- The Progressive Pulse - http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org -

ICYMI: Bill to provide start-up funds for new charter schools

Rep. Marcus Brandon, along with Reps. Lambeth, Hardister, and Hanes filed a bill on Tuesday [1] that would allow new charter schools to take out interest-free loans totaling no more than $25,000 each from the State Board of Education. The loans would need to be repaid in 12 monthly installments within a year of the initial allocation.

$1,575,000 in revolving loan funds would be appropriated from the General Fund to the State Board of Education for the 2013-2014 fiscal year for these charter school loans. The same amount would be appropriated for 2014-2015.

This news comes at the same time local school districts are bracing for even more cuts as a result of sequestration. State Superintendent June Atkinson told members of the State Board of Education last week that North Carolina would be hit with a $63 million loss of federal funds for 2013-14. Last week also brought news that average teacher pay in North Carolina has slid to 46th in the nation [2], prompting State Board of Education member John Tate to declare “this is a disaster” [3] as he listened to the details.

Charter schools already have the option of securing tax-exempt financing through the N.C. Capital Facilities Finance Agency [4], a not widely-known about office under Treasury Secretary Janet Cowell. The agency helps nonprofit educational institutions, like charter schools and private universities, receive tax-exempt bonds that can be used for capital financing. In 2012, the agency approved $197 million in bonds for six institutions, including two charter schools that sought $10 million combined for refinancing and construction projects, according to the NCCFFA annual report.