Charter Expansion Considered
Special Report - February 4, 2011
The Senate Education Committee met Wednesday, taking up SB8No Cap on Number of Charter Schools, a bill that aims to do away with the cap on charter schools for once and for all in North Carolina.
The committee opted to consider a new draft of the bill, referred to as a Proposed Committee Substitute (PCS). Whereas the original version of the bill only lifted the charter school cap, the new language of the PCS provides a much more comprehensive approach to charter expansion.
Besides the lifting of the cap, the new expanded language would also do away with the enrollment cap, equalize funding between charter schools and public schools, eliminate the requirement that charter schools must reflect the racial composition of their surrounding area, and create a new and independent body to oversee charter schools, rather than giving increased oversight authority to the state Department of Public Instruction (DPI), which currently oversees charter schools in the state.
Objections to the bill fell on party lines, with the committee’s Democratic members raising concerns over the new independent commission, the availability of student transportation, free and reduced lunches, and whether lifting the enrollment cap would encourage segregation.
The committee also began to hear from the public, allowing two supporters and two opponents to speak on the bill. Speakers supporting the measure were: Darrell Allison of Parents for Educational Freedom (http://www.pefnc.org/), and Karen Sutton, a Mecklenburg County mother who has had her daughter on waitlists for charter schools for two years. Opposing the measure were: Anne McCall with the State Board of Education and Leanne Winner with the N.C. School Boards Association, both of whom largely echoed the concerns raised by opposing members.
In remarks prepared for the committee, Bill Brooks, President of the North Carolina Family Policy Council, expressed his support of the bill, stating that “the passage of a bill like Senator Stevens’ is long overdue and strongly supported by the vast majority of North Carolinians, tens of thousands of parents and students across the state, and the North Carolina Family Policy Council. We are pleased to see the General Assembly moving forward in a timely manner with this bill that will offer parents more opportunities to achieve the best possible education for their children.”
SB8 will be heard again in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, February 9th, taking up proposed amendments, hearing further debate from committee members and the public, and possibly taking a vote. The new Republican leadership has named the elimination of the charter school cap as one of their highest priorities this legislative session and is expected to take quick action on this bill.
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Groups Say Lift Charter School Cap - January 22, 2010
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Charter School Model Law Proposed - September 4, 2009
Charter School Alternative: Thinking Outside The Box - FNC -November 2006
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