North Carolina Family Policy Council
RALEIGH – On Wednesday, February 16, the Senate Education Committee passed SB 8—No Cap on Charter Schools, a bill that would eliminate the cap on the number of charter schools and make several changes to the oversight and regulation of charters in North Carolina. The bill has been subject to extensive debate and amendments throughout the committee process in the Senate. In fact, Wednesday’s meeting marked the bill’s third hearing in committee.
As the meeting opened Wednesday, members moved to consider a new edition of the bill with additional changes. In addition to changes made in past committee meetings, the newest bill makes further changes, including a provision that grants counties more flexibility in funding charter schools and one that allows teachers who previously worked in a traditional public school to retain their sick and annual vacation leave, should they transfer to a charter school.
The committee took public comment, allowing three supporters and three opponents to speak. Speaking in favor of the bill were: Cheryl Turner, Director of Sugar Creek Charter School in Charlotte, North Carolina; Matt Norcross, a current student at a charter school; and Michael Pratt, the Headmaster of Rocky Mount Preparatory School. All supporters praised the merits of charter schools and urged committee members to support the bill. In particular, Matt Norcross testified that attending a charter school helped him to achieve academic success, in spite of his disabilities.
Speaking in opposition to the bill were: Darren Hartness, Superintendent of the Mount Airy School System; Christopher Hill from the N.C. Justice Center, a policy group based in Raleigh; and Michael Bracey, Superintendent of Jones County Public Schools. Opponents wanted an admission lottery weighted by racial and socioeconomic status and for charter schools to guarantee transportation and free and reduced lunch to their lower income students.
SB 8 passed on a voice vote and will now head for a vote on the Senate floor. If it passes the Senate, it will then go to the House for further consideration.
This story was used by permission of the North Carolina Family Policy Council.