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National charter school chains could get easier path in N.C.

Charter schools run by national chains would have an easier time branching out in North Carolina under a bill proposed by a powerful state senator.

Senate Bill 456 would direct the state Board of Education to come up with a new process and set of rules for charter schools run by for-profit or nonprofit management companies to be able to replicate their model across the state.

This would apply to chains such as the for-profit Charter Schools USA or nonprofit KIPP. Both have at least one school in the Charlotte area and have plans for more.

The bill was introduced by N.C. Sen. Jerry Tillman, a Randolph County Republican and the Senate’s majority whip. It also includes a few other relatively minor changes to the state’s charter school law, including giving the state Board of Education more leeway in deciding whether to approve enrollment growth at a charter school.

It’s one of a number of bills centered on charter schools, which are in the midst of a growth boom in Charlotte and across the state.

Last week, N.C. Rep. Tricia Cotham, a Mecklenburg County Democrat, introduced a bill that would require charter schools run by for-profit companies to disclose more information to the public. That followed a similar bill filed by another group of Democrats in February.

Also this session, Mecklenburg County Republican Rep. Charles Jeter introduced a bill that would let charter schools charge extracurricular activity fees, and Mecklenburg Republican Sen. Jeff Tarte introduced one that would let a charter school in his area – Pioneer Springs Community School – include its employees in the State Health Plan.

Dunn: 704-358-5235;

Twitter: @andrew_dunn