Superintendent of Public Instruction on necessary organizational changes within the Department of Public Instruction, including an outline of projected efficiencies that would be realized through the operation of a new organizational structure for the coordination of early childhood programs within the Department.

b. In consultation with the administrators and personnel of the NC Infant‑Toddler Program and the North Carolina Pre‑K Program, coordination of the administration of those two programs.

c. An early childhood information system that facilitates and encourages the sharing of data between and among early childhood service providers and State agencies.

d. An early childhood accountability plan that includes identification of appropriate population indicators and program and system performance measures of the health, safety, and kindergarten readiness, and identifying markers of early success of children, including the North Carolina Pathways to Grade‑Level Reading measures of success.

(2) Implementing a statewide longitudinal evaluation of the educational progress of children from prekindergarten programs through grade three.

(3) Collaborating with the Department of Public Instruction, the Department of Health and Human Services, and other relevant State agencies to achieve the goal of a coordinated system of early care, education, and child development services for children from birth to eight years of age.

" 115C‑64.27. Reporting.

The Office of Early Childhood Education shall report on a quarterly basis to the Governor, the State Board of Education, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services on the progress and implementation of any of the duties and responsibilities of the Office as set forth in this Article."

SECTION 2. G.S. 126‑5(c1) is amended by adding a new subdivision to read:

"(35) The chief academic officer of the Office of Early Childhood Education."

SECTION 3. The Office of Early Childhood Education, established under G.S. 115C‑64.25, as enacted by this act, shall conduct a study of the governance of State government‑wide management and provision of services for early childhood education and development and the role of a centralized agency or office that would be responsible for early childhood‑related issues. In doing so, the Office shall make recommendations to the General Assembly on alternative organizational structures to achieve greater efficiency and effective delivery of early childhood services, including a consolidation and restructuring of State agency divisions and offices located within the Department of Public Instruction and the Department of Health and Human Services into a centralized agency or office. The Office shall consider at least the following in conducting the study:

(1) The delivery of services to young children and their families to ensure optimal health, safety, and learning for each young child.

(2) The collaboration and sharing of data elements necessary to perform quality assessments and longitudinal analysis across early childhood education and development services.

(3) The coordination of home visitation services across programs for young children.

(4) Access to information and technical assistance to persons seeking early care and education and child development programs and services.

(5) Available assistance for State agencies and municipalities in obtaining available federal funding for early care and education and child development programs and services.

(6) Available technical assistance to providers of early care and education programs and services to obtain licensing and improve program quality.

(7) The coordination of a comprehensive statewide system of professional development for providers and staff of early care and education and child development programs and services.

(8) Integration of early childhood care and education and special education services.

(9) Areas of duplication in monitoring and evaluation of early care and education and child development programs and services.

(10) The coordination and support of public and private partnerships to aid early childhood initiatives.

(11) The reports submitted, pursuant to Section 12B.5 of S.L. 2016‑94, to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services and the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Public Instruction, and other agencies or organizations that administer, support, or study early education programs in this State on (i) the development and implementation of a statewide vision for early childhood education and (ii) the development and implementation of a program for transitioning children from preschool to kindergarten.

SECTION 4. By March 15, 2018, the Office of Early Childhood Education shall submit a report to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee, the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services, and the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations on (i) the results of the study required under Section 3 of this act, including its recommendations and any proposed legislation, and (ii) progress on the development and implementation of a plan for a coordinated system of early care, education, and child development services and any other activities prescribed under G.S. 115C‑64.26, as enacted by this act.

SECTION 5. Notwithstanding G.S. 115C‑64.25, the Superintendent of Public Instruction shall appoint a chief academic officer of the Office of Early Childhood Education within 60 days of the date this act becomes law.

SECTION 6. Notwithstanding G.S. 115C‑64.27, as enacted by this act, the Office of Early Childhood Education shall submit its initial quarterly report to the Governor, the State Board of Education, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services by May 15, 2018.

SECTION 7. This act becomes effective July 1, 2017, only if funds are appropriated in a Current Operations Appropriations Act for the 2017‑2018 fiscal year to implement the provisions of this act.