Charter Schools

Classroom
WUNC File Photo

A K-12 charter school in Rutherford County has suspended all club activities after parents voiced concern over the presence of a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender club.

Flickr via Cynthia Ahrens / Flickr

Lawmakers pushed a bill through the Senate that would divert more money from school districts to charter schools.

Under current law, school districts have pots of funding they don’t have to share with charter schools. These pots include supplemental property tax revenues, as well as federal funding for providing school lunches and transportation, which most charters don’t provide.

N.C. General Assembly, State Legislature
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

North Carolina House representatives are introducing parts of their two year spending plan.

Education, Health and Human Services, transportation, and judicial appropriation committee meetings take place throughout Thursday as policy makers begin to digest parts of a $21 billion state spending plan.

A class at the Francine Delany New School.
http://fdnsc.net/

Charter schools are taking off in North Carolina. Approximately 50 new charter schools have been founded since 2011 when the legislature lifted the 100-school cap on the number of charter schools. Now, the State Board of Education is considering applications for 17 more. 

Classroom
WUNC File Photo

North Carolina lawmakers passed several education-related bills on Wednesday, just hours before their legislative “crossover” deadline. Most bills that do not involve money must pass either chamber by Thursday at midnight to have a greater chance of surviving the session. Education bills passed by either chamber include:  

Greater Penalty For Assaulting Teachers

J.B. Buxton
J.B. Buxton

    

J.B. Buxton began his career in education in an unlikely place: South Africa.

As a Morehead Scholar from UNC, Buxton taught in a South African school as apartheid began to crumble. The experience shaped Buxton's perspective on education and launched his long career in education policy.

He served as education advisor to Governor Easley and as Deputy State Superintendent of the North Carolina Schools. Buxton now leads the move for a charter school to serve Southeast Raleigh's neediest students.

a teacher in a classroom
Bart Everson / Flickr/Creative Commons

When North Carolina charter schools were first imagined in the mid 1990s, there were two big dreams: The first was to create something different, a sort of hotbed of innovation. The second was to take all of that new thinking – at least the stuff that worked – and share it with traditional public schools.

“But the second half of that never occurred,” said Jim Merrill, superintendent of Wake County Public Schools.

stack of money
Flickr user 401(K)2013

A failed charter school in Lenoir County mismanaged hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the state auditor’s office.

Kinston Charter Academy received more than $600,000 of state money two months before it closed, even though it had received several citations for fiscal mismanagement over the years.

The audit says the funds were inappropriately used to cover expenses from the previous year, instead of going toward other public schools that students transferred to after Kinston closed.

Fingers on a keyboard, computer,
Wikimedia Commons

The state is closer to opening two virtual charter schools. A special committee on Wednesday cleared two applications of proposed charter schools that would be operated by for-profit companies.

North Carolina Virtual Academy would be managed by K12 Inc., which has had student performance problems in other states, while N.C. Connections Academy would be affiliated with Connections Education.

On Wednesday, the state committee took turns firing off questions to the two eager applicants.

There was the biggest and most obvious question:

classroom
Malate269 / Wikimedia Commons

  The State Board of Education on Thursday placed Charter Day School Inc. on “financial probationary status” for not turning over salary information of school employees to the Department of Public Instruction.

The state gave all 148 charter school operators until the end of September to provide salaries of school employees who are hired by for-profit companies.

Charter Day, which oversees four charter schools in the Wilmington area, was the only operator to not comply.

PACE ACADEMY
Reema Khrais

State officials have agreed to grant a three-year renewal to PACE Academy’s charter, months after the State Board of Education voted to terminate the Carrboro school’s charter.

WUNC reported on the status of the school earlier this year  in January and February

Classroom
WUNC File Photo

A Senate Education Committee has approved a bill that makes certain that charter schools are subject to the same public records and open meetings laws as traditional public schools.

The bill comes at a time when charter schools are thriving in North Carolina - 26 new schools are set to open in the fall.

Charter schools are run by private nonprofit boards, but get public money from the state. For that reason, lawmakers say charter schools should be bound by the same state public record laws as traditional schools.

Reema Khrais

When founders Jane Miller and Rhonda Franklin got the news that their charter school may not be around next year, they were overcome with the same feeling.

“Just utter shock,” says Franklin:

We were shocked because we know what has happened within these walls in the last 10 years. We know the growth of our students.

The state’s Charter School Advisory Board unanimously recommended to the State Board of Education that it reject PACE Academy's application for a renewal of its 10-year charter.

Maureen Joy Charter School
Leoneda Inge

There’s a section of East Durham undergoing major revitalization, and in the middle of it all is the oldest existing school building in the city.

But today, more than 100 years later, the old East Durham Graded School has been renovated in grand style.  The project is getting a lot of attention and economic developers and neighbors hope it’s the spark that will keep community revitalization going.

David Benbennick via wikimedia commons

  Next year, 26 new charter schools will open their doors to students in North Carolina. An additional 170 groups filed initial applications to open charter schools in 2015. The growth comes on the heels of legislature eliminating the 100 charter school cap and voting to form a new advisory board to consider charter school applications. Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC education reporter Dave Dewitt about the changes in the charter school movement and the ways the state regulates these independent institutions.

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