The State Board of Education decided Wednesday to postpone a vote on regulations for virtual charter schools in North Carolina.
The decision to table the vote until next month’s meeting comes after an exchange of letters between leading Republican lawmakers and board Chairman Bill Harrison about who, exactly, has the authority to regulate virtual charter schools.
Harrison said the delay is not the result of legislative pressure, but a simple desire to follow board procedure and discuss the issue more fully before taking a vote. “We are following our regular process,” he said.
“I don’t think (voting in) January is going to throw us off,” he said. “The next round of applications for charters, the deadline is March 1, and I think whatever we can get in place, it needs to be solid.”
Wednesday’s decision, however, comes after a letter from Republican lawmakers said the board was overstepping its bounds by creating guidelines for virtual charter schools.
Measures currently under consideration include a statewide limit of three virtual charter schools; per-pupil expenditures of roughly $3,600; and a requirement that applicants seek approval from the State Board of Education and no other entity.
In a letter dated Nov. 13, the chairs of the Education Oversight Committee objected to the move. “The State Board of Education is acting outside of its authority with the proposed administrative policy,” the letter said.
The trio of lawmakers — Sen. Jerry Tillman and Reps. Bryan Holloway and Linda Johnson — also said virtual charter school deliberations should take place in the legislature before any regulations are adopted.
Harrison, who responded with a letter of his own, said Wednesday that “I have an obligation to do what the constitution charges us to do, and I don’t feel we’re infringing on their role, that we’re trying to sidestep them in any way.
“I think I made it clear in here today,” he said, “that any conversation we have around the budget or funding formula that we recognize that that’s their bailiwick and it’s only a recommendation to them.”
Read more about the virtual charter school debate here.