A bill to create a board for authorizing the creation of new charter schools could soon be up for a vote on the floor of the North Carolina Senate, after passing that chamber’s education committee June 14.
Under the current system, new public charters must first be authorized by the Charter Schools Advisory Board and then receive a majority vote from the State Board of Education. House Bill 618, Charter School Review Board, would create a new Charter School Review Board responsible for evaluating and approving new charters. Its decisions could be appealed to the full State Board of Education.
“This will make the application process more efficient, more cost effective, and much more streamlined for all stakeholders involved,” said Rep. Tricia Cotham, R-Mecklenburg.
In early May, H.B. 618 passed the House 75-42, with four Democrats joining Republicans in supporting the measure.
In committee, the bill was amended to remove the state superintendent of public instruction as a voting member on the review board.
Sen. Gladys Robinson, D-Guilford, objected to the bill on the grounds that it would remove too much authority from the full State Board of Education.
“It’s critical that the state board of education remain the authority that has the final approval of the charter schools. Some are doing well, some have closed, some are under review right now,” Robinson said.
Sen. Benton Sawrey, R-Johnson, said he has seen firsthand how charter schools have “opened up the education ecosystem and had a positive impact” in his own county.
A recent national report concluded that charters outperform their traditional public school counterparts in reading and math, with gains particularly accruing to minority students, students in poverty, and students learning English as a second language.