Board Considers Charter School Renewals
Special Report - February 5, 2009
The North Carolina State Board of Education will decide today whether or not it will renew charters for 16 public charter schools in North Carolina. On Wednesday, the Leadership for Innovation Committee of the State Board voted to recommend to the full Board that all but two of the charters set to expire this year be renewed. The Committee proposed that the Board not renew the charter for Provisions school in Lee County and withheld a recommendation on Torchlight school in Wake County until it is able to review a completed audit that has been delayed.
Prior to the Committee’s actions on Wednesday, the Office of Charter Schools within the N.C. Department of Public Instruction had recommended that the Board not renew the charters for PreEminent school in Wake County, along with Provisions and Torchlight. Parents and teachers associated with PreEminent and Torchlight have appealed to the Leadership for Innovation Committee to renew their charters, arguing that the schools cater to at-risk students who would have fallen through the cracks of traditional public schools. The Committee is recommending that PreEminent’s charter be renewed for three years, contingent on the school meeting or exceeding growth expectations for the next two years.
North Carolina law caps the number of charter schools that may operate in the state at 100. Because the cap was met several years ago, the only way charters become available is when the State Board revokes or fails to renew a charter or a school relinquishes its charter. Bills have been introduced for several years in the North Carolina General Assembly to either raise or remove the arbitrary 100-charter cap.
“While it is true that some charter schools in North Carolina have lower end-of-year scores than the average traditional public school, it is also true that many of these charters are geared toward highly at-risk students,” said Matt Lytle, director of research for the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “Even in the face of low scores, many parents feel that these charters serve their children better than traditional public schools. We encourage the Board of Education to consider the special nature of these charter schools as well as the desires and wishes of the parents and teachers who are committed to serving these children.”
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