News: Quick Takes

House passes bill to make key updates to charter school law

(CJ photo by Maya Reagan)
(CJ photo by Maya Reagan)

In the waning hours of crossover week, the N.C. House passed a bill to open new funding sources and add flexibility to charter schools.

House Bill 729 passed the House, 63-52. The bill would make several key changes to the state’s charter schools law.

“Charter schools have matured to the point where they’re accepted across the state and have earned their place in our educational system,” said Rep. Larry Yarborough, R-Granville, the bill’s primary sponsor.

Under current law, when a charter school dissolves, all net assets of the school go to the local school administrative unit overseeing the charter. Under H.B. 729, capital-sourced assets would be exempted from that requirement.

Another change would be to allow counties to make direct appropriations to charter schools to buy real estate, furniture, school supplies, school technology, and similar capital equipment.

The bill also requires funding parity between traditional public school students and charter school students: “It is the intent of the General Assembly to ensure that all State funds for public school students attending charter schools are provided in amounts on a basis comparable to funds provided for public school students attending other public school units.”

A fourth provision in H.B. 729 allows charters to meet the yearly requirement for instructional days through a combination of in-person and remote instruction.

“Last year, the Center for Education Reform awarded North Carolina’s charter school law a C, so there is a much room for its improvement,” said Dr. Terry Stoops, director of the Center for Effective Education at the John Locke Foundation. “House Bill 729 moves the state closer to maintaining a legal, regulatory, and fiscal environment that provides optimal conditions for charter school operations and growth.”

“House Bill 729 levels the playing field between public charter schools and their district school counterparts,” Stoops added.