Education

NC Senate looks to shift public school money to charters

Durham’s Reaching All Minds Academy charter school third graders in biotech teacher Valerie Chambers' class spend time reading about ecosystems in December. Charter schools could receive a larger share of public school funding under Senate legislation introduced Monday.
Durham’s Reaching All Minds Academy charter school third graders in biotech teacher Valerie Chambers' class spend time reading about ecosystems in December. Charter schools could receive a larger share of public school funding under Senate legislation introduced Monday. hlynch@newsobserver.com

N.C. Senate legislation introduced Monday would divert some funding for traditional public schools to charter schools.

The proposal first became public at a Senate Finance Committee meeting where it was approved minutes later. The legislation replaced language in a House bill that originally addressed the use of school playgrounds. The “gut and amend” approach allows legislators to introduce new proposals in the final days of the General Assembly’s session.

Traditional public schools share funding with charter schools based on enrollment numbers. But some public school funding is kept separate from the money that’s split with charters. Under the new Senate bill, public schools would have to share additional federal funding, gifts and grants, sales tax revenues and other funding.

Also, supplemental school district taxes would have to be shared with charters – even if a child from the supplemental tax district is attending a charter outside that tax district. That change would likely affect the additional property tax paid in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school district, which is used to boost school funding beyond what Orange County provides.

“These moneys should follow the child” who attends a charter school, said Sen. Chad Barefoot, the Wake County Republican who presented the legislation. “They shouldn’t stay somewhere just because.”

But Katherine Joyce, director of the N.C. Association of School Administrators, said her group strongly opposes the change. She said the bill would have a “significant negative impact” on public school budgets.

“This is infusing lots of changes into the delicate balance between funding for charter schools and funding for your school district students,” Joyce said.

Joyce pointed to several funding allocations that could be affected, including revenue for school nutrition services – a program that charter schools aren’t required to provide. Federal funding for technology needs could also be diverted, she said.

A number of Democrats voted against the bill, which could be on the Senate floor as soon as Tuesday.

Colin Campbell: 919-829-4698, @RaleighReporter

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